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Bomb Garden 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Franchise Players


Before they moved to Spokane, Hockey was a really good duo. As of last week, they're a great pop four piece. Bassist Jerm Reynolds and primary songwriter Ben Grubin moved here from L.A., fleeing the inconstant affections of a major-label development deal and looking for a third member in former classmate Joel Smith.





That story ended with Hockey coalescing rather nicely into a full band even as their label, Columbia, dropped them. A new story began on St. Paddy's Day at Empyrean, with the emergence of an absolutely electrifying four-piece live presence. To Reynolds' madcap rhythms and Grubin's charismatic Billy-Joel-meets-Bobby-Dylan pop-folk songistry, Smith had interwoven his pan-continental music tastes while Anthony Stassi provided a solid percussive base. Not only were they solid throughout, the quartet sounded better, fuller, more diverse and more unified than the duo-plus-iPod ever had. Grubin and Reynolds' gamble has already paid off.





Hockey was always thoughtful and danceable, both feats few bands manage. They now add to that an electrifying live presence, a truly rare hat trick. This second Empyrean show, confident and at times virtuosic, was incalculably better than their workmanlike, unsteady debut. The three schoolmates showed an easy rapport onstage that helped the occasional long, knob-fiddling transition pass effortlessly. The crowd responded duly.





Even those not particularly taken with the music seemed engaged by its makers. Hockey has the kind of talent and intelligence to make them an immensely important band. Their sound is accessible enough that they could be immensely popular. If they aren't yet a great band, then, Hockey is at least doing everything they can to get there. Along the way, Grubin and Reynolds have the potential to be huge stars. I personally think they'll become both. They're certainly doing everything right.





Disclosure: Stassi is a former contributor to The Inlander. Backing vocalist/instrumental polymath Joel Smith is one of our staff writers. I've not written about Smith's solo efforts to avoid the reek of professional incest. I cannot, and will not, however, punish Grubin and Reynolds for making good choices in band mates.


Franchise Players


Before they moved to Spokane, Hockey was a really good duo. As of last week, they're a great pop four piece. Bassist Jerm Reynolds and primary songwriter Ben Grubin moved here from L.A., fleeing the inconstant affections of a major-label development deal and looking for a third member in former classmate Joel Smith.


That story ended with Hockey coalescing rather nicely into a full band even as their label, Columbia, dropped them. A new story began on St. Paddy's Day at Empyrean, with the emergence of an absolutely electrifying four-piece live presence. To Reynolds' madcap rhythms and Grubin's charismatic Billy-Joel-meets-Bobby-Dylan pop-folk songistry, Smith had interwoven his pan-continental music tastes while Anthony Stassi provided a solid percussive base. Not only were they solid throughout, the quartet sounded better, fuller, more diverse and more unified than the duo-plus-iPod ever had. Grubin and Reynolds' gamble has already paid off.


Hockey was always thoughtful and danceable, both feats few bands manage. They now add to that an electrifying live presence, a truly rare hat trick. This second Empyrean show, confident and at times virtuosic, was incalculably better than their workmanlike, unsteady debut. The three schoolmates showed an easy rapport onstage that helped the occasional long, knob-fiddling transition pass effortlessly. The crowd responded duly.


Even those not particularly taken with the music seemed engaged by its makers. Hockey has the kind of talent and intelligence to make them an immensely important band. Their sound is accessible enough that they could be immensely popular. If they aren't yet a great band, then, Hockey is at least doing everything they can to get there. Along the way, Grubin and Reynolds have the potential to be huge stars. I personally think they'll become both. They're certainly doing everything right. n





Disclosure: Stassi is a former contributor to The Inlander. Backing vocalist/instrumental polymath Joel Smith is one of our staff writers. I've not written about Smith's solo efforts to avoid the reek of professional incest. I cannot, and will not, however, punish Grubin and Reynolds for making good choices in band mates.
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