Hellogoodbye @ Esplanade Theatre Studio (7:30pm, 07.03.14)

Playing live is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse on an artist’s music; one sometimes forgets which. As for Hellogoodbye, the answer to the question rests largely on how willing you are to listen beyond their high school pop hit ‘Here (In Your Arms)’, how willing you are to put down that shiny gadget and dance, and how loud you chant “one more song!”

Everybody loves a forthcoming frontman. Yet, not everyone has the capacity to turn talk on “that hotel with a boat on it” or trivial lyrics into crowd appeal. Frontman Forrest Kline charms like the antithesis of Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba; the former sings with less sugar, more syrup. He swoons unabashed, untroubled by the zeitgeist’s ventures into attaching more meaning, more complex lyrics to pop music.

Oh, Chelsea Lynn, I watched your hair grow from the root to tip” sounds honest and deeply yearning, and it is at these moments where Hellogoodbye truly achieves what (good) modern pop music is afraid of wanting – simple, heartfelt lyrics. Autotune and synths work their fullest in engaging the audience emotionally, not merely abiding by critics’ checklists. This band skips to the crux, reveling in the disoriented haze that is swirling stupefied love.

Something seems audacious about singing songs not very subtly named ‘When We First Met’ and ‘Thoughts’. No one finds it easy to forgive any ‘artist’ for such blatancy. That being said, big choruses do not need big songs; more aptly put, they make big songs out of the small. Throw in the cheesy, yet ridiculously catchy hook in ‘When We First Kissed’ and you’ll have an audience bouncing on its toes.

‘Here (In Your Arms)’ was played as the band’s fourth-last song and it did make a few wonder openly, “How are they going to play it this well again later?” Performing a hit song at every tour stop, much less, twice a night, tends to take its toll on a band with a rather brief discography. Nevertheless, the rich synth-laden delivery of slightly banal lines should by now be a crowd-pleasing formula well rehearsed by the band. And please the crowd it did.

By Edward E