Boston’s Hallelujah the Hills released their fifth album, A Band is Something to Figure Out, back in April, and more recently released a 7” EP of six one-minute songs, Movement Scorekeepers. On them, songwriter and frontman Ryan Walsh continues his trend toward balancing the literate (but don’t call them literary!) and the fun aspects in their music that makes them unique. Though the modern realities of making indie rock (such as, you know, having to have “real” jobs outside of music) have gotten in the way of much touring (something to figure out, indeed!), the band finally managed to do a small run of east coast dates in support of the records recently, including a stop in DC at the Black Cat backstage.
For their first visit to the District in well over three years, the band played a mix of tracks from all five of their albums, but focused primarily on their last two. Walsh opened the set with an acoustic rendition of “Try This Instead” from their 2014 album Have You Ever Done Something Evil? before the whole group broke into the punky, upbeat “I Stand Corrected,” featuring the shouted choruses which have become part of the their defining sound. These were followed by new album tracks “We Have the Perimeter Surrounded” and “What Do the People Want.” The band played two songs from Movement Scorekeepers, “Are We Failing?” and “I Don’t Go There Anymore.” The older releases were represented by one song each – “Hungry Ghost Extraordinaire” from 2012’s No One Knows What Happens Next, “Allied Lions” from 2009’s Colonial Drones, and the self-titled “Hallelujah the Hills” from their 2007 debut, Collective Psychosis Be Gone. After “Honey, Don’t It All Seem So Phony” (from their 2013 compilation Portrait of the Artist as a Young Trash Can) and one more new track, “The Mountain That Wanted More,” the band closed off the main set with their one cover of the night, The Velvet Underground’s “Run Run Run.”
The band returned to play a three-song encore – “We Are What We Say We Are” from the 2014 album, as well as two more tracks from their debut album, “(the crux of the camera man)” and “Slow Motion Records at Break Neck Speeds.”
Hallelujah the Hills are a band that, in this modern age, has it figured out – a formula which gives them a unique sound and has allowed them to exist for over a decade now while many of their contemporaries have come and gone. They may not make it out on the road often, but they’ve still managed to maintain an enviable level of steady output and musical growth. It may be a little while until they come back, but when they do, it will be a show well worth seeing.
Local musicians The Hartford Pussies and Alex Vans opened the show.