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Hop Along brought their new album to life at a homecoming show (review)

Hop Along
Hop Along at Union Transfer – 5/19/18 (photo via Becca Green)

Philly’s Hop Along are on tour now supporting their excellent new album Bark Your Head Off, Dog, and they played a sold-out hometown show at Union Transfer this past Saturday (5/19). It was the largest crowd I’d ever seen them headline for, and they were clearly amazed it was even happening (band members kept making comments like “how is this real?”), but they had no trouble handling the large room like stars. And the crowd ate up every second of it — people were cheering before, after, and during most songs. Hop Along have had passionate fans at every show since they were regularly playing as openers, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they still do, but that fan passion is even greater at a headlining show on their home turf.

Like they’ve done at many shows over the years, singer Frances Quinlan started the show alone on stage, this time playing “How You Got Your Limp” from the new album, and then the rest of Hop Along (including current live member Chrissy Tashjian of Thin Lips) joined her and they went into the new album’s opening track/lead single “How Simple.” From there, they continued to play all nine songs off the new album, mixed in with a few older faves, and the set never lulled. It’s always a treat to hear Get Disowned highlights like “Kids on the Boardwalk” and “Tibetan Pop Stars,” both of which had the band in fine form on Saturday, but the Bark Your Head Off, Dog-heavy setlist is such a better representation of how far Hop Along have come than a set focused on older songs would be.

The new album’s got more diversity and more ambitious arrangements than anything Hop Along had done prior, and it all comes across in a live setting with their expanded live lineup (which at one point also included tambourine by Kyle Pulley, who engineered the new album with Hop Along guitarist Joe Reinhart, and who plays in Thin Lips with Chrissy). Songs like “How Simple,” “The Fox In Motion” and “One That Suits Me” have instantly become crowd singalongs on the level of the Get Disowned/Painted Shut standouts, while intricacies like the egg shaker-aided, Radiohead-style percussion of “What the Writer Meant” and the alt-country twang-turns-noisy freakout-turns-pop song of “Not Abel” showed a new side of Hop Along. The band flew through all of these various left-turns and curveballs, and the set ended before I knew it. I could’ve watched them go for another hour and I’d be willing to bet that most people in the room would agree.

Philly’s Love City Brewing also just introduced the new “Hop Along IPA” and drummer Mark Quinlan was drinking one on stage at Union Transfer and talked about how he grew up as childhood friends with Love City Brewing founder Kevin Walter.

Hop Along have a few days off, and then their tour picks back up again in NYC on May 30 at Brooklyn Steel with Saintseneca and Bat Fangs opening (tickets). That’s their last show on this tour with Saintseneca, and Bat Fangs will join them through late June. In late July, they begin another leg of dates with Thin Lips opening. Hop Along then return to NYC for Pitchfork’s OctFest on Governors Island in September. They play day two, with The Flaming Lips, Nile Rodgers & CHIC, Yo La Tengo, No Age, and more TBA (tickets).

UPDATE: After the North American tour ends, Hop Along will head to Europe for a run opening for The Decemberists. All dates are listed below.

A couple videos and the setlist from the Union Transfer show are below:

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Hop Along at Union Transfer – 5/19/18 Setlist (via)
How You Got Your Limp (Frances solo)
How Simple
Kids on the Boardwalk
Horseshoe Crabs
Somewhere a Judge
The Fox in Motion
Texas Funeral
What the Writer Meant
Not Abel
One That Suits Me
Look of Love
Prior Things

Encore:
Well-dressed
The Knock
Tibetan Pop Stars

5/30: Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel #
6/1: Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall #
6/2: Montreal, QC @ Le Belmont #
6/3: South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground #
6/5: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club #
6/6: Pittsburgh, PA @ Spirit #
6/8: Toronto, ON @The Legendary Horseshoe Tavern #
6/9: Ferndale, MI @ The Loving Touch #
6/10: Chicago, IL @ Metro #
6/12: Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall #
6/13: St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club #
6/16: Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room #
6/18: Dallas, TX @ Club Dada #
6/19: Austin, TX @ Barracuda #
6/20: Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall #
6/22: St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall
6/23: Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar @
7/28: Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern Music Hall ^
7/29: Cincinnati, OH @ Ballroom at the Taft Theatre ^
7/31: Columbia, MO @ Rose Music Hall ^
8/1: Norman, OK @ Opolis ^
8/3: Santa Fe, NM @ Meow Wolf ^
8/4: Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom ^
8/5: San Diego, CA @ Irenic ^
8/6: Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom ^
8/8: San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall ^
8/9: Chico, CA @ The Big Room at Sierra Nevada ^
8/10: Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom ^
8/12: Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s ^
8/14: Boise, ID @ Neurolux ^
8/16: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge ^
8/17: Denver, CO @ Velorama Festival
8/18: Omaha, NE @ Maha Festival
8/20: Des Moines, IA @ Wooly’s ^
8/21: Grand Rapids, MI @ Pyramid Scheme ^
9/9: New York, NY @ Pitchfork Octfest
11/4: Dublin, Ireland @ Vicar Street %
11/5: Glasgow, UK @ O2 Academy %
11/7: London, UK @ Eventim Apollo %
11/8: Bristol, UK @ O2 Academy 1 %
11/10: Leeds, UK @ O2 Academy %
11/11: Nottingham, UK @ Rock City %
11/12: Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall %
11/14: Uthrecht, Netherlands @ Grote Zaal TivRe %
11/15: Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Paradiso %
11/16: Berlin, Germany @ Asstra %

* = Saintseneca supporting
# = Bat Fangs supporting
@ = Ratboys supporting
^ = Thin Lips supporting
% = supporting The Decemberists

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