The Hotelier

The Hotelier


Let’s begin with an undeniable truth that will set the tone for this review: The Hotelier are fucking awesome. Don’t let the ‘emo’ tag they get tarred with put you off, they are so much more than that. The label comes from their incredible second album Home Like Noplace There Is, of which front man Christian Holden said:

“Our new album deals with some real dark stuff. So to all my brooding and slightly damaged friends, have your happy album or Rugrats in Paris nearby. It’s partly about my experience with friends and loved ones in the past three years which were very complicated, toxic, and abusive. But laid within is a lot about the deconstruction of self for personal growth and transformation. I hope it helps you live and stuff. Apparently we are emo now.”

And so the ‘emo’ tag stuck, because it dealt with some heavy shit. Take the incredible ‘Your Deep Rest’, which is about the suicide of a friend, a song that when played tonight is shouted back word for word at the band, the air being punched by the tattooed arms of the crowd, the guitars soaring as ’I called in sick from your funeral, the sight of your body made me feel uncomfortable’ is hollered at the top of voices passionately feeling everything coming from the stage.  But this band aren’t a serious mope-fest, and things take a turn for the surreal when the support band Roswell Boys invade the stage dressed in lion onesies, adding goofy humour to the feverish intensity in the room; it’s a strange and heartwarming moment.

In case you haven’t guessed, The Hotelier are one of those very special bands who inspire sheer devotion amongst their fans. Their second album was a slow burning, word of mouth success, people passing it on from friend to friend for them to discover and cherish. I found out about them through a feverish thread on the Drowned In Sound music board, people absolutely loved them and I had to find out what the fuss was about. Listening to The Hotelier for the first time was an intense, joyous experience, and I was hooked from the very first note of ‘An Introduction To The Album’, the first song on HLNPTI and tonight almost replicated that experience for me.

The band have a new album due out later this month, and treat us to a handful of new songs throughout the set. There are a couple we’ve already heard, including ‘Piano Player’ and the stunning ‘Soft Animals’, the latter of which is already being sung back at the band despite only being out a couple of weeks, the chorus of ‘make me feel alive, make me feel that I don’t have to die’ bound to be a moment that defines future gigs. It’s the six or seven minute epic ‘Sun’ that is most astonishing though, sounding like nothing they’ve done before, with an almost Caribou-esque repeated refrain of ‘sun, sun, sun’ sustained amongst a pitch perfect early 90s grunge swirl, I can’t wait to hear it again.

Of course it’s the songs from HLNPTI that the crowd lap up with the most passion. When the band launch into ‘An Introduction to the Album’, it’s one of my favourite moments of the year. The crowd sing the words back at Holden over the gently strummed first phase, until the intensity slowly increases up to the wonderful release of the communally shouted ‘FUCK’ before the song breaks into it’s thundering climax, it’s a shit-eating grin, tears in the eyes moment (so fucking emo). ‘Among the Wildflowers’, with it’s story of a friend who’s coming out and struggling to deal is immense, as is the final song ‘Dendron’, again about his friend who committed suicide (‘wish I was there to say goodbye when you went away’), which finishes with the same strummed outro as the melody of ‘An Introduction to the Album’, a fitting place to finish to a brilliant gig. The Hotelier might sound like a morose band, but trust me they are anything but. The final line of my notes on the gig reads FUCKING GLORIOUS AND LIFE AFFIRMING, which is exactly what they are. Don’t believe me? Give Home Noplace Like There Is and join the cult.

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