Kitchener’s Hinindar takes the stage at The Artery


Stepping into the dim, rather bare looking art gallery The Artery for a folk rock show is like stepping into a hipster’s paradise.

Hinindar, a local folk-rock band, took the stage for its CD debut, with Toronto’s Kite Hill opening and Bocce closing the show. The cozy venue was packed with fans on Mar. 31 and Hinindar delivered a worthy show.

Kite Hill, a drum, wind and string band, started the show with strong vocals and piano, relying on clear, ringing tones that evoke a sense of calmness. Ryan Carly joked lightly, setting a comfortable tone.

Hinindar played next and worked through the EP’s song list in progression, beginning with the CD’s title song, “Absalom.” Steve Sloane, the lead singer, songwriter, and guitarist, moved effortlessly through the album’s blend of quiet whispers and loud calls. Steph Yates complemented Sloane’s skilled guitar playing with hollowly-sweet back-up vocals and Jeff Woods completed the band’s sound with all of the other instruments.

Hinindar’s sound is a fusion of folk, country and bluesy guitar, with complex, unyielding lyrics that hint of isolation and loss. The sound is a sort of post-modern folk that relies heavily on old country, but blends electric guitar, keyboard and xylophone for a uniquely haunting, modern tone.

The band’s performance was polished and Sloane’s vocals seamlessly flowed from quiet, breathy tones into howling crescendos. “Hard Love II,” the third song in the set, was especially well done; perfectly balancing the band’s fusion of quiet and loud, with strong lyrics that sent the listener into thoughtful reflection. But the strongest song of the set was the last song, “Sheila,” in which Sloane’s vocals perfectly embodied the song’s sense of discontent and longing.

In previous shows Hinindar’s stage presence has been light and cheerful, with the members throwing in the occasional subtle joke to appease the crowd; yet Hinindar’s interaction with the crowd last Saturday was limited and rather staid. Despite the band’s generally solemn manner, Sloane did get a few chuckles and graciously thanked the album’s contributors between songs.

Bocce finished the show in an odd twist of genres. The band’s eclectic mix of video, electronic and instrumental music was energetically and skillfully delivered; but seemed out of place after Hinindar and Kite Hill’s more relaxed and serious notes.

Hinindar’s first CD shows an unusually high level of sophistication and complexity that passes the test of multiple listens, and the band’s live performance delivers the album’s layers and quality. Absalom might just be the push that Hinindar needs to shift from hometown gem to the big stage.

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