Opening sets by Boys Like Girls and The Hush Sound have done a great job of warming up the sea of bobbing hipster haircuts and everyone is ready for the main attraction. A burst of girl-screams erupts when the Hellogoodbye backdrop falls into place. Serious indie aficionados everywhere roll their eyes. This is not the place for musical cynicism or snobbery. It is, however, the place for unabashed, bouncy, smiley pop-rock. Hellogoodbye have even captured this mood by turning their stage set into a house party. As they kick off the first tune “All of my Love”, party-dwellers spill onto the stage, blue beer cups in hand, and start dancing behind the band, mingling amongst themselves and occasionally sitting on the couch at the back of the ‘room’. This simple yet smart staging creates the effect that the whole audience is at the party, as if we’re all enjoying the house band at some kick-ass kegger.
At first the boys seem a little overwhelmed by the occasion, understandable since this is only the second stop on their summer-long US tour, but they soon settle into their set, all keyboards and rambunctious power-pop choruses. A lot of their set blends together, the except for the stand-out tracks featuring their recognizable synth and vocoder sound. Thankfully the crowd consists of some serious fans that are singing along to every word and recording every moment on their cell phones.
It is not until the band try to change the frantic pace that a chink in their armor appears. As lead singer Forrest Kline begins the ballad-esque “Oh, It Is Love”, a couple of the party people try to drag his girlfriend onto the stage and she, well, runs away. So Forrest is left to sing his love song to the crowd and due to nerves, embarrassment or a pure case of the giggles, it takes him about 10 minutes to get through the song. But still the fans don’t seem to mind, they’re too busy enjoying the company of their geek-chic heroes.
And all is definitely forgiven once Hellogoodbye launch into their final song and biggest hit, “Here (In Your Arms)”. Every kid in the place is singing along, jumping up and down and grinning as giant party poppers spray streamers over the crowd, the lights go disco-crazy and every hint of apathy is shoved out the door. Sigh. If only every college party could end like this.
Hellogoodbye's first full-length CD, Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs!, is available now on Drive-Thru Records.