NEW YORK, October 22 – Based on another recommendation, I went to check out the Seattle-based Grand Hallway at the CMJ Music Marathon. They’re a sizable band with quite a few players including violinists, woodwinds, piano, and others. Playing at the small Rockwood Music Hall, the band squeezed themselves into the corner stage.
Oddly the atmosphere was kind of warm like a family gathering. I was uneasy and felt like a stranger in someone’s house. Tomo Nakayama, the lead vocalist, said that many of the band members were originally from the north-east, and their friends and families were in attendance. I guess it was more of a family reunion than a piano bar concert. I overheard several people gushing over band members as if they were proud parents bragging about their children. Noting their drink orders of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, I have a strong feeling that they aren’t the hard drinking rock and roll types.
According to some of their press, the band has been classified and tagged as chamber pop. Their sound is very layered and multi-textured due to the various instruments interacting. At several points during the performance, there was a real pop orchestral sound. Moreover, Nakayama’s guitar playing had a twangy country folk feel, and the tone of his vocals were very soft. The drumming provided by David Ulrich was also very powerful. His playing style has an infectious rolling rhythm that created an awesome effect. Most of the other band members weaved in-and-out of the songs with graceful ease. They added layers of melody and harmony to very delicate pop compositions.
The highlights of their performance were "Blessed Be, Honey Bee", "Little Sister", and "Sirens".
You can also find more videos of Grand Hallway's performance at the Blog's Youtube Channel.