When a band walks on stage, introduces themselves, and then adds, “and we’re hungover today,” you know the show is going to be good. Ballyhoo! could quite possibly top my list of my favorite live acts. So many factors led to this discovery. Maybe it was lead singer, Howi Spangler’s appropriately worn Bob Marley shirt on the House of Marley stage, maybe it was the most friendly circle pit that ever existed during their set, or maybe it’s because Ballyhoo! are just simply amazing performers live. It could’ve been so many things that made me come to this realization. There were so many things done right during Ballyhoo’s set. All the things a great performer should do, Ballyhoo! did.
Ballyhoo! have such a strong and engaging stage presence. Anybody watching could see that they were having the time of their lives on stage. Constantly smiling during their set, it became such a positive atmosphere. People in the crowd were dancing like there was no tomorrow. The people in the circle pit were so friendly and cordial to each other, a bizarre scene to witness. Especially that the circle pit had such a diverse group of people, spanning from teenage boys to fathers whose children waited for them outside the pit to girls who weren’t afraid of all the male bravado in there.
“Who remembers me falling off the fucking stage? -Howi”
Before a song, Howi would give a quick description of the song like “this song is about two people who can’t keep their shit together” or “about drinking and smoking weed with your best friends.” After each of these little descriptions, laughter could be heard all around me. There was enjoyment on both the crowd and Ballyhoo!’s part. Joy could be seen on each member of Ballyhoo. Each member was always smiling at their crowd. Howi Spangler’s vocal ability was impressive, never faltering, never out of tune. Blaze would step out from behind his keyboard and laptop to rile up the crowd which always brought on cheers.
Ballyhoo!’s set was consistent all the way through. They started off strong with such charisma and comedic comments. And they were able to stay strong all throughout their set. There wasn’t one moment when any of the crowd’s attention was off from Ballyhoo. Perhaps only one: when this man next to me asked for Ballyhoo!’s name, writing it down in his notepad, surely to look them up afterwards. Despite this one positive moment, all eyes were on Ballyhoo and all those eyes were glued on for the entire set. As Howi sang, “we’ve seen better days,” all I could think of was that this performance would be one of my better days.
We interviewed Ballyhoo!’s Howi also, which you can see here: http://hopelessthunder.org/2012/07/23/interview-ballyhoo
Ballyhoo! is Howi Spangler, Donald Spangler (Big D), Scott Vandrey (Blaze), JR Gregory (Mista J).
Setlist: (incomplete & possibly out of order)