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Review: The Hollows, Mercies, and Lily & the Parlour Tricks at Knitting Factory

by Photo of Ross Bernhardt

Terrific songwriting and rambunctious live performances were on full display last Friday night.

Last Friday night at the Knitting Factory, I had the pleasure of taking in a triple bill that entertained from start. Beginning with Lily & the Parlour Tricks, continuing with Mercies, and finishing with The Hollows, all three groups entertained in a decidedly different way. But the common denominator for all three groups was how the crowd responded to each act. 

I haven't seen that much dancing at a show in years. The Knitting Factory is a pretty decent-sized venue, but the frenzied atmosphere on the dance floor gave it the feel of an old, small gymnasium or church hall where a sock hop was taking place. The dancing wasn't just resigned to the fast-paced tunes: the slow jams had people swaying and yelling out the words right along with the groups, clamoring for more and more. Good music has that kind of power, and there was no shortage of it last Friday.

Brooklyn band The Hollows put on a rip-roaring good show. There's no clear comparison to make or genre to associate with these guys because they sound wholly unique. Their approach seems to change from song to song with everyone in the group getting a chance to shine. There's no lead vocalist, only the guy singing the current song (not to mention the tremendous harmonizing done behind whoever is taking the lead). Banjos an mandolins and keyboards populate the stage as the band fluctuates between Americana, folk, rock, bluegrass and classic southern rock sounds.

One minute they can sound like the Punch Brothers, the next minute they give off a strong Marshall Tucker Band vibe, like in the song below:

Throughout the set, the members moved around and switched instruments, had a few choreographed moves during some jam sessions, and really got the crowd into it, especially with their rousing finale “Whiskey and Wine,” which played great with the crowd. It's easy for music like this to sound kind of stale,  or generic, but because they keep every song so fresh (and are having such a good time doing it), nothing falls flat. These guys are crowd pleasers, and their live shows are definitely must-sees.

The band that kept the crowd alive and ready for The Hollows was Mercies, a trio out of Connecticut who really put on a solid show. Lead singer/guitarist Josh Rheault has a commanding voice that reminds me a lot of Manchester Orchestra front man Andy Hulls with just a really tiny hint of Interpol thrown in. It has this sophisticated yet raw feeling that just adds this extra layer of juice to the songs. I don't know exactly why, but I almost got a Kings of Leon feeling from the music behind Rheault, which turned into a pleasant combination. The folk elements are strong, but there is a much stronger emphasis on rock, at least during their live show. 

The work on the bass by Jordan Flower and percussion by Sammy dent also can't be ignored, as the trio really combine for a tight sound. Their set went to the next level when they busted out a cover of “In My Room” by the Beach Boys. Their version intros with a sort of edgy sound before developing into a lively midsection and finishing as softly as it started. It was a really nuanced take from the group, and it gave the crowd

The group that got the night off to an energetic start was New York group Lily & the Parlour tricks, a six-piece group with a strong penchant for lyrical storytelling and a captivating live performance. 

I had been listening to their music leading up to the show, but nothing could have prepared me for the high energy they bring to the stage. Lily Claire Nussbaum leads a performance that feels old-school and keeps the crowd moving. Lily and the backing Parlour Tricks clap, stomp, twirl and wail all to a sound that approaches rockabilly at times but can stay restrained at others. 

Everything is held together by Lily's dynamite vocals (as well as the harmonizing done behind her). It's amazing that she is able to maintain those notes while she moves around on the stage like that. There is a mysterious quality about her voice that I just can't place, but whatever “it” is makes me listen that much more intently to the words she is saying. Their set felt like a whirlwind, and I definitely wanted to hear more after the last note had been sung.

Anytime you see a band live, something different gets brought to the table. That felt especially true with these three bands, who really give those in the crowd their money's worth with the shows they put on. If you're looking for a good time, definitely check out these bands. You won't regret it.

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