Saturday, September 7, 2013

31 Aug 13

Sometimes this business, you have to meet the good, the bad and the okay when reviewing bands, blogspot readers. You also have to put friendships aside and treat your band friends as a band and not as your friends performing on stage. On such a night, it happened to SouthSide. After basking in the hazy afternoon sun at North Coast Music Festival, she headed to Elbo Room to review local band Hazel and The Grimms. Well, blogspot readers, this reviewer liked the band name but not the band performance on several different levels. In all honesty, she does see them having the potential of making an impact on the local music scene if they only change the following two things:

1. Practice, practice, practice

When Hazel and The Grimms opened their set, it sounded a bit rough around the edges and chaotic as the three guitars tried to jell together at three different range levels. SouthSide doesn't know if that was planned to get their audience's attention but in her opinion, that intro failed miserably. It was messy one sounded as if they were tuned or at the same key correctly, blogspot readers. Yet, that wasn't the only thing wrong at the beginning. This reviewer had a hard time trying to establish what type of genre Hazel and The Grimms were going for. The music at best was simplistic - a basic beat and rhythm count though trying to add a little complexity during the instrumental bridges ...sometimes with screeching riffs. Then she tried to figure if they were trying to cross a raw Janis Joplin-sounding vocals with a gritty Southern rock band style or vice versa ...or were they going for something completely different hoping it would work on stage? This may sound harsh about the band but it's still a good question for this reviewer to ask since she didn't know what they were going for throughout this set. And what this band needed, blogspot readers, was some serious music-vocal cohesiveness.

For example, Jackyln aka "Hazel" had this rusty dynamic soulful voice almost likened to the late great rocker - Janis Joplin who's voice made you feel that acid rawness of a human soul in songs like Me and Bobby McGee and Piece of My Heart. It was nice that Jackyln tried to bring a little of Janis into her songs however she was mostly overshadowed by her own band because of mainly the different guitar styles clashing against her especially when she's doing dual duties - vocals and guitar. When she wasn't on the guitar, "Hazel" turns into a dynamic and powerful vocalist to which SouthSide could clearly hear how dynamic and powerful her voice can as she added more heartfelt emotions into the lyrics without trying to sound like Janis on stage. When performing the Aretha Franklin classic Chain of Fools, it totally fell apart for this reviewer, blogspot readers, because she missed a golden opportunity to show off her vocal abilities. Why? There was too much Janis in Jackyln's voice to have that Motown soul and sound to emotionally belt out the lyrics ...not like Aretha but close enough to make her own song. No, instead, it sounded more like she was struggling to force the soul side out of her voice while amidst the band's dirty rock style chosen to cover this R&B rendition.

SouthSide's advice to Hazel and The Grimms - need to find what genre of rock do you want your band to be known for and under which vocal style does it compliment. She technically may not be a full fledged musician but she has enough experience as a vocalist to know that the two (music and voice) should meet somewhere in the middle and balance as well as compliment each other. A gritty Southern rock sound doesn't really compliment an acid Janis Joplin-sounding voice and vice versa. It's cool to pay homage to the legendary singer/songwriter however Jacklyn needs to find her own vocal range so it doesn't sound like Janis all of the time in every song. Plus not all songs especially classic Motown/R&B work well with a dirty Southern rock sound-Janis voice. Now, had the band chosen something like a Kid Rock tune or even Lynyrd Skynyrd or Janis Joplin classic, then their one cover song of the night could have worked well within the set list as well as enhanced their chosen genre style thus attracting more fans towards them. 

2. Tighten the stage performance

Sadly, SouthSide wasn't impressed with Hazel and The Grimms' stage performance before and during their time at Elbo Room. It doesn't truly help to impress the one person who came out to see you when you're not ready to set up for your performance immediately after the opening band concluded their set to which the sound guy had to find you. That wasn't cool, blogspot readers. And it may have been a rough start to the performance but taking long breaks in between not good either. The long pauses made it appear as if the band didn't properly prepare their set list during practice and/or before the show. End result - you lose more of your audience (including this reviewer) that way. SouthSide knows not every performance can be perfect. However she can definitely see they were having an off night at Elbo Room even though Hazel and The Grimms did their best to provide a good show for their fans who came out to support them. On the other hand, whatever caused this off stage performance moment, SouthSide tried her best to enjoy their music but couldn't, blogspot readers. She didn't feel that vibe to groove along like their overly enthusiastic fans were feeling song after song. For example, when announcing the last two songs were dance songs, this reviewer didn't feel such of vibe from either one especially when one had a chord change thus taking the original tempo way off track into something that sounded like a cross between dirty rock and a backwater groove before transitioning back to the original tempo. Also, blogspot readers, it would have helped this reviewer to know what songs were being performed during the set to thoroughly aid her for this review as well as for the others who aren't familiar with Hazel and The Grimms' music.

SouthSide advises Hazel and The Grimms to do the following - be ready to start your set on time and know which songs you're going to perform and practice them as well as do a final practice set  to see what your live performance would be before your next scheduled performance. Also engage your audience more ...interact with them ...make them feel this is the most awesome show they have ever attended without having to work too hard and being so obvious. The goal is gaining new fans. So add a little more showmanship to your set but make it fun. Make it seem you're having the best time of your life on stage while hoping everyone (besides your already established fans) are feeling the same too. A band only has 45 minutes to make a good impression on its audience ...even if there's a reviewer in the audience or not.

SouthSide is fully aware there are fans for every band like Hazel and The Grimms. Yet one thing is for certain, at this time, their music style and genre is not her to her liking. But this doesn't mean she won't review them again. With some improvements and more practice, this reviewer could one day become a fan of theirs, blogspot readers.

For more information about Hazel and The Grimms, visit

Until next time, support your local scene,

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Thank you for your feedback - SouthSide