Rise of the Two-Piece: The Hundred in the Hands
Review by Jason Kinnard | Photos by Alex Crick
Standing on the big(ish) stage at The Crocodile in Seattle, New York’s latest boy/girl Avant-Pop band The Hundred in the Hands seemed miles apart. On the far left, manning an impressive bank of foot pedals, keyboards, and electronic doodads, was Jason Friedman. To his far right was the beautiful Eleanore Everdell on vocals and keyboards. In the sea of music I normally consume, this band immediately stood out to me as something a little different. Turns out, I was right. The show also got me to thinking, why is that so many of the new “hot” “it” bands nowadays seem to be two-piece’s? Then I started doing some research and looking back at some shows from the past year or so. Ohio band Bad Veins just rolled thru town with their own spin on the two-piece (employing some unique technological trickery), Phantogram have certainly done pretty well for themselves (see KEXP/Cutting Room). The list goes on an on with recent bands of memory like Japandroids, No Age, The Kills, Helio Sequence, to name just a few (what are some of your favorite two-piece bands?)
One thing that’s immediately evident from watching any good sounding two-piece up-close is that it looks like a lot of damn work. Sure, the good ones might make it look easy (like Jason Friedman below), but watching The Hundred in the Hands (HITH) last month also made me appreciate what a true artisan can do with his equipment. Yes, the argument could be made that HITH could benefit from the use of live drums or bass, but if minimalism is part of the sound, what’s the point really? Hell, the technology exists to the point nowadays where you almost don’t even need a band anymore, but there are still certain things a computer just can’t do by itself. Luckily, HITH can do the digital to analog schtick better than most I’ve heard.
Despite their on-stage distance, the interplay between the two actually worked for me. it was almost like a strange sexual tension between the two; maybe this was intentional (probably not), or maybe it was just something I was dreaming up in my own mind (more likely). As Jason frantically blazed away on his guitar, Eleanore slithered graciously on her side of the stage and added her slippery smooth vocals to a near flawless electro-wave backdrop, rich with those non-existent bass and drums we talked about. The band played a short but sweet set of just about all of their new material including local favorite “Lovesick (Once Again)”
Lovesick once again
I get slapstick when you walk in
I get so nervous I stutter and flail
I don’t eat,
I’ve gone pale.
*Given all my research on the subject and years of experience, what’s the single best piece of advice I can give to any young aspiring two-piece band? Both of you can’t be ugly.