The Hush Sound Blows the Top off the Bottom Lounge
The Hush Sound may have disbanded in 2008 to pursue other musical opportunities, but on Saturday night at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago, they played the second of two reunion shows to a sell-out crowd that may have left wondering if a full-blown reunion might be in the cards.
With Bob Morris and Greta Salpeter taking turns at lead vocals, the band ripped through a 70 minute set to an enthusiastic crowd, most of whom knew many if not all of the words of the seventeen songs. Leaning a little heavier toward their last of three albums, 2008’s Goodbye Blues, the five-piece band played well despite the hiatus. Opening with “I Could Love You Much Better,” the band settled in after tackling a few technical issues. Singer and guitarist Bob Morris took the role of band representative between songs in an easygoing and lighthearted tone, joking before one song, “I want to encourage understanding relationships, because none of my songs represent that.”
Morris’s singing contributions had dropped considerably on the band’s last album, and as such he sang mostly earlier material, including several from 2005’s So Sudden. Many of these garnered the greatest audience response. “City Traffic Puzzle,” “Crawling Toward the Sun,” and “Echo,” electrified the listeners, as did “Sweet Tangerine and “Intertwined” from Hush Sound’s second album, Like Vines.
On the other hand, Greta, who’s red skirt matched her keyboard, stuck to songs primarily from the band’s last album, and one gets the sense that as her voice matured from So Sudden (when she was only seventeen), she became more comfortable with her singing and songwriting. Her voice cut through the band's instrumentation brightly and strongly on standout tunes such as “Molasses,” “Medicine Man” and “Honey.”
As a keyboardist, Greta remained stationary throughout most of the set, coming out of her allotted space only when playing acoustic guitar. Bob played a more visible role, coaxing the fans to clap along repeatedly. Drummer Darren Wilson and bassist Chris Faller laid down the rhythms steadily and proficiently without stealing attention away from the two lead singers. Mike LeBlanc backed up on guitar, keyboards and bass.
“Did you know Bob and I went to prom together?” Greta asked the audience at one point.
I did, and it is my great misfortune of not having taken advantage of the opportunity to see the band play in its embryonic state at my neighbor’s garage early last decade. Little did I know then that the rumblings from next door would lead to three masterfully done albums, and – last night – a masterful live performance.
Here’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come.