There wasn’t much missing from Hector on Stilts’ performance this past weekend. The members of the stylish quartet all demonstrated their unfailing musicality and put on a show good enough to keep an honest crowd of 20 around for the entire night.
The group opened up with an element of its music that would set the standard for the night – sweet vocal harmony between the two cousins and founders of the group, Clayton and Jeb Colwell. The song “Same Height Relation,” named after its latest full album release in 2005, served as a warm-up for both the band and the crowd, getting things off the ground.
The quartet continued their set with tracks mainly off its 2005 release. Jeb, naturally the front man of the group with his near seven-foot frame, led the way vocally with the constant rise and fall of his driving voice. The instrumentation was reminiscent of The Fray with a nice set of underlying drums and bass and complementing guitars to top it off. With its feel-good opening, “Taxi” drove the crowd members to bounce their heads, and “Tongue-tied” got those in attendance clapping along.
Some flavor was added when the group played tracks off its latest EP, Fun Size. The band members seemed to stray away from the popish major key works from Same Height Relation and added a hypnotizing feel to their music, but the strong rhythm section kept the crowd moving. The group slowed it down with “Winterland,” a piece with nostalgic lyrics and heartbeat drums.
Then things livened up with my favorite song of the night, “1880.” It had a catchy enough beat and I accepted the challenge to a dance-off with bassist Jenn McCarron. Her riffs had an element of funk, Jeb revealed the lower end of his vocal range, Clayton took over the keyboard and the lyrics mused on the ironies of life (“I’ve got a job for now that pays nothing”). The grand ending and bouncing and bobbing crowd almost made you forget you were at Williams.
The band continued to impress and keep the crowd dancing. Drummer John Brodeur grabbed the spotlight when he led vocals on a song with a Thriller-esque introduction, while McCarron stole attention with her dance moves and by taking over the drums for a couple of songs. Most impressive was the welcome similarity between their live rendition and their recorded music. Every element from vocal harmonies to background melodies was there, proving that each member of the band is invaluable.
The group continued to pull tricks out of its sleeve – catchy rhythm changes, call and answer lyrics, a twist of synth and perfect-pitch falsettos so high that there were crowd members down on their knees praising the band’s talents. They answered the crowd’s request to play “Billie Jean,” which led straight into an awesome cover of Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up.”
Based out of Albany, Hector on Stilts righteously took over one end of Currier Ballroom from wall to wall and rocked for the entire two-hour set. It’s a shame there wasn’t more of a crowd to support a group local enough that if you want more, it’s nearby for the taking. Come on board quickly though, because soon Hector on Stilts will be moving down to New York, and then you’ll only wish you knew the bad before it got even bigger.