First Fleet Concerts Presents:
HUNNY & Hockey Dad
212 4th Street
Des Moines, IA, 50309
Doors 5:00 PM / Show 5:30 PM
This event is all ages
HUNNY is a band from Newbury Park, CA who made a name for themselves in early 2015 releasing their debut single “Cry for Me" which was met with wide acclaim from bloggers and fans alike. Three years and several releases later, they've proven that they're much more than just one song. Their catalog has amassed over 14 million Spotify streams globally to date in addition to selling out rooms across the US. HUNNY is front man and guitarist Jason Yarger, guitarist Jake Goldstein, bassist and keyboardist Kevin Grimmett, and drummer Joey Anderson.
Best mates first, bandmates second – the heart of Hockey Dad has always existed in the friendship between duo Zach Stephenson and Billy Fleming, who first met in early childhood, growing up two doors apart in the unassuming, laid back Australian coastal town of Windang, New South Wales. The foundations for the band began in early 2013, when an underage Fleming and Stephenson would sneak into their local live music haunt to catch their favorite bands. Eventually they were granted regular slots playing to an ever-growing crew of enthusiastic friends turned fans and released their Dreamin’ EP on local Wollongong indie label Farmer & The Owl in 2014.
Now, the duo are on the verge of releasing their highly-anticipated second album Blend Inn, the follow up to 2016’s debut Boronia. Where Boronia celebrated the long days of summers past, of mates, the ocean and the sublime naivety of youth, Blend Inn is Fleming and Stephenson coming to us with more perspective following a year of relentless touring which took them far from the streets and waves of their hometown.
The growth that Hockey Dad have experienced over the past 18 months has been no accident. The fast-paced, punk style of Billy’s drums is executed in perfect synchronicity with Zach’s jangly guitar, anthemic choruses and ever confident vocals to give life to their unmistakable and infectious brand of rock-pop. After Boronia‘s release, the duo embarked on sold out tours across Australia and toured extensively through North America, including showcases at SXSW and a Canadian tour with Dune Rats. 2017 took them to the UK, Europe, and further across Australia, including more shows alongside Dune Rats and Wavves in some of the country’s biggest venues – a world away from the 70 cap band room where Hockey Dad first cut their teeth.
Landing in Seattle, the recording of Blend Inn began with renowned audio engineer and producer John Goodmanson (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Cloud Nothings) at Robert Lang Studios. The studios, supposedly haunted, echo with their iconic past, having housed many of rock’s legends over its time, including the Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Death Cab For Cutie, Alice In Chains, and most notably, Nirvana, who recorded their last song there – the mic used in Kurt Cobain’s final studio track still hangs in tribute. Here, Hockey Dad found a home away from home.
Where Boronia spoke of a physical place, named for home, Blend Inn refers to somewhere more introspective. “Blend Inn is the part of your head that you want to go to when you’re overseas and wishing you were back home, it’s within,” says Fleming. “We’re always just trying to be comfortable and semi blending in, so it’s the name we gave to that place you zone out to.” The album is Hockey Dad’s boldest output to date, a natural progression for Fleming and Stephenson as they face the tribulations of young adulthood, a theme reflected across the record.
Blend Inn holds onto the charm and energy of youth which won hearts originally – the playfulness, the edge, that quintessential Hockey Dad surf rock sound – but it comes to us from two people with an expanded mindset. “We’re still kids,” reflects Fleming. “But we’re just a little bit more… experienced.”
When first arriving on the Bay Area music scene in late 2014, Pllush made a dent with a powerful set of tracks that fit nicely within the rising wave of shoegaze/dream pop revival bands at the time. However, due to an undeniable songwriting prowess that extends far beyond convoluted pedal-board setups or louder amps, Pllush had elevated themselves into a league of sonic mastery, not dissimilar from obvious touchstone influences (i.e. Mazzy Star, Slowdive, Portishead). The quartet’s second batch of songs, Please, furthered their growing following and replaced their initial gravitation towards maxed-out guitars and splashed cymbals with an eerie, groove-filled bent, channeling Drop Nineteens at their most tender, and imbuing Grass Widow-esque layers of harmony into songs already dense with melody.
As the world around the band has changed in the interim between releases, they have followed suit- they added an “L” to the name, and undergone the whirlwinds of personal flux that naturally occur in such extended periods of time. But rest assured: the only dynamic of the band that has changed is by each member doubling down into the personal qualities that made this group so special in the first place. Which brings us to the year 2018, and the release of Pllush’s debut LP, Stranger to the Pain.
Whereas on earlier releases, singer/guitarist Karli Helm merely teased her abilities as a singer, here she fully embraces her natural pop-tinged mastery of the human voice, now sounding far more like a contemporary of Kate Bush and Alicia Keys on standouts like “Restart”, pushing the boundaries of the Rock and Roll genre while layering dizzying harmonies over an instrumental track that Built to Spill would kick themselves for not thinking of first. Meanwhile, Eva Treadway provides a perfect foil with an effortlessly cool approach to laying her sometimes light-hearted (“Ortega”) and frequently heartbreaking (“Fallout”) lyrics over her more driving style of guitar playing, as indebted to Slanted and Enchanted era Pavement as it is to the best work of The Donnas, seamlessly working clanging guitar abrasion into pop gems. Dylan Lockey and Sinclair Riley fill out the rhythm section on drums and bass, respectively, with Lockey’s snap-tight precision guiding the mood and tempo of the record (i.e. highlights such as “3:45”), and Riley’s complex bass work constructing a rich and deeply melodic backbone for Helm and Treadway to build upon. Stranger to the Pain is the kind of record that reintroduces a band whose previous catalog stands assuredly on its own as a new and fresh face- and like a conversation with an old friend, once it’s over, you will want to restart.