HOVVDY @ Le Ministère

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HOVVDY in Montreal

Walking out after the Hovvdy show tonight, I remark to my wife “they were a lot more grunge-emo than I expected!”  My wife responds: “yeah? I thought they were a lot more country!”  How is it possible that we both heard things so differently?  In any case, the live show by the wiki-described “pop duo” is very different from the campfire acoustic vibes of the records.  How many types of music can one reviewer drop into an opening paragraph?!

Le Ministère is pretty packed for the return of the Texas 2-piece, returning to Montreal for the first time in 4 years in support of their stellar fourth record True Love.  The show starts out with the acoustic mellow chill and swirling lights of new song Town, which follows the strum blueprint of the latest record, even if it doesn’t actually appear on it.  Lifted follows a similar pattern, with opener Molly Parton enlisted to add her angelic vocals to an already heavenly number.  Petal and 1999 see guitarist Charlie Martin switch to piano to tone things down even further in conjunction with his perfect harmonies with guitarist Will Taylor.

It’s on the latter of those songs that things take their first diversion into the country vibes my wife detected, as touring bassist Ben switches to the horizontal slide guitar to add a real bluegrass vibe, and is revisited again a few songs later with the arrival of One Bottle from the new record, which comes across much moodier and less acoustic than on the recording.

The forays into the heavier side of the set also arrive subtly at first.  Runner sounds like Conor Oberst dipping his toes into that grunge pool before things veer off into the realm of Sunny Day Real Estate on Blindsided and PretendFeel Tall seems to throw in a dash of Jawbreaker into that mix.  After Around Again ends in a flurry of white light beams flailing around the room, signature song True Love closes out the set, unsurprisingly also transformed into an absolute bona fide rock anthem in the live setting.  The singalong is huge as the band let the crowd roar out the outro refrain of “Do you believe what I said /
That I am the man I say I am?”
unaccompanied for the first few rounds, before Charlie and Will join to close out the main set before a jumping floor.

A good chunk of the crowd leaves; the setlist says it’s over.  However, to everyone’s surprise, the band return for an impromptu encore; “we did not plan on this; thanks so much y’all!” declares Charlie.  With that, Montreal is treated to an extra song in the form of Keep It Up, another blazing rock-out, to end the triumphant 80-minute set.  

Certainly, not the show me or my wife had anticipated; no, it was even better.

Set List

  1. Town
  2. Mr. Lee
  3. Petal
  4. 1999
  5. Junior Day League
  6. Lifted
  7. Runner
  8. Blindsided
  9. In the Sun
  10. Feel Tall
  11. Joy
  12. Pretend
  13. One Bottle
  14. Everything
  15. Cathedral
  16. I Never Wanna Make You Sad
  17. Around Again
  18. True Love


  1. Keep It Up

Review & photos – Simon Williams

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