It seems like Hop Along is the busiest band in the world these days. They’ve been steadily rolling out singles from their new album Bark Your Head Off, Dog since January, and today that new record is finally out. Lucky for us, ahead of their quickly sold-out record release show tomorrow night, the band found time to stop by World Cafe Live for the second act of today’s Free at Noon doubleheader.
Hop Along has been a favorite of the Philly scene for quite some time — as vocalist/guitarist Frances Quinlan pointed out, she’s been playing under some variation of the band’s name for about 13 years. “That’s as old as an eighth grader,” Quinlan said, adding that Hop Along is having a much better eighth grade year than she did.
And after today’s show, we can certainly confirm that. This was Hop Along’s first hometown show since their appearance at last year’s XPN Fest, and the first time we’ve heard songs from the incredible new record live. It was also their first time performing as a five-piece — the band recently added Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian as their touring guitarist/keyboardist.
All of that made for quite a gripping performance. Even though Hop Along’s set was short, the band turned it into the perfect preview of what their upcoming shows will sound like, showcasing a few of Bark Your Head Off, Dog‘s standout tracks (actually, the whole record is a standout and you should listen to it immediately if you haven’t already).
It’s hard to top a song like “Tibetan Pop Stars,” but Hop Along has somehow done it several times over with Bark Your Head Off, Dog. There’s no vocalist in the world like Frances Quinlan — the band opened with a somewhat stripped-down version of the new record’s six-minute closing track “Prior Things,” using acoustic guitar for full effect. In the middle of the winding journey of a song that is “Not Abel,” Quinlan, standing off to the side of the stage and slightly out of the spotlight, found time to swap out guitars for the rest of the set.
In between songs the band conversed with the audience about the brunch we apparently all missed out on, and Quinlan made up outlandish descriptions of her bandmates for those listening on the radio. After playing the record’s lead single “How Simple,” Quinlan introduced the band’s last song, “One That Suits Me,” by explaining simply, “This song’s about World War I” — a perfect example of how Hop Along will never hesitate to tackle something unusual in their music and make it delightful.
Hop Along plays a sold-out gig tomorrow night at Johnny Brenda’s, and their upcoming tour will bring them back to town for a homecoming show at Union Transfer on May 19, which is also now sold-out.
Check out photos from the set below.
One That Suits Me
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