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Monday, September 14, 2009

Live Show Review: Sister Hazel

This past Friday, September 11th, Sister Hazel took the stage at The Classic Center in downtown Athens. At first I thought we were being duped because the stage crew set up cardboard cut outs—Homer Simpson in the place of lead singer Ken Block—as the Classic Center and UGA Miracle welcomed the band on stage. However, the real Sister Hazel showed soon after in true Florida style donned with cowboy hats, boots, and wallet chains to replace their cardboard-selves and rock the house.

After an eight-year stint at the Georgia Theatre, the band admitted it upset them to see the beloved venue out of commission, but was happy to play for an Athens crowd anywhere. They conveniently dubbed themselves a “Southeast born” band and left out their obvious association with The University of Georgia’s football rival, the Florida Gators. The crowd knows all, and thus playfully booed the band before they even started playing. This sort of crowd-band banter continued throughout the night and made for a comical, and entertaining show.

As far as the music is concerned, I can sum up the Sister Hazel concert in one word: nostalgic. Sister Hazel writes the kind of songs to which everyone knows the lyrics and is encouraged to sing along. Hits like “All For You,” and “Happy,” had the 40somethings and sorority girls that made up the crowd screaming and clapping to the beat—with much encouragement from the band.

New songs, from their most recent album Release, dotted the set list. Though these songs lacked in lyrical importance, the crowd welcomed them as the next wistful tune they’ll play at their wedding reception ten years down the road. “Ghost in the Crowd” was a standout with its pounding percussion, piano integration, and mad guitar part by Ryan Newell. However, the other songs played from Release on Friday didn’t hold my attention either lyrically or instrumentally— perhaps only because they didn’t possess the nostalgic value of a 1990s/early 2000 Sister Hazel song (Keep in mind, the entire album was not played and there might be some gems in the unheard tracks).

To finish out in true American spirit, Block and Andrew Copeland rocked out a harmonic duet of “Star Spangled Banner” and gave a dramatic, somewhat cheesy, light show of fireworks. Nevertheless, I felt the pride and appreciation in the room.

The concert, in all, was an enjoyable trip back to the 1990’s when Sister Hazel was first on the rise and making sweet, sweet Southern infused rock.

-Marie Baginski
Currently listening to "Halfway Home" by TV on the Radio

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