Hospitality – Music Hall of Williamsburg – March 1, 2014
Hospitality, the Brooklyn-based trio of Amber Papini (guitar, vocals), Brian Betancourt (bass) and Nathan Michel (drums), have returned to the limelight with their sophomore effort, Trouble. After garnering healthy reviews for their self-titled debut, the band’s follow-up introduces an edgier sound that evolves from quieter bedroom recordings to rocking rhythms peppered with atmospheric synths. Described by their label, Merge Records: “If you listen closely, you can hear a band pushing against their own boundaries and limitations until they find the very air around them subtly but perceptibly changed.”
For Hospitality’s homecoming show at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday, Papini and gang played largely from Trouble but didn’t forget the gems from their back catalog. With the addition of a new drummer, David Christian, Michel stretched his prowess beyond drums, shuffling among guitar, keys and fingerboard synths. His mastery of the guitar was highlighted nicely in a solo section on “Nightingale.” And fans cheered for a pair of oldies but goodies, “Friends of Friends” and “The Birthday,” while the heavy-on-the-dance-beats “Rockets and Jets” had the crowd bopping up and down.
To settle down things, the lullabylike “Sullivan” gently oohed and ahhed the room to sweet contentment before the bubbly “8th Avenue” brightened the mood. That second song particularly resembled the sound of label-mates Camera Obscura, despite Papini’s voice being marred by a cold she’d been fighting. Not to let that interfere with the show, she soothed her vocal cords with a mug of a mysterious elixir. The latter half of the show was filled with plenty more from the new album, including “Going Out,” “Inauguration,” “Last Words” and the first single, “I Miss Your Bones.” Not to leave fans unsatisfied, the quartet returned to encore with “Betty Wang.” —Sharlene Chiu