By Dylan Clay
Beaumont, Texas, my hometown, has been making a lot of lists lately whether being ranked as one of the least educated, most obese, most depressed, most violent small towns, or one of the worst places to raise a family. I don’t know what Forbes or Huffington Post has against Beaumont, and while there may be some truth to these things, I’m glad I grew up there. Fortunately for me, Beaumont had a pretty active and vibrant “Indie” music scene while I was in high school. Some of these local bands included We Are Wombat, We Were Wolves, Purple, The Off Brand, and perhaps the best of all, Hello Chief.
Hello Chief were by far the most popular of the local acts, and for good reason. They offered a sophisticated blend of instrumental prowess and pop sensibility. While their sound was hard to pin point, it definitely drew inspiration from bands such as White Denim and Maps & Atlases, as well as a healthy dose of afro-pop and funky rhythms. While these influences may seem disparate, Hello Chief managed to merge them into a unified sound distinctly their own. They made frequent use of loops and odd time signature changes like the switch to 5/4 in the bridge of “Fly Down the Hatchet” without losing their pop appeal or going into overly proggy territory. I saw them close to a dozen times during high school, and seeing them live is definitely the way to experience this band. During their energetic live shows they seamlessly transitioned between songs, while the crowd responded somewhere in between a dance party and all out mosh pit. Each set usually contained a cover primarily alternating between White Denim’s “Shake Shake Shake” or their crowd favorite version of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets.” They have since broken up, graduated college, and moved into the real world, but they did manage to record some material before they split. Of the two releases on their bandcamp, their EP Pantry Ants captures the subtleties of their sound, and the real gem, Live at Victoria House, comes close to capturing the energy of their live shows.
Supporting local artists is a vital part of being a music fan. All artists have to get their start somewhere. Just take for example some other Beaumont hometown heroes who have gone on to forming successful bands such as Ringo Deathstarr, Parquet Courts, or Sons of Santos.
Check out a section of Hello Chief’s live set at Houston’s Free Press Summer Fest 2013 below. :’)<< Back