Hilka – Rochester – The Bug Jar, NY – 2002-03-05

Where: Rochester – The Bug Jar, NY.

When: 2002-03-05

The original billing called for three bands, with a local headliner. But first the opening touring band, The Holy Ghost, cancelled, and then the local closer cancelled. A substitute local band filled the bill, but this trio – called Hilka – failed to impress me with their slightly mathy but boring instrumentals, so I left early in their set. The real highlight of this quiet Tuesday night was Boston’s Kimone, passing through town at the tail end of an expansive tour.

Unfortunately for Kimone, Rochester isn’t really used to having decent bands play on a Tuesday night. That’s a new phenomenon, and the crowd at the Bug Jar showed it. Many of the folks at the bar – quite likely regulars – left when the band started, so Kimone ended up playing to about 12 people plus a half-dozen or so in the adjacent bar area. Even the local closing act didn’t come out to watch the band. That’s unfortunate, because despite the sparse crowd, the band played very well.

Starting off a bit slow, the band’s style of lengthy and powerful rock songs with textured guitars and nicely flowing background keyboard really won me over by about the third song, when the singer switched his bass with the second guitar player’s guitar. The new bassist was much more proficient than the singer, and the songs got more complex, although still centered around power-chords and powerful rhythms.

The band’s best moments were in the instrumental times, when their songs built upon powerful guitar chords and intense drumming. Utilizing a large variety of effects pedals, the lead guitarist belted out some pretty impressive sounds, and the band really rocked in these longer and intense moments. Perhaps just to say he’s a true multi-instrumentalist, the singer even took a turn on a hodge-podge drum set, set up on the floor in front of the stage, for the intro to a very up-tempo and rocking instrumental – or perhaps long intro – that was quite impressive.

I expect the band would have been more enthusiastic with a greater showing, and it didn’t help that they apparently have had an unlucky leg of a tour that found them following bad weather all the way from Texas and battling their own bouts of colds. But they still put on an impressive show, certainly enough for me to keep an eye out for their next tour and their forthcoming EP (we reviewed the demo version on March 4). I expect that their blend of powerful rock and emo tendencies will be a big hit.