Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe welcomed Slow Hollows to their Byrd Cage on Feb. 12, where the Los Angeles-based indie rock band performed to a small but dedicated crowd. The band showcased its experimental music taste, which catered beautifully to the intimate crowd.
The Byrd Cage, the basement venue of Songbyrd, was dark and cozy, with a stage draped in red velvet curtains and amps painted on the back wall. Album art and band stickers covered almost all visible surfaces, and the space was lit with color-changing mood lighting, giving it a grungy garage feel.
Slow Hollows, formed by Austin Anderson in 2013 with bassist Jamie Atkinson and drummer Nick Santana, began as a simple surf rock trio whose music has evolved and matured. The band currently consists of Anderson, the frontman and singer-songwriter, who also plays piano, guitar and drums, trumpeter Daniel Fox, bassist Aaron Jassenoff and drummer Jackson Katz.
The band has evolved past its more surf rock proclivities into a mixture of lo-fi indie, post-punk and dream pop as Anderson has developed his own style with insights from artists he has worked with such as Tyler, The Creator, Frank Ocean and BROCKHAMPTON. Tyler, The Creator, in particular has become a mentor of Anderson’s, lending an ear to several of their albums and producing “Heart” from “Actors,” which adds a distinct neo-soul sound to their discography.
The concert began with their 2018 single “Selling Flowers,” a dreamy bedroom pop tune that set the tone of their set. As the first song finished, they stopped momentarily so that Jassenoff and Katz could encourage the crowd to “stop being shy” and scoot closer to the stage. The band exuded a sense of casualness that made the entire crowd comfortable engaging with them — they all wore jeans or sweatpants and T-shirts, not putting themselves above the crowd while still giving their all in the performance. This casual nature shined through in their performance, which opened itself to all concertgoers, whether they had heard one song or were die-hard fans.
Anderson himself did not interact much with the crowd, blending into the background whenever he was not singing and allowing Jassenoff and Katz to take the lead in conversing with the crowd. They began a running joke almost immediately: Katz would ask a question, and when someone responded, Jassenoff would shake his head and jokingly say that they don’t interact with the audience.
Slow Hollows performed a sampling of songs from all three of their albums, reaching as far back as 2015’s “Atelophobia”, showcasing their ever-shifting style. The variety of tracks showcased created an expansive range of styles in the band’s music that allowed fans of every age of the band’s music to enjoy a portion of the concert.
The crowd was unfazed, dancing with the musicians on stage whether they played their slow, sad 2015 song “Okay” or “You Are Now on Fire,” an upbeat song from their newest album. Rather than singing along, the crowd was almost quiet as they listened to Anderson croon softly into the mic. The instruments frequently played over his singing, honing the focus of the performance on to the real draw of their songs: their typical inventive genre crossovers.
Anderson, who loosened up considerably during the course of the concert, told the crowd when there were only two songs left, which immediately sent his bandmates into a frenzy of playing. The crowd began jumping up and down and headbanging. Fox, who switched between playing the piano and the guitar all night, put one leg on Jassenoff as they played their instruments.
Anderson took the opportunity to move toward Katz on the drums and play with him, dancing around while Katz kept the beat. Just as they finished their last song, one of the strings on Anderson’s guitar broke, and the rest of the band began to improvise a tune while he squatted on the floor to restring it. As he fixed his guitar, Anderson counted down from 30, and as soon as he hit one, the band jumped into the last song of the night as though nothing had happened in the middle. This exciting conclusion exemplified the carefree nature of the show.
Due to the small, intimate setting, each of the band members mingled with the audience after the set ended, taking photos, signing autographs, manning the merch tables and having normal conversations. Despite Slow Hollows’ continued success as an alternative, indie rock band and the attention they receive from high-ranking musicians such as Kevin Abstract and Tyler, The Creator, Anderson and the rest of his band evoke a feeling of familiarity and casualness that few live acts can match today.