Sister Hazel / Fairview @ Delmar Hall in St. Louis – 11/21/19
Review by Natalie Ross
I’ll be honest: The first thing I thought when I saw that Sister Hazel was performing was “they’re still around?” Despite having not listened to them for close to fifteen years, the pull of nostalgia intrigued me, so I decided to attend despite my musical tastes having gone in a heavier direction over the years.
Listening to some of their newer music in preparation for the show quickly revealed that their style straddles the line between rock and country, and often crosses over it. Even Wikipedia seems confused with how to categorize them, so maybe it’s best not to try. Fortunately, I’m probably one of only a handful of people who enjoys both heavy metal and country music, so putting my music collection on shuffle is a rather bizarre juxtaposition.
I brought my sister along to this one. She’s loved Sister Hazel for a long time now, ever since she listened to their album Chasing Daylight on endless repeat following a college breakup. We weren’t expecting much of their old selections, but we figure we’d still have a decent enough time. The concert would end up well exceeding those expectations.
Delmar Hall is a mid-sized venue located in the trendy Delmar Loop that’s only been open for about three years now, and it was about a thousand steps up in quality from my last concert at Fubar. The crowd when we arrived couldn’t have been any more different, either. There’s no sea of black shirts typical of heavy metal concerts, so the only indication that the mostly middle-aged crowd in the bar area was even there to see a concert was because you had to show your ticket to gain entry.
After getting our drinks and being interrogated at the bar from a fellow curly-haired woman about what hair products I use, my sister and I took a selfie so I could make an Instagram post on my sadly neglected personal account before taking residence in front of the doors. I was shocked when I checked back a few minutes later to see that Sister Hazel had liked and commented on my picture. It occurred to us that they might recognize us during the show, especially after I responded back that we’ll be front and center.
As the doors opened, there was a flood of people all rushing to gain their desired positions…at the first row of chairs, which sat on an elevated platform behind the floor area. Being a rail or die kind of gal, there was no jockeying for position up near the stage. Personally, I hate sitting at a concert. I don’t go to concerts to sit back and spectate. I go to them to be immersed. I go for that intimate feeling between you and the band on stage when they interact with the crowd or make eye contact. For the way I get lost in the music and the moment as I dance or bang my head or sing along. I knew very little about the opening band Fairview before they took the stage. I had looked them up earlier that day and listened to exactly one of their songs, enough to know that they sounded fun but were outside the genres I typically listen to these days.
My first thought when they stepped on stage was that the male half of the duo, Matt, looked exactly like Steve from Stranger Things (he’s well aware of this, as I’d find out when I meet them after the show). My second thought was that this pair was absolutely adorable, from Lizzy’s light blue sequin dress to the glowing smiles on their faces, and I loved them before they played a single note. I would only grow to love them more during their performance.
Their melodious voices melded together perfectly, emphasized by the fantastic acoustics at the venue. Even right at the stage, I didn’t hear any distortion. The chemistry between the two was incredible too, so much so that when they put their faces close together to share a microphone during one of the duets a holler erupted from the audience, as if the crowd expected them to just kiss already. During a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s Landslide, their sound engineer Shawn also joined in the vocals, and his voice and personality were equally charming. Shawn would later hand me the setlist when I asked for it after the show.
I headed for their merch booth right after, hoping to meet up with the band. They weren’t out yet, but I did run into Shawn in the interim, who hugged me and posed for a picture before I headed back up to my spot at the rail to wait for Sister Hazel.
Almost the moment they took the stage, they recognized me and my sister from my Instagram post, pointing us out, which started the show on a really high note for us. They started off the performance some of their newer songs. Although I wasn’t that familiar with them, I was thoroughly impressed by their performance—and also by the sheer number of different guitars they cycled through. The vocals sounded even better than their recordings. I was especially impressed with the flawless vocal harmonizing between the members; it’s one of those things I never really think about while listening to a recording, but always impresses me on stage. There is one interesting thing we all learned early on in the performance—rhythm guitarist and sometimes-vocalist Andrew Copeland doesn’t like shoes, and he spent most of the performance barefoot. I give the most style points to assist Jett Beres, though, for his awesome hat.
A couple of times during the performance, keyboardist Dave LaGrande whipped out his saxophone, which he played gorgeously enough that it prompted a woman behind us to say to her companion “I’m not crying, you’re crying” after he played.
The crowd was having a good time, but still pretty subdued. That is until they began playing “Champagne High,” which caused a couple near us to completely lose their minds. They rushed forward to the rail and belted out the entire song in reckless (and probably drunken) enthusiasm. We later learned that this was their wedding song, but from then on out, the energy really ratcheted up as the band dug into their older songs. The floor went from a calmly nodding audience to gaggle of dancing and singing women reveling in their nostalgia in the span of a song or two. If I had had an extra drink or two, I might have been one of them.
I was disappointed to see the show end, but that feeling was lightened by the fact that I finally had the opportunity to meet Matt and Lizzy of Fairview. They were as incredibly sweet and friendly off-stage as they appeared to be on-stage, and my sister and I spent a few minutes gushing over their performance before taking a few pictures with them. They showed us a picture of their incredibly appropriate Halloween costumes—Steve and Robin from Stranger Things. The thing that stood out to me the most was how clearly they made an effort to repeat and remember my name, which was really awesome, and showed they really cared about their fans. They definitely gained a couple of new ones that day, and I’d say that despite how much fun I had walking down memory lane with Sister Hazel, it was those few minutes with Fairview that will really stand out in my memories.
Be sure to check out our full album from this show on our Facebook.