After touring the world for years with some of the biggest names in music — the Foo Fighters, The Smashing Pumpkins, Steel Panther and most recently, 5 Seconds Of Summer — and following a well deserved break, Hey Violet returns to the Bay Area, this time on their first ever U.S headlining tour!
If you’re not familiar with the band, maybe you’d recognize them under their previous name, Cherri Bomb. The members formed back in 2008 — back when they were still in middle school! Original members, Rena and Nia Lovelis and Miranda Miller are joined now on stage by guitarist Casey Moreta and Iain Shipp on bass. They took the world by storm, playing some of the biggest venues (did we mention they even have Warped Tour under their belts, from when they played in 2012 and they’ve played some of the biggest festivals overseas including Supersonic and Reading & Leeds Fest) last year, including a sold out show at Madison Square Garden where they supported 5 Seconds Of Summer.
This time around, things are all about Hey Violet. They kicked off the first of their shows in San Francisco at The Chapel (side note: how cool is this venue? A historic 1914 building originally as a mortuary, with beautiful arched ceilings and mezzanine) this Tuesday night, playing to a joyous overly-packed crowd who only solidify what tonight is all about: good music, positive vibes and Hey Violet.
Fans flood in early to catch opener and musician Jessarae’s set. Originally from Los Angeles, Jess launched his debut EP back in the summer of 2016 which came with a sold out headlining tour. He followed quickly with a second EP, “Stand In The Rain” and his latest “The London Loft Sessions” was released this year.
In a day and age where it’s tempting (and almost acceptable) to simply press ‘play’ on a machine, Jess takes a different, more impressing route as he gears up for his set. He begins by building the back-up to his own songs, looping his own voice to support him as he kicks off the night with the title track to his release, “Stand In The Rain.”
From the get-go, Jess’ talents are on showcase, raw and powerful. The crowd show their support, with screams of encouragement and a bit of overflowing excitement as he plays a new song titled “Fishbowl” that precedes a slower track titled “Don’t Let Them In.” It isn’t until Jess pulls a cover out from under his sleeve: Drake’s very own “One Dance” in an acoustic, upbeat rendition that Jess has made completely of his own. He feeds off the energy of the crowd, who dance and sing along, their smiles mimicking Jess’ own.
Allowing no time for the crowd to settle, Jess swaps one acoustic guitar for another: a beautiful, matte black piece. He shares with the eager faces that the next song is brand new, a number he had been practicing backstage before the show and decided then and there, why not just play it for everyone? The lyrics are something like “I feel the weight of the world inside / I was there for the tears you cried / Your innocence drives me wild” and the words “Hover me” as he treats us to this beautiful track.
He performs “No Warning” and has a bit of a slip up, only lasting a second before he recovers, but the way in which he handled this — a smile, admittance, a laugh and a shake of the head — was so genuine, it only added to the track. And a bit too soon for anyone’s liking, his last track, “Milk and Honey” (for which an acoustic video was just released) is performed and Jess leaves the stage, sincerely thanking the growing crowd with an ear-to-ear smile.
Despite the intermission, the energy built up and filled the venue, only rising in anticipation for Hey Violet to take the stage. There’s no mistaking the show’s beginning as the crowd erupts in excited screams as the five members rush out from backstage, their presence immediately filling the entire venue as they power straight into one of their earlier tracks, “Brand New Moves.”
These girls (and guys – we can’t exclude Moreta and Shipp) mean business. They play a new track ”My Consequence” and “Pure” back to back, just before taking a moment to express how excited they are to be in San Francisco. Rena gushes over the lifestyle the city has the offer — including the cuisine. They laugh about all the stops before the show and joke that it simply wasn’t enough.
“Miranda’s already hungry again…” Lovelis teases as she asks the crowd for suggestions on where they should grab an after-show snack later that night. The entire band is gleaming with mirth as a moment of silence honors everyone’s passion for food.
This seems to set the mood for the entire show. The playful banter continues, and there’s no mistaking the friendship between band mates as they each seem to be exchanging smiles, laughs and those who aren’t tethered to a keyboard or drum kit dance around the stage to jam together.
