Huddled around their laptop and centered on vocalist Forrest Klein, Hellogoodbye took part in an unusual pre-show ritual, continuing to shout a particular phrase over and over at their webcam.
“Show us your dick!” they yelled jokingly at unsuspecting users of the chatroulette.com Web site, as the power-poppers linked up with poor soul after poor soul who was instructed to disrobe for the band. Needless to say, Hellogoodbye’s kooky demeanor was both hilarious and disconcerting as a first impression, but it quickly became clear that it was all in good fun, much like the band’s spunky music.
The band would later discuss this pastime, as well as its affinity for “The Jersey Shore,” on the Kendall Hall main stage in between upbeat tunes and ukulele/mandolin-based ballads.
Modeling themselves after Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, the members explained that their new names, determined and administered backstage, would be “The Scenario,” “The Context,” “The Reason,” “The Consequence,” and “The Christian,” to the laughter of the audience.
In spite of its onstage antics, the band’s hour-long set brought the Kendall crowd through a combination of Hellogoodbye staples such as “Shimmy Shimmy Quarter Turn,” “Oh, It is Love,” and “Touchdown Turnaround,” as well as a handful of new tracks set to appear on a new album, which is expected to drop sometime in the summer, according to Klein and keyboardist Joe Marra.
In addition to new music, Hellogoodbye recently covered and recorded several tracks including songs by The Beatles, as well as “early ’90s emo and mid-’80s punk” tunes, downloadable for free at hellogoodbye.net/covers.
“We are currently in a legal battle with our record company so in the meantime we were recording some covers since we couldn’t put out our own music,” Klein said.
Much like every band that plays Kendall Hall, the band commented on the awkward presence of the auditorium seating and its lack of availability for movement.
“It’s like the Oscars!” Klein remarked during the set.
Marra also commented on the venue before the show.
“The difference with the college shows from other shows is that there will be like, 500 people like normal, but they’re in a room that hold like 20,000, like a basketball court, and there’s seating too. But (Kendall Hall) is like, average sized for us,” Marra said.
Hellogoodbye closed its set with what is likely its most popular track, “Here (In Your Arms),” to the roar of a crowd singing along to the catchy melody.
“I know this story is getting written after the show, so I’m just saying this now,” Klein said before the show. “I hope it went well and everybody liked it.”
Hellogoodbye will begin a nationwide tour, including stops in Sayreville and Atlantic City, with New Found Glory and Saves the Day beginning Jan. 29.
New Jersey native and former The Early November vocalist Ace Enders opened for Hellogoodbye with a far more mellow approach. Grouped with his current project, I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business, Enders was joined on stage by a keyboardist and light-tapping drummer who were not entirely necessary during Enders’ minimalist set. Enders’ vocals were undoubtedly powerful and clear, but the drawn-out style of his songs did not exactly fit with the upbeat flow of the night and students were visibly restless by the end of his set.
Former College Rathskeller performers Jet Lag Gemini opened the night with an under-appreciated, upbeat set. Just as with the Ace Enders performance, students stayed in their seats, texting and whispering to friends while the JLG guitarist hopped up on boxes placed at the front of the stage for each song’s textbook and somewhat forced solo.