Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Horse Jumper of Love headlined at The Drake, Electrifies the Audience

Horse Jumper of Love were joined by Strange Mangers and Sapien Joyride for a performance at The Drake on Dec. 7.
Courtesy of Crissy Saucier

Boston-based indie band Horse Jumper of Love headlined a WMUA-hosted show at The Drake on Thursday, Dec. 7. They were accompanied by Strange Mangers and Sapien Joyride.

The Drake, a popular venue in downtown Amherst, had an intimate ambiance with dim yellow electric candles illuminating the sleek walls. Fans waited comfortably in the leather lounge chairs scattered throughout the hall. The empty stage was lit by red, teal and purple lights that reflected off the curtains draped around the stage, amplifying the warm and homey atmosphere of the venue.

The show opened with the energetic Hampshire College band Sapien Joyride, the indie-adjacent band who won WMUA’s Fall 2023 Battle of the Bands. When the three students began to play, the vibe in the venue immediately shifted as the crowd ecstatically headbanged and danced to the groove of their set. Their electrifying performance can be characterized by their insane riffs and booming drum fills. Their set showcased the band member’s raw musical talents, making Sapien Joyride’s performance incredibly memorable for an opening band.

The next opening band, Strange Mangers, shifted the tone set by Sapien Joyride with a mellow and mesmerizing performance of slowcore and shoegaze. Strange Mangers has recently returned to performing live within the past year and have not released new music since 2015. The band covered Duster’s “Gold Dust,” which hypnotized the familiar audience. The audience was enchanted as the four-piece band nodded to the music as if they were similarly entranced by their captivating performance.

Finally, vocalist and guitarist Dimitri Giannopoulos, bassist John Margaris and drummer Jamie Vadala-Doran of Horse Jumper of Love took the stage as the headliners of the night. The murmur of the audience faded as everyone was immediately absorbed by their music. Their uniquely alluring and hypnotic tone was a perfect style for the night’s climax.

The band started by playing tracks off their most recent release, “Heartbreak Rules,” which released this past May. “Heartbreak Rules” isn’t nearly as bold as their previous releases, offering intimate material that highlights lead singer Giannopoulos’s talents.

An early highlight of the set was their gentle, title track performance “Heartbreak Rules.” Giannopoulos’s rhythmic guitar picking, soothing vocals and subtle drums lured the audience into the captivating ups and downs. The audience applauded intermittently as the song faded in and out between verses.

Later in the set, the group performed “Volcano” from their 2019 album “So Divine.” “Volcano” shifted the mood of the performance towards their uniquely bold tone through Giannopoulos’s dynamic vocals. In the live performance, he sang, “I am not going anywhere,” with raw emotion echoing through the crowd, a similarly powerful tone much like the studio version.

Entering the second half of the set, the band performed songs from their popular self-titled album. They introduced the next stage of the performance with “Bagel Breath,” shifting the band’s sound to their iconic whiny guitar tones. During the live performance of this track, the drums were heavier and more pronounced than the studio version.

As the opening notes of “Spaceman” rang out, a fan in the crowd excitedly shouted, “Let’s go!” The weary guitar plucking, droning drum beat and dense bass rumbled the venue, leaving the crowd satisfied.

Horse Jumper of Love concluded their show with the anticipated performance of “Orange Peeler.” The song started with cymbal crashes enhanced by Vadala-Doran’s cymbal sizzle chain echoing the percussive impacts. It felt as if the stage lit up as the hazy preceding songs concluded and were ousted by their upbeat and transformative hit “Orange Peeler.”

With a range of genres throughout the night, and an excited and attentive audience, Thursday was a night to remember at The Drake. The show united the audience and the bands through a common passion for Horse Jumper of Love’s music, and provided an intimate and vibrant break from finals season for local students.

Crissy Saucier can be reached at [email protected].

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