Review of the band Hydrogen Skyline @ The Loft 4/27/12

Colorado Springs – I arrived fashionably late to the show, but was able to catch most of the set. Full disclosure: I thought The Loft would have a full bar — they don’t. The members of the Colorado Springs band Hydrogen Skyline selected The Loft as a venue to launch a new album, “echoes in retrospect.” For those of you unfamiliar with the Colorado Springs music scene The Loft Music Venue is an interesting and intimate venue located just off Colorado Avenue in Old Colorado City. The facility is setup to host small weddings, theater productions, and concerts. This evening the facility manager at The Loft had setup a full stage. When I showed up the band was playing to a crowd of about 85 people. A few minutes after the set completed the band still had a respectable crowd of about 45 people. The rest of this review is powered (fueled) by Five Hour Energy… no really; in fact it is. 

Hydrogen Skyline Album Cover
Hydrogen Skyline Album Cover

Let me put on my reporter hat for a minute. I have to report that local music is alive and well in Colorado Springs. That is good news right? Who does not love the distant sound of a band playing as you approach a venue? It’s both inviting and invigorating. Everybody walking around Colorado Avenue got to hear a little bit of the show. Small venue concerts are personal by nature and the forum allows a community of interest to form and dissipate based on a shared interest in celebrating the value of the music as a group. Most of the people in the crowd knew what they were getting into, but a few of them had to be pleasantly surprised. Don’t underestimate the power of crowds to bring people together. Outside of the relative safety of a fan driven community, a pretty harsh reality of exclusion and market overcrowding exists for new bands trying to build a fan base. The harsh realities certainly include the digital and socially networked publishing industry. Let’s face it making a dent in the music universe is harder than ever. Band members and fans have to figure out increasingly innovative ways to disseminate music. While almost every barrier to publishing music vanished with the dawn of the digital age modern bands face an increasingly overcrowded and competitive talent pool. Hydrogen Skyline as a band is being promoted through a wide variety of social media. Additionally, the new Hydrogen Skyline album looks professional (it has a barcode) and sounds reasonably well mixed.

Pardon me for a moment while I reminisce (basically intellectually digress) about hearing and seeing Free Dominguez the lead singer of the Kidneythieves perform for the first time back in 2002 (the Zerospace album days). Much like Free did years before, tonight Ashleigh reminded me why performance art matters. Beyond the composition of song a performer has the capacity to enrich a live performance by engaging an audience. Outside of the personal aspects of artists engaging with fans the music industry itself is only an echo of the beloved simulacrum of decades past. Local music evolves and grows. The music industry chases genres based on business models and sales projections based on a model that rarely yields to evaluation and growth. Social media mixed with digital distribution systems allow bands to bring content to market without any market restrictions. If you are trying to experience local music, then the opportunity exists to experience new music every day.

Hydrogen Skyline Ashleigh
Hydrogen Skyline Ashleigh

General Review – The band’s bassist Chris Mills introduced a degree of avant-garde performance by wondering the crowd during the songs almost oblivious to concert, but still actively a part of the songs. A real bright spot in the show, Chris certainly has the skill to allow a baseline to transcend being filler or an afterthought. As an artist, Ashleigh has started to bring together a diverse set of vocal skills to build rich and somewhat haunting vocals. I’m curious to see where the band takes the next album. Without any real pop hooks or memorable choruses the album holds up to a direct spin from start to finish. I’m willing to bet with some additional experience the band’s songwriters will certainly incorporate a few more melodic layers and develop some signature musical traditions. The future of Hydrogen Skyline could be very interesting… After the show Ashleigh asked me, “Did you like it?” I slyly responded, “It was good, but I enjoy industrial rock…” Count me in; I’m going to make a point of attending another Hydrogen Skyline show.

Band: Hydrogen Skyline
Album: echoes in retrospect
Performance: 4/27/12
Venue: The Loft, Colorado Springs, CO