Review: The Helio Sequence at the Bluebird Theater, with Menomena, 10/24/13
THE HELIO SEQUENCE at BLUEBIRD THEATER | 10/24/13
When Brandon Summers pulled out his harmonica last night at the Bluebird, we all what was coming, "Harmonica Song," of course. Summers blew into his mouth harp like he was playing some kind of strange blues rock song, and he did so with so much momentum and energy that it didn't really fit neatly into any kind of rock subgenre. It was a bright spot in a set of entrancingly uplifting yet moody music.
After a long drive from Nebraska, Summers and drummer Benjamin Weikel were in great spirits. It didn't seem like they were expecting such a warm and enthusiastic reception, but that's what they got, and the guys gave back with a great performance. The Helio Sequence's set last night drew mostly from the act's two most recent albums, 2008's Keep Your Eyes Ahead and 2012's Negotiations. Opening the set with "One More Time," from the latter album, the band paced itself well, striking a heightened pique of emotion and sound and then pulling back to near silence.
The expertly textured and sequenced "The Captive Mind" was reminiscent of '80s-era New Order and Talk Talk at the same time in the way it expressed a complex emotional state with utter clarity through its melody. "Hall of Mirrors," one of the outfit's finest songs, harkened to Kilimanjaro-period the Teardrop Explodes, with an elegant and compelling melody that had inventive shifts in tone that engendered a shift in mood from melancholic to hopeful with a subtle but powerful shift in key.
The set closed with "Hallelujah" to much rejoicing from the audience. That tune, especially live, proved a great example of a song that breaks outward and expands to linger at the end. Rather than devolving into abstraction off into the stratosphere, it engulfed you. After the end of the main set, the band didn't keep us waiting long for an encore, and came back for two more songs from Keep Your Eyes Ahead, "You Can Come To Me" and "Lately."
Keep reading for a review of Menomena's set, Setlists and Critic's Notebook