Lovelis strips herself of her customized bubble gum pink bomber jacket (complete with a super cool bleeding eye back design) as the band gears up to play a fan favorite titled “Unholy.” This darker, bass-heavy track echoes within the walls of this converted mortuary. The dark, punk rock vibe in the air is almost palpable, but it is quickly broken as Rena shows a softer side. She’s addressing the crowd, laughing about her “maternal instinct” coming out. She insists: don’t push [within the crowd, closer to the stage] and, “hugs are fine, just don’t push.”
Tonight is scattered with surprises and premieres of new music as Hey Violet addresses the next, new track. The band seem pleasantly surprised at the elicit screams when the title is spoken, touched that fans already are familiar with the unofficially released music. It’s a song titled “O.D.D” which Rena explains is all about how everyone feels a bit weird and out of place at times…
“…Like you don’t fit in and that’s okay. It’s okay to be different.”
The track is followed by another completely new song, to which just seconds before Rena is supposed to come in with the vocals, you can see her almost frantic as she mouths to her sister Nia and keyboardist Miranda an ‘I forgot!’ and darts off stage only to return fashioned in an oversized black hoodie, appropriate for the song by the same name, “Hoodie.”
The positive energy floats from face to face, the crowd singing along with smiles spread across their lips. It’s impossible to miss Rena’s glittering highlight across her high cheekbones and the very tip of her nose. She looks almost like a fairy — her energetic, petite nature as she dances around to the band’s songs. The show is interrupted, if only for a second as fans scream, “we have bracelets for you” and a genuinely thrilled Rena exclaims, “bring ’em up!” as she stretches over the small sea of fans to reach the one who spoke out, retrieving the colorful gifts and immediately stashing them in a safe place. It’s a quick moment, but it speaks in volumes to the relationship Hey Violet has already established with their dedicated fans.
Earlier this week, they announced the studio version of a song they’ve been performing live for a while to be released this Friday, March 10th. The track, “Break My Heart” ignites within the venue, the up-tempo rhythm paired with Rena’s impressive high-range vocals daring even the parents up on the balcony to dance along.
No one wants to come to terms with reality, and the fact that eventually the show has to come to a close. The upsetting truth is hard to ignore as the band kicks into two of their more-known tracks, “Guys My Age” and of course “Fukboi” which since it’s release in 2016 has been causing parents of the band’s younger fans to raise an eyebrow. It’s impossible not to enjoy this song, despite the profanity, due to the relatable nature of the lyrics. I would place bets on every one of the fans singing along that they are all too familiar with the type of boy described, the one who is always tagging #beastmode on his gym selfies. Rena teases this lyric, her arm raised high in the air, showing off her biceps as the oversized hoodie drapes off her frame. Even as they wrap up their show, there are no tell-tale signs that this is the second to last song versus the second of the night. Fans jump in waves and are all too ready to catch Rena as she jumps into the crowd, disappearing for a second before being lifted for what would be her first ever crowd surfing experience. She’d later call it invigorating, gushing about the moment on social media after the show.
The band has one final surprise for the fans: not ending the show just yet, as many would expect after their biggest hit. The end their show with “All We Ever Wanted,” cutting their setlist one song short (due to a city enforced curfew the venue has no choice but to follow). We were only a little disappointed not to hear their rendition of The Chainsmokers and Daya’s hit, “Don’t Let Me Down” which Hey Violet performed while supporting 5 Seconds Of Summer last year. As impressive as their version is, it is hardly necessary for the band to rely on covers to prove just how talented they are.
The crowd chants for an encore just seconds after the band exists the stage and they hardly give up or lose their spirits even as the lights flicker on within the venue.
san fran never disappoints.. no matter what. i will always be hopelessly in love with this place..
— Nia Lovelis (@NiaLovelis) March 8, 2017
The band take to social media just moments after the show to express their love for San Francisco. It’s a notion that is widely returned by the overflowed declarations of love in return for the band. They followed their San Francisco show with a sold out date in Los Angeles — which only attests to how amazing this band is. If they’re not already on your radar, please visit their official website and give them a listen. Be on the lookout for the release of their next single, “Break My Heart” officially out on Friday!
HEY VIOLET’S SETLIST
Brand New Moves
Break My Heart
Chained Rhythm (Katy Perry cover)
Guys My Age
All We Ever Wanted
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