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Review: Robert DeLong, Coleman Hell play at HiFi for a stellar performance



Robert DeLong and Coleman Hell played a stellar show that allowed for stadium-rock charisma within HiFi Music Hall on a rainy Monday night on Nov. 24.

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Canadian musician Coleman Hell serenades the audience with his soulful voice Photo credit: Meerah Powell

Canadian musician Coleman Hell started the night with several cuts from his self-titled EP. What can probably best be described as “folktronica”, Hell finished his set confidently, as he played his mega-alternative, folk-pop-rock hit “2 Heads.”

After his set, Hell discreetly met with fans near the merchandise table, being from a small town in Canada, he mentioned how exciting it was to see the United States to such an extensive degree.

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Multi-instrumentalist DeLong plays drums during a song Photo credit: Meerah Powell

The audience, of all ages, surprisingly, was comprised of high schoolers out late on a Monday night mixed with older Baby Boomers with their elementary school aged kids in tow. College students, it seemed, were of the less-represented demographics. Despite the age range, they were united in their collective facial paint decorations that mimicked DeLong’s signature orange lightning streaks; thanks to a couple of stagehands that painted faces for free before the set.

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Robert DeLong sings passionately as his own image is broadcasted behind him live Photo credit: Meerah Powell

Robert DeLong was introduced to the stage by a firestorm of disjointed graphics and ironic internet iconography that flashed across a large custom LED screen. The screen sat behind an array of various instruments, both classical and unorthodox. Everything from a couple drum kits, guitars, and keyboards; to maracas, soundboards, and even a Wii remote straight from 2009 that was wired to alter DeLong’s voice and chords. Further, to set the tone, Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” created a strong (if not jarring) presence and blatant ambiance that was impossible to ignore.

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DeLong's stage setup consists of various synthesizers, drum machines and two drum sets Photo credit: Meerah Powell

In a sense, the set was a mix between an EDM show and a stadium rock concert. There were plenty of deep house tracks, but they were riddled with extensive drum and guitar solos. The audience was mesmerized by DeLong’s flair and multi-talent. He constantly changed the pace and tone, keeping the crowd on their toes and wanting more.

Because frankly, DeLong isn’t just a musician; he’s a performance artist. As a one-man show, he ran back and forth between drum sets and keyboards, altering his voice and the chords with frequency and use of his integral Wii remote.

Some of his stellar performances came from his better known hits, including his latest single “Don’t Wait Up” and older cuts including “Long Way Down”. Both have received heavy airplay on the local alternative radio station, and the crowd vibed strongly to the heavier alt-rock tracks.

It’s always great to see artists interact with their fans, and after the show Hell and DeLong milled around the venue to take pictures and talk to eager fans. Down-to-earth and soaking in the moment, the pair complemented each other perfectly.

Listen to Robert DeLong’s “Don’t Wait Up” below.


Follow Shelby Chapman on Twitter @ShelbyEm15

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Shelby Chapman

Shelby Chapman