Show Review: Big Scary, HIPS at Bottom Of The Hill, 5/16/14

by Dakin Hardwick on May 19, 2014

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HIPS is a new project from Drew Denny of Big Whup, Natalia Rogovin of Social Studies, and Christina Gaillard of Crown Plaza. A few minutes on HIPS’ Soundcloud page and one can pretty easily discern that this project has very little to do with any of these bands. They advertise themselves as doing “DANCE JAMS // GRINDING // LATE NIGHT DRIVES // MAKING OUT.” I’ve never heard music that immediately conjures up the image of making out on the back of a van late at night while driving through a forest before I heard HIPS, but these ladies have managed to do just that. 

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This was their first show. I’ve been in a few bands, and I know our first show can always been a bit nerve wracking. Especially at such a high profile venue like Bottom Of The Hill. These ladies, however, seemed cool as a cucumber. They played with a tightness and confidence of a band that’s been around for years. Denny is was pure energy on stage, dancing up a storm while playing, practically dominating the stage. This is no small feat when you are sharing the stage with Rogovin, a mighty stage presence, in her own right. Their dynamic was interesting: Denny was the more flamboyant and Rogovin was the more serious one. Denny’s voice, at least for this project, is somewhat delicate while Rogovin’s voice is intense. This disparity only helped increase the tension in the music. The tension, of course, is what makes this music sexy.

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I shouldn’t ignore the importance of Gaillard, a fantastic drummer. And you can’t make sexy music without a beat, and she is the perfect rhythm machine. This first show was about as good as a first show could possibly get. Plus, she sang lead on just as many songs as Denny & Rogovin, making her one of the rare drumming singers that are gifted in both worlds. They all live in different parts of the state, so it remains to be seen how often we will get to see them live. So you should really make it a priority to get out to their next show. Whenever that may be.

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Big Scary are a band that I’ve never heard of before tonight. I was half expecting Bottom Of The Hill to be somewhat empty this evening, but that certainly wasn’t the case. In fact, this may have been one of the more crowded shows I’ve gone to here. The moment that HIPS left the stage, a sea of girls with big black X’s on their hands stormed the stage. Once the band took the stage, however, it made a bit more sense. Lead singer, Tom Iansek, is one incredibly handsome man. Like, unfairly handsome. And he’s Australian. Before they played a note, I had already written them off as a boy band.

Then the music started.

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This band is good. Really good. Power pop at it’s absolute finest. Iansek’s voice is beautiful and perfect. He alternated between piano and guitar, with a voice as smooth as Damon Albarn, playing songs flowed between bright and dark with relative ease. Drummer Joanna Syme is the perfect rhythm machine. One song would be a basic rock song. The next song could be a Portishead inspired trip hop song. After that? A swampy blues rock stomp. This band is eclectic without alienating. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a show a thought to myself: “In three years, these folks will be playing amphitheaters.” I can’t wait for OneRepublic fans to find this band. It’s going to be great for everyone except OneRepublic.

The moral of the story? Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.

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