Hey Marseilles pleases diverse crowd at Iron Horse

By Gina Lopez

Katy McCourt-Basham/Flickr)
(Katy McCourt-Basham/Flickr)

Hey Marseilles headlined at the Iron Horse in downtown Northampton last Saturday, successfully setting the stage and mood for the night. The Bad Bad Hats, a quirky, warm-hearted, nostalgic group from Minnesota, opened for them.

Hey Marseilles began their show in good spirits, sharing the news of their new self-titled album– released Feb. 5 – while quieting the eager crowd with their Mumford and Sons-meets-Band of Horses harmonious sound.

Behind them, working as a backdrop, looming pine trees stood against a smiling yellow moon, preluding their musical style of reflection on both times of heartbreak and confusion and love and adventure.

The band hails from Seattle where the Seattle Times referred to them as an indie-folk and chamber-pop band. Hey Marseilles came together in 2006, releasing their first album “Travels and Trunks” in 2008.

The group is made up of seven members: Matt Bishop (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Philip Ward Kobernik (accordion, piano), Samuel Anderson (cello, electric bass) and Jacob Anderson (viola).

The band was no stranger to the atmosphere of the Iron Horse – they stated it was their third time performing there – and humbly added it was a great crowd for them.

Their confidence and excitement in sharing their newest album radiated throughout the performance in such a way that, even as new bandwagon fan, I was warmed by the sound of their voices.

The highlight of the new titular album, “Hey Marseilles,” was the single “Eyes on You,” as it began as a slow-paced love song and worked its way up to the culmination where the lead singer battled over his feelings for a woman and his sense of identity, eventually insinuating that he lost himself when he fell in love.

Most of their compositions began with a considerable instrumental period that allowed their viola and cello players (Samuel and Jacob Anderson) time to impress, respectively.

Following the instrumentals were songs that remained unified in stylistic and harmonious decisions with a perfect balance of differentiation from song to song that kept the crowd lively.

Throughout the entire show, I couldn’t help daydreaming about the idea of going on a long drive with Hey Marseilles playing in the background. Their songs of extended journeys of self-discovery and haphazard travel could inspire even the homiest of homebodies to venture out.

The band’s clever variation from song to song held the possibility for a wide array of emotions, perfect for a struggling romantic, empowered single or happily involved couple to rejoice in.

In between songs, Bishop and other band members refused to allow the crackling energy to dissipate. They pitched jokes about millennials and their lack of tangible music purchases, saying, “I know that no one listens to CDs anymore, but you can donate $15 to our gas fund and use it as coaster.”

In his explanation of his creative muses, Bishop confessed that much of the music from his previous albums was created in his college bedroom, accompanied by his old acoustic guitar and adolescent heartbreaks – adding that not much has changed since then, except his guitar and the girls.

The friendly dynamic and musical chemistry that has developed among the band members after 10 years of collaboration would be evident to a stranger on the street.

Hey Marseilles has an unbeatable feel-good, indie jam session-type of feeling that has left me no choice but to play it on repeat every chance I get.

Gina Lopez can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @ginalopez138.