It's hard to know what to expect from a Hundred Waters show. Though the band's paid its dues as a powerhouse live act, its most recent album, The Moon Rang Like A Bell, features more drum machines and synth loops than real live instruments. Going into the band's Friday night show, I knew the quartet was full of great musicians, but was I squeezing onto the packed Mississippi Studios floor only to see an hour of enthusiastic knob-twisting?
Well, plenty of dials were turned, but my fears were nonetheless assuaged. The set was structured more or less around playing straight through the new album, and itâs clear that on tour, the band really wants to play as much as possible. Zach Tetreaultâs live drums were a particularly welcome change from the albumâs sleek sound: On songs like the meditative single âMurmurs,â his sparse beats simply offered new textures, but he also let his monstrous technique loose on the setâs loudest song, âSeven White Horses.â
Though The Moon has only been out a few months, the band is already changing things up. â[Animal],â a simmering house track that recalls early Aphex Twin, was turned into a spacey jam, with dancing cymbal patterns from Tetreault. But just like on record, it was the haunting voice of Nicole Miglis that truly stole the set. Sporting a white shawl that made her arms look like wings, she captivated from her early acappella intro to the last notes of the show, even showing off her own instrumental prowess with the occasional classical piano interlude or flute solo.
Miglis made clear that the band was facing some technical difficulties—bassist-producer Trayer Tryon kept fiddling with his laptop, and there were some nasty blasts of feedback. But Miglis sang through the set with a smile, and the few detours that resulted, like the atmospheric piano ballad "Gather" off the band's debut, made it clear that even when the loops fail, Hundred Waters can still conjure up a gorgeous set of music.
All photos by Kathleen Marie.