Say Hi has shortened more than their band name over time. The band’s lineup itself has also mutated to the point where their latest release on Barsuk, Ohhs & Ahhs, was recorded entirely by Eric Elbogen, the man behind the band, at his home studio. A dark album with heavy hues of loneliness the album displays half-hearted attempts at cheering itself up, making its lasting impression a sincere one.
Perhaps this is why I was surprised when, trying not to slip on the slimy grass in front of the Broad Street stage at Bumbershoot on Monday, I walked up to what sounded like emo-pop. It seems fair to look at the progression of Say Hi To Your Mom to Say Hi in relation to the increasing maturity of both their sound and their name. But as they began to play “Dramatic Irony” it became clear that without the production value of their recordings, the songs became more upbeat. The song was still dark, due to it’s content, but the overwhelming sound was light-hearted.
During a lull in the tunes, Eric offered a reason for some of the faltering harmonies and over all mood change, mentioning that the house bassist of Barsuk, Andy, was playing his second show ever with Say Hi. The two worked well together, well enough for Andy to bust Eric’s chops over the change in the band name to the chagrin of Eric. But even more explanation for the strange feeling of this show was the fact that Eric had a cold.
Overall as a live performance, the trio on stage was lack-luster. I had gone to see their set because I couldn’t imagine a better band to see on an outdoor stage during a day full drizzles. But the performance failed to cultivate the grey melancholy I was so willing to experience with the sweet, yet morose songs of Say Hi. Still, this performance did open another side to the band, one that isn’t quite appealing to me, but something that I’m sure many people have always cherished. This is the more pop aspect of Eric Elbogen’s songs, the part of their sound that is unashamed of being straightforwardly sentimental rather than cryptically depressed.