Brooklyn-based indie rock outfit Hospitality have been on the rise with a fun new music video for their single "Friends of Friends" and a debut album that was one of the freshest debuts since Cults. When Baeble heard that Hospitality was performing at Glasslands in Williamsburg to celebrate the release of their new album, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to see if Hospitality were as fun and endearing live as they were on their album. The answer was a resounding yes, and there is a distinct possibility that Hospitality may begin to garner a reputation as an even better live band than they are in the studio. Not only did Baeble get to see a superb set from Hospitality, the two opening acts, Dustin Wong and Glass Ghost, were nearly as impressive, and Dustin Wong's technical wizardry was a stunning sight.
Dustin Wong, better known as one of the founders of Ponytail, opened up the set on stage by himself with just his guitar, no shoes, and around eight or nine different pedals to create the sonic experience everyone at Glasslands was about to witness. For those not familiar with Wong's music, he is one of the "looping" artists that is in vogue right now. But rather than creating a possibly boring, ambient sound, he recorded himself playing his guitar live and kept looping and looping different layers until you were enmeshed in this expertly complex rock experience. With soaring melodies and intricate arrangements that were all looped in front of the audience, Dustin Wong impressed as much with his head-banging guitar tunes as he did with his complicated effects scheme. The crowd kept trying to guess how exactly he was doing what he was doing and what each pedal was for, and eventually we all had to give up because the only person who seemed to know how Dustin Wong was doing what he was doing was Dustin Wong himself.
Glass Ghosts were the second act to come on stage. After the experimental and avant-garde nature of Dustin Wong's performance, the crowd seemed to welcome the more conventional sound of Glass Ghosts. Lead singer/keyboardist Eliot Krimsky's distinct vocals can only be compared to Barry Gibb, the lead singer of the Bee Gees. With a high falsetto and an ability to warp it emotionally around the music, Krimsky matched his vocals with a darker and ambitious piano rock sound that brought to mind High Violet era The National. They closed the set out with "Like a Diamond" which fans of the HBO series Bored to Death. The crowd seemed to dig the act which was good because technical difficulties caused a nearly hour long wait between the end of Glass Ghost's set and the beginning of the lead act's show, Hospitality.
The wait was well worth it because Hospitality managed to translate the breezy, youthful energy of their debut album into a performance that was even more vibrant than their album. Whether it was the urban folkiness of "Eighth Avenue," the girl pop of "Betty Wang," or the rock of "All Day Today" (which was the final number of the regular set), Hospitality captured the feel of the album while simultaneously letting their hair down and blowing into extended jam sessions which showed how capable the whole act was on their instruments (which is to say very). When they played lead single, "Friends of Friends" they brought out session musicians to play saxophone and the crowd went wild during the sax solos. Lead singer Amber Papini has an affected voice that belies her Midwestern roots (though she claims she learned to sing from the Psychedelic Furs which may account for some of this) but works in the playful nature of the songs lyrics and delivery. Hospitality has an accessible sound that could easily break over to the mainstream with enough wit and passion to still appeal to serious music fans. This will be a band to watch.