Hundred Waters is one of those bands that exists somewhere along that margin between genuine experimentalism and soothing pop. At its center is the voice of Nicole Miglis, a vocalists who simultaneously sounds barely there and absolutely vital to the success of Hundred Waters’ music. They are a band of intriguing little contradictions, the most obvious being the fact that their seductive and impressive recent album, The Moon Rang Like A Bell, was released on a label owned by none other than Skrillex himself.
The band’s best material has a kind of alien majesty about it, so the chapel-like surroundings of the Center For The Arts in Eagle Rock were a perfect vessel for these songs (as an aside, it was my first visit to the venue and it’s a fantastic place for smaller shows). Despite starting later than advertised, there was nary a hiccup in sight as Miglis got things going with a solo rendition of “Show Me Love” before the show kicked into gear with the glorious “Murmurs.”
That song in particular showcases what makes Hundred Waters so appealing. Their music features some truly unusual production flourishes and details, but they add up to a song that is graced with a touch of beauty. Hints of Bjork can be found in the approach (she was so far ahead of the curve that most bands still sound forward-thinking even when they’re just catching up to her), but the rhythm section also exhibits a muscularity that prevents these songs from just evaporating into the ether.
Fans were also treated to a specialized light show for the set, and the cumulative effect was a silencing of the audience so that the more stripped-down moments of the set featured an eerie and moving quiet. Perhaps inevitably, those moments highlight an unexpected strength in Miglis’s voice, not to mention the fact that they bring attention to her dexterous piano playing. The evening had a sense of theater to it, and a lot of thought seemed to have been put into making this a proper show. This attention to detail and understanding of how to flesh out their songs’ qualities can only serve Hundred Waters well in the long run.
There were moments during the show, as there are on the album, when the audiences’ attention strayed slightly as the band followed the music down little tangents that did not quite head anywhere, but considering Hundred Waters’ success rate, it’s easy to forgive minor indulgences. They are also capable of a certain amount of thunder in their climaxes, as proved during the pulse-racing conclusion to “Seven White Horses.”
In the end, Hundred Waters emerged from the show as one of those bands you want to press on people, so consider this review as my pitch. They are going to be quite a few people’s favorite new band. Maybe they’ll be yours.
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