Columbia signee gets with a rousing opening set from pop up-and-comer Betty Who
How does a young band turn one four-song EP into a headlining show at one of Brooklyn's most popular venues? Having a fresh deal with Columbia Records helps, as does having a debut album that everyone wants to hear on the way. Brooklyn-based synthpoppers HAERTS successfully showcased their speedy, Internet-age ascension on Wednesday night (Jan. 9) in a hometown show at Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Following the lead of dance-friendly millennials like CHVRCHES and St. Lucia (whom they've already collaborated with), HAERTS craft spacious, starry-eyed music for synthesizers. Songs like "All the Days" and "Wings" don't blaze new trails, but with all their slick hooks and sparkling production, they're user-friendly, and most often, too delectable to resist.
All four tracks from their debut EP were played, forming the familiar pillars of a 12-song set that often had the feel of an album release party, with the band on hand to perform the unheard tracks rather than simply stream the record. Predictably, the crowd reaction was warmest for the Internet-tested anthems ("Wings," "All the Days," "Hemiplegia," and "All For You"); for the eight unreleased offerings, the audience was apt to dance less and listen more.
In a sense, it seemed the band was testing out the crowd as well. Aside from a few "thank you's" and "hello's," frontwoman Nini Fabi was relatively free of stage banter, with her energy directed primarily towards her yearning vocals and occasional keyboard strokes. HAERTS' other four members did their best job of replicating the whirlwind of layered bliss from their studio cuts, choosing precision over all else.
Rounding out the bill was another pop up-and-comer, New York-by-way-of-Australia singer Betty Who, who opened the show with a charismatic set, dressed, along with her band, in matching "BW" varsity jackets. Their school spirit was a welcome opener to the evening, which peaked with a set-closing performance of the viral hit "Somebody Loves You" -- only this time, the Home Depot flash mob had to be imagined.
Both HAERTS and Betty Who, fresh major label contracts in hand, are expected to offer more substantial releases in 2014. But on Wednesday night, the Music Hall bill showcased the artists doing their best to turn limited output into a stylish declaration of "stay tuned."
Here is the set list from HAERTS' headlining performance: