Embellished in their polished apparel, Halos started their set at the Viper Room in Hollywood with Hekla – slow and sweet with quiet guitar and light harmonies leading into a heavy instrumental. This deftly transitioned into Breaking Windows where Halos really proved they are on a higher level. The band is very tight musically and as a group. The music has become more of an evocative experience, making not only the show more powerful but getting the audience emotionally involved.

Dan Lyman’s opportune eye contact with his onlookers compels a fierce connection to the music and the musicians themselves. Hints of Josh Huber on the keyboard enhanced the harmonies between Dan and John Hoge’s vocals as well as the harmonies between Zak Freedman and Dan’s guitars. Sotiris Eliopoulos contributed heartfelt beats, framing the band and keeping perfect time. The Viper Room’s lighting and fog effects complimented the emotion even further, creating hazy silhouettes of each member of Halos and lighting them in flattering blues and greens.

Their fourth song, Amalgam, gave Dan the opportunity to inform his crowd of their new music video being featured on Fuse this month. John lost his bass strap during Equilibrium but it didn’t faze anyone, instead, it demonstrated their reflexive energy. John merely began the next song saying, “That’s why you bring a backup!” The beauty of not sticking exactly to the album but still sounding impeccable is the vigor that exudes from the band onto the crowd – how losing your strap, sweating, getting a dry throat or losing your breath builds vehement energy.

Their newest song, Delta, took the passion of Halos beyond comprehension, creating a force that pulled from the chest and fastened to the notes of the music. A connection that seems to not be unusual for the members of Halos as their bodies tend to tug from their chests when they close their eyes and let their fervent subconscious take over.

The crowd took well to Halo’s ambient rock and cheered and hollered after every song. Although the crowd was too entranced to catch the clap-in-time opportunities, they surely will not miss a beat when they return to the next Halos show.

Be sure to catch their new video for Amalgam on the Fuse ‘on demand’ channel or online at Amalgam - Fuse.tv and keep your head to the ground for what Halos has coming soon!

-Britt Witt

Happy Hollows + Gangi @ Viper Room

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.

Britt Witt

Originally posted on LARecord.com: Happy Hollows+Gangi / LA Record