Show Lineup: Commoner, Droll, Hotline TNT
Genre(s): Shoegaze, Noise Rock, Indie Rock
Venue: Club Congress
Date: December 3rd, 2023
Searing guitar riffs and dense walls of sound ran through the tightly packed Club Congress this past Sunday as I had the absolute pleasure of seeing one of my favorite bands of the last few years, Hotline TNT (as well as two fantastic openers!) Learning from my previous mistakes, I brought along earplugs for myself as well as some extra for those around me (previously after seeing this band and standing by the monitors I couldn't hear out of my left ear for 3 days). Pictured below left is Commoner, right is Droll.
The first band, Commoner, opened the crowd up into a nice groove, imploring them to come a little bit closer and dance (something I'm never opposed to). I liked their seemingly Nu-Metal riffs and methodical vocals. Droll, a band I was informed had a lot of activity here in Tucson prior to the pandemic and is just now getting back into playing live, went on next. I was absolutely blown away by these guys, their unique blend of grungy alt rock and catchy power pop riffs tuning my ears directly towards what they were throwing at the audience. I especially liked their closer "Immolator", where each band member got a line or two to shine before launching into a dense and noisy outro.
Finally, Will Anderson and the rest of the rotating cast that compromises Hotline TNT took the stage, asked the audience to move up a little, and launched into "Protocol", the opening track on their fantastic new album, Cartwheel (which I did a review for in full a couple weeks ago, accessible from my profile). What followed were a few more tracks from Cartwheel, all of which just sounded better fleshed out in a live setting, especially "I Thought You'd Change". The drummer began a bit of a solo before the rest of the band joined in on "Trinity", off of my personal favorite Hotline TNT project, Fireman's Carry. Something must have possessed me for these next few songs, because not only do I have no videos of them, the only thing I remember is dancing like an idiot and looking up to the stage to realize that yeah, live music is really one of the key things that keeps me going. The band was impeccably tight, all playing off each other with incredible, energetic performances. "Trinity" led right into the fantastic "Are U Faded?", the song that got me through the back half of my senior year of high school. Needless to say, I kept dancing like a complete fool. Near the end of the song, Will began signaling to play the outro riff one more time. Much to my pleasure, he signaled a need for this repetition seven or eight times, and I kept going nuts for one of my favorite guitar riffs ever. I collapsed on the barricade in exhaustion as they began to play "Antonio", another great track from an early EP. When they followed that with "History Channel", my favorite Shoegaze track of the year, I felt there was no way this concert could get any better. They immediately smashed this expectation by throwing "Lawyers in Love" into the middle of this track, my personal favorite track off of their 2019 EP "Go Around Me". Again, I kept going nuts as the band played on. Finally, they closed with their hit "Had 2 Try", with an intro that I would say almost borders on drone music before launching into the loudest riff of any track played that night. Here's a shaky handheld video of that intro.
As they headed off, I got to talk to Will about how his band served to connect me to my friends all in different states, as well as pick up copies of their new record Cartwheel, the 2021 debut LP Nineteen In Love, and a 7" of 2022's When You Find Out. In addition, I picked up a copy of "Association Update", a monthly zine Will runs in addition to his involvement with the band. While I would love to someday see a hour or so long headlining Hotline TNT show that covers more of their fantastic material, with their grueling tour schedule I get how that isn't always possible. Though I would have loved to see "Calling Out 2 U", "Tie-Dye" or "Never Anyone But U", I love the reality that no matter where I am in the world, I'm never too far from Hotline TNT rolling to town soon.
Reviewer Name: Micah Dalton
Date of Review: December 5th, 2023