The blue sky of Sunfest’s final day was complemented by the “sunshine reggae” of this Hawaiian/Californian band. Guitarist/frontman Micah Pueschel led the band through a sampling of the group’s nine years’ worth of releases, and also a couple new songs. The upbeat single “Reelin” was released about a week before that show, and “Midnight”, a track from the upcoming summer release “Hotting Up” was also performed. The appreciative college-aged audience sang along with a lot of the material, which included crowd favourites such as “Turn Around” and “Summer Nights.” The group’s other guitarist/vocalist Micah Brown sang lead for the Bob Marley cover “Is This Love”, with bassist Adam Taylor smiling behind his shades the whole show. The encore consisted of more popular material: “Falling” and “Time Bomb.”
Irish artiste Andrew Hozier-Byrne deserves some style points for his atmospheric staging. Light beams of various colours cut through the dark and the smoke, making the stage look like the interior of a gloomy cathedral.
The other notable visual feature was the Hozier name rendered in jagged strokes; in addition to appearing in the typical kick-drum location and on other equipment, the logo appeared most notably as a large backlit display at the rear of the stage.
Normally, the plastering of an artist’s name all over his stage would indicate a massive ego, but the writer of the song seemed anything but that. Even though the large screaming audience appeared to be very familiar with his material, he still took a lot of time in between songs to talk about their meanings, making his large-stage festival show feel more like an intimate coffee-house appearance.
In addition to a typical lineup of keyboards, bass, guitars and two female backing vocalists, the band’s instruments also included a cello.
Hozier himself strummed a lovely assortment of guitars as he sang selections from his 2014 self-titled debut. The material ranged from bluesy tunes (“To Be Alone”, “It Will Come Back”), ornate acoustic ballads (“Like Real People Do”) and string-oriented songs (“Someone New”).
As might be expected, the last song of Hozier’s set was his international hit ballad, “Take Me To Church.” Certainly a soulful way to end a Saturday night.