IF YOU GO
What: Aliver Hall,
Robbery and Trevor
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Lemon Grove, 122 W. Federal St., Youngstown
Tickets: $3; call 330-744-7683
By John Benson
There’s a moment in the 2000 Phish documentary “Bittersweet Motel” where a fan is asked why he likes the jam band. The person’s response is, “Their music is full of freedom, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
In a nutshell, that mind-set is what drives relatively new Akron-based band Aliver Hall — Alex Hall (guitar, vocals), Jim Tauscher (guitar, vocals), Matt “Bones” Johnson (drums) and Spencer Cutlip (bass) — on its recently released debut, “Welcome to Aliver Hall.”
“The CD has been received really well,” said Cincinnati native Hall, who now calls Stow home.
“Generally, the impression we get is people are more impressed than they expected to be before they actually listened to the thing. It’s one of those things, too, where we’ve got people coming to the show and singing along with the songs, so they’re clearly listening to it, which is really nice for us because we put a lot of hard work into writing and recording the thing, not to mention money.
“It’s kind of a concept album, about 35 minutes long, and it consists of a few songs that I wrote both with the current lineup and a couple I wrote before the band was together. Separated by segues, the songs come together in a kind of concept format. Thematically, all of these songs do work together. It’s essentially, drugs are a metaphor for escapism and trying to tell people that there’s hope in this world in spite of what they may have previously thought.”
Emanating from a jam-band aesthetic, Aliver Hall has received plenty of familiar comparisons from its new CD.
There’s the obligatory Grateful Dead and aforementioned Phish, as well as being lumped into the progressive side of the genre alongside, say, Umphrey’s McGee.
The group even has received a rock description, which draws comparisons to names such as moe and My Morning Jacket.
Hall said some of his favorite new tracks include the energetic and driving “Caged” and the gritty “Smiling Backwards.”
“One of the things I hear a lot is we sound like us,” Hall said. “Part of the reason we’ve done as well as we have this far along is people sort of respect we have our own sound. They see us as a band with its own sound, not trying to be something else, even if we are admittedly interested in jam-band music to a certain extent.”
Local music fans will get to decide for themselves when Aliver Hall makes its Youngstown debut Saturday at the Lemon Grove.
“Youngstown is one of those places where a lot of people come from there and see us play when we’re at the Beachland or when we had our CD-release show in Akron,” Hall said. “It’s kind of like we want to bring us to them instead of having to bring them to us.”
Actually, one of those people who saw the band in Cleveland is responsible for the upcoming Lemon Grove show.
“I was able to catch Aliver Hall at a show at the Beachland Ballroom, and they blew the crowd away,” said ruKusradio.com Promotions and Productions Director Jack Bradway. “They have a bluesy rock sound that really gets people moving.”
Bradway said booking Aliver Hall now is a way to get the market familiar with the band, which will return this fall as part of the ruKus fest lineup.
Hall believes the upcoming Youngstown show will find his group making a good first impression with the locals.
“It’s very intense,” Hall said. “I don’t mean to beat my own drum here, but people tend to be mesmerized while I play the lengthy guitar solos. And there are solos for everybody in the band. I think it’s just that we’re one of those bands that you don’t go get a beer during the set. You stand right there; you jump around, and you just get into it because it’s loud and fun and uplifting. “