AVENUE

Live review – Hammer No More The Fingers

By Brian Tucker

(originally published in Performer magazine)

April 12, 2008 – Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern – Wilmington, N.C.

HNMTF-color

Duncan Webster, Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern, April 2008, photo Brian Tucker

Here’s what it feels like at a Hammer No More The Fingers show. It’s like going to a party with live music your older brother knows about and your brother happens to be in the band. You have the best time. The Durham trio delivered a pretension free, excitingly good time at a recent local show and made people on the floor dance and jump to their insanely infectious music.

The band – Duncan Webster (bass, vocals), Jeff Stickley (drums) and Joe Hall (guitar, vocals) returned to Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern, a place that has become a home away from home for the band in Wilmington. They took to the floor-level stage ever so politely, got comfortable, and then lined up close at the microphones to shotgun beers, looking like vampires tearing apart aluminum with minute smiles. Jeff’s drum set was placed left of stage instead of in the rear which would ultimately allow for more interaction. A few songs into the set he put on sunglasses for no apparent reason.

“Doesn’t he look like Andrew McArthy?” Duncan asks. Girls in the crowd whistled.

The set was comprised of new, unfamiliar material, songs like “Poison Apple,” “Shutterbug,” “Burning My Eyes Out” and “Automobiles.” The new material was bereft of the bounce that dominated familiar songs but was pleasantly replaced by drawn-out grooves, hinting at a newer direction. To some extent it was more serious in tone but shows the trio stretching out their sound into something larger.

It also found HNMTF more cautious, playing songs that were still only newborns. Duncan began “Shutterbug” by saying, “this is a new one, we’ve only played it a few times.” It was played delicately, curious given the song’s power, but interesting to see and hear a song learning to walk, and seemingly being refined. Also notable was Joe and Duncan looked down more at their instruments than outward, and standing still more than usual, out of place for this energetic group as they performed newer material.

That all changed as HNMTF turned to older songs. Explosions erupted in their feet and the crowd reacted equally. The college girls danced in place, swinging their heads. They went nuts when they played “O.R.G.Y.” and “Mushrooms.” The set ended with chaos and Reggie’s owner Matt Hearn stepped in to hold a cymbal stand in place for Jeff to play.

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