Concert Review: HÆLOS @ U Street Music Hall (4/6/19)

HÆLOS
HÆLOS live in LA (Photo from FB @haelosmusic)

We love some HÆLOS!

The U Street Music Hall multitude had the privilege to witness the London electropop band HÆLOS (pronounced like ‘halos’) on April 6th. And it was a very excellent time, and sadly the last on their 23-date tour.

Canadian singer/songwriter Mundy opened the show, and as she winningly charmed the audience she referred to herself as ‘newly born (to the music scene)’. She had made friends with the ‘best people’ (aka the members of HÆLOS) at the recent SXSW, whom then invited her to join their tour for a couple dates. Good choice.

Amidst blue lights and an eerie voice floating above us, the members of HÆLOS entered to electric applause and breathed a common sense of joy into the multitude with “Kyoto”. Literally* the most appropriate song they could play in DC at that moment, with the refrain of ‘cherry blossom, cherry blossom, it’s the air that we breathe.” Peak concert experience during DC’s peak bloom.

Next came the moody “Earth Not Above”, with the snicking snare drums and Lotti Benardout’s soothing vocals. The band is Arthur Delaney (guitar, vocals), Lotti Benardout (vocals), Dom Goldsmith (keyboard, percussion), Daniel Vildosola (bass), along with a drummer. They wondered if we were ‘Ready to move tonight?’, and absolutely yes we were.

“End of the World Party” starts with what sounds like a sample from Seduction’s “Two To Make It Right”, and is equally breakneck in pace. “Boy / Girl”, is a slinky banger with an atmospheric call and response between Arther and Lotti, talking about ‘angels in a fist fight’. They both would often mix up the lead vocal duties.

HÆLOS are touring for their second album, Any Random Kindness, which will be released on May 10th. Of the 12 songs they played during their set, seven were from the new album. I’ve had the chance to listen to the whole album, and even though the songs felt subdued at first listen (compared to their first album Full Circle), each is actually full of brilliant choruses, subtle melodies and dance-worthy beats that pop out differently each time the song unfurls. This is the same with “Boy / Girl”, it’s deceptively catchy on repeated listens, and with the added elements of a live performance, it stood out and got the crowd grooving.

Another new song, “Deep State”, works in slow futurist sounds, and is led by Arthur’s vocals. The chorus lifts you up to where you feel like you’re floating in a sea of aural waves.

They ended the main set with “Oracle”, and had a bit of a snafu with the big, boxy percussion machine, so there was a bit of a pause as Dom tried to sort it. In this moment of reflection, someone shouted ‘Clip the red wire!’, to much chuckling. Presumably he did just that, because it worked in short order and the song slowly built to a crescendo of big dance moves.

As the encore, “Pray” from their first album Full Circle, eventually led to invitations to the dancing multitude to join HÆLOS on stage for a bit of a dance off with the band.

Now that their U.S. tour is completed, you do have the release of Any Random Kindness to look forward to, and that’s something good.

Setlist

Kyoto
Earth Not Above
End of the World Party
Boy / Girl
Dust
Deep State
ARK
Full Circle
Empty Skies
Buried in the Sand
Oracle

Encore
Pray

* The rare occasion where this word is literally accurate.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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