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ISSUE 119 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/4/2005

Hopefuls bring danceable tunes to too-small crowd

By Stephanie Soucheray
Variety Editor


Friday, November 4, 2005

Once again, Minneapolis pop-rockers The Hopefuls (formerly The Olympic Hopefuls), played one of the best concerts Friday St. Olaf students could get for free. And, in a repeat of last year’s show, not nearly enough students attended.

The Hopefuls were still attired in their navy blue and white track suits, even after the International Olympic Committee threatened a lawsuit against the band this summer unless they removed the trademarked “Olympic” from their moniker. The Hopefuls played the Pause with the energy of stadium rockers.

With power chords, sunny harmonies and keytar riffs aplenty, The Hopefuls’ brand of pop found the few Oles present clapping their hands and dancing with the band’s mascot, “Rupert,” in a festive pre-Halloween show.

Perhaps Oles are in a pop music malaise. Meager attendance at The Bravery’s concert and a mere 100 students at The Hopefuls point to a decline in interest in rocking on the Hill.

Maybe the Bravery did not deserve St. Olaf students’ attention, but no music fan would have been disappointed in The Hopefuls’ show.

The opening band, White Light Riot, winners of the Quest’s 2004 Battle of the Bands, played songs off their debut EP The Dark is Light Enough. Erik Appelwick, co-founder of The Hopefuls, produced their album and was in the audience for the band’s opening set.

“I think their sound is really unique,” said Appelwick, who was standoffish as he nervously appraised the performance of his pet project. White Light Riot’s spunky piano and minor chord songs were more proof of how “vibrant” the Twin Cities music scene is, Appelwik said.

The Hopefuls’ show drew heavily from their 2004 album, The Fuses Refuse to Burn. “Shy,” “Holiday” and “Motobike” were crowd favorites.

Tight drumrolls and “lala” choruses characterize the perky sound of The Hopefuls, who know how to sugarcoat their sometimes plaintive lyrics with tongues firmly planted in cheeks. The end result is little three-minute pop heavens.

The band chugged water like marathoners as they sprinted through each song, switching lead vocals between Appelwick, also of Vicious Vicious, and Kid Dakota’s Darren Jackson. But the best moments came when John Hermanson, player of keytars and frenetic tambourines, took over the mike in his Prince-meets-Spoon falsetto.

“Pretty Bigmouth” and “Drain the Sea” saw the overhead hand-clapping of students at its peak, as The Hopefuls channeled a less-sterile version of The Cars.

The Hopefuls wisely employ a suit-and-sweatband-wearing dancer, whom Appelwik referred to as “Rupert,” to dance wildly on stage and weave through the crowd with robot-like moves that epitomize The Hopefuls’ loveable self-aware irony. They embrace their own goofiness.

The set’s highlight was its last few songs. The Hopefuls ripped into a fast and slightly jarring version of their radio hit, “Let’s Go” (featured on an episode of “The O.C.” last year.)

Rupert had the crowd reeling in chants of “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” and those Oles wise enough to attend left energized after a night full of danceable fun.





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