By Matt Kelchner
On a chilly and windy Sunday night, Worcester, MA’s The Hotelier brought their tour into Philadelphia for the final night of their two and a half week trek. Along for the ride with them were tour mates Oso Oso and Alex Napping. Despite their most recent album being over one and a half years old, the basement of the First Unitarian Church was packed with fans eager to shout the lyrics of their favorite songs.
Openers for the night, Oso Oso and Alex Napping, gave proof that there is still new talent in a scene that has become increasingly crowded. Alex Napping put out Mise En Place, their most recent, on one of the top scouts of the indie music scene, Father/Daughter Records back in May. Through their handful of songs, the group demonstrated their knack for clever writing that teeters back and forth between catchy indie rock and an artful side of punk.
Oso Oso were no strangers for a good chunk of people in the crowd Sunday night. On record Oso Oso is Jade Lilitri, playing everything except drums, and Aaron Masih, who plays drums. On stage, things were filled out two additional members on guitar and bass. At the very beginning of 2017, Lilitri put out the yunahon mixtape, a fantastic record that will be one of the best under-the-radar albums of the year. Much of it was on display as Lilitri and company flowed from the likes of “reindeer games”, “the cool” and “the walk”.
It was a night that was almost left without its headliner. But thanks to some mechanic who The Hotelier later dedicated their performance to (and whose name I can’t remember), they made it just in time. Walking in just as the last opener is setting up isn’t an ideal way to end a tour, but such was the hand that was dealt. Thankfully, the situation did not dampen any spirits that night.
The set featured a mix of their 2014 breakout album Home, Like No Place Is There and the more recent Goodness, with a slight edge going towards the latter. The Hotelier started with the first two songs from Home, “An Introduction to the Album” and “The Scope of All of This Rebuilding”. This one-two punch is one of the best kickoffs to any record. It also happens to make for one of the best starts to a concert.
While Goodness shows the group maturing as songwriters, it’s still the sing-along anthems of “Your Deep Rest”, “In Framing” and the others that really got the crowd moving. This isn’t to say that the newer songs went unnoticed. Tracks like “Two Deliverances” and “Soft Animal” that shines on the album translated well when played live. The two instrumental interludes were even worked into the set.
Before ending with “End of Reel”, lead singer and bassist Christian Holden half-jokingly asked the crowd where exactly bands go during their break before the encore (this was in the basement of a church after all). After wrapping up their last song, the four huddled to the side of the stage for their “break” before coming out for one last crowd pleaser. Just as The Hotelier started with the first two tracks off Home, they ended with the last one – “Dendron”.
After the last notes of “Dendron” rang out and The Hotelier said their goodbyes, the crowd shuffled and prepared for the cold that was to follow shortly. People lingered and made their way to the front of the stage to get their selfies and chitchats in with the band members packing their instruments and gear up. Once again The Hotelier proved why they’re viewed as one of the tops in the music community that they call home.