I walked up the dark stairs to the always obnoxiously loud Viper Room to find Happy Hollows opener, Gangi. In hindsight, I can understand why this was the band to get the ball rolling for Happy Hollows—they were quirky, spontaneous, and sort of offered unpredictable music. Realistically, they sounded like a band made of your friends back in college that wanted to have some fun making noises that sounded good together. Gangi resembled the dark music from the ’90s that attempted to imitate Kurt Cobain, with some redeeming beats and melodic guitar riffs towards the end of their set.
Finally, after waiting almost an hour for Happy Hollows to set up, they hit the stage with a bang. Beautiful Sarah Negahdari was all smiles and giggles as she stood at the mic and began playing their first song. She emoted so much energy on the small Viper Room stage that it poured out onto the crowd and made the happy music even more of a jovial experience. Throughout the entire show, Sarah never showed a sign of tiring, throwing her head up and down, bouncing and jumping around the stage. Charlie and Chris possessed their own endless amounts of energy—not once did any of the three ever stop playing music to drink water, stall to relax or maybe even breathe. To be honest, it is hard to focus on all the logistics and technicalities of the music because watching the band play is so enamoring. The three bandmates stand in their individual space but flow together like a school of fish. Each of the band members possess an acute understanding of their own instruments and each other that gives them the ability to pick up on each player’s energy and use that to strengthen the music. I suppose that is what being a good musician and playing over a hundred shows does for a band.
Standing tall, Sarah emitted the Happy Hollows’ natural Silverlake / Echo Park vibe onto the Hollywood crowd in her striped cardigan and short black shorts. “It means so much to us to come out to the Westside and see so many of you guys!” Sarah giggled. She continued to verbally realize how close Hollywood actually is but how far away it feels. Happy Hollows continued their set with yet another song for Sarah to exhibit her guitar skills and shred unlike anyone would expect. Their second song was fast paced and energizing, getting the crowd just as worked up as the sweat flying off of Charlie’s forehead. Sarah’s voice dipped to low lows and shreaky highs to match the melodic guitar and bass riffs and—Sorry, I completely just lost all focus on Happy Hollows because this enormous inebriated man has decided to play his drunken, erotic air guitar right in front of me. And he is staring at me dead in the eyes. Still going, apparently this endless Happy Hollows energy is contagious. Ah, finally he has exhausted himself and Happy Hollows moves on to their next song, which further exemplifies how Sarah’s energy commands how the song comes off to her crowd. Their third song was darker than the first two and Sarah’s energy was there to match—the whimsical bouncing was replaced by more fixated stares as the music became more straight-lined.
Live, Happy Hollows resembles listening to their record—very acute and strong. Nothing ever lingers, not even the ring of the cymbals. They ensure keeping every note tight and finishing every song abruptly. Their ability to essentially marathon-play leaves a stronger, unexpected impression. They also manage to incorporate an instrumental breakdown in almost every song, and an awesome one at that, making all three of them much more reputable musicians. By their sixth song, Sarah was on the floor spinning with her guitar and their seventh song switched the set up by having Charlie sing while Sarah clapped and made hand jives inspired by the lyrics. Their back-to-back playing made the friendly relationship between Sarah and Charlie even more believable and the strobe lights increased the exciting effect of all their movement and the anything-but-monotonous music. The ninth song had so many varying riffs that ADD and boredom couldn’t stand a chance and Sarah continually gave the music the personality it is meant to have through her spontaneous screams, impromptu dancing and the occasional putting her guitar on her head and wandering the stage. Watching Sarah makes the music even more redeeming than simply listening to the record—she is funny to watch and reminds me of a happy child.
Their twelfth song further proved the true talent of the group through the fast paced playing and real test of how quick their fingers could move. They easily aced the test and looked good doing it—There is rarely a stoic, thinking look. Instead, their faces are painted with big smiles and it seems impossible for the band to boringly stand still.
Originally posted on LARecord.com: Happy Hollows+Gangi / LA Record