(Originally written for relix.com1)
Hacienda Give Highline Ballroom Shakedown
New York, NY
As Hacienda started into their final song Saturday night, a jolt of feedback blared through the Highline Ballroom, the last in a series of technical difficulties the band experienced throughout their performance. “Thank you,” lead vocalist/bassist Rene Villanueva joked, leading a faux walk-off before going ahead with set closer “Don’t Keep Me Waiting.”
To be sure, the band’s good nature was on full display Saturday evening as they managed a solid show despite a handful of auditory miscues and a less-than rock-and-roll showtime of 7:00 p.m. Even headliner Dixie Spirit seemed put off by what they commented on as an early performance, over an hour after Hacienda took their leave.
But in adopting the motto “better early than never,” neither band let the still-fading sunlight affect their performances one bit. Hacienda’s show consisted entirely of songs from the band’s new album Shakedown (out now via Collective Sounds) which came off more as a show of faith in the work they’ve done since 2010’s Big Red and Barbacoa than a gamble, especially considering the band has yet to register the sort of true radio hit that has crowds grumbling over any new material performed at a live show.
But that could change with Shakedown. Thanks in part to recently prolific producer and Black Key Dan Auerbach, the new album’s no-chaser blues/rock is both undeniably appealing and just in time—not only for the summer, but also for the genre’s recent swell of popularity, thanks in no small part to the Keys themselves. Shakedown tracks like “Let Me Go” and “Savage” radiated an energy Saturday night that had the largely Dixie Spirit-geared crowd bobbing their heads and clapping along, effectively meeting the band halfway. Introducing the somewhat sobering track “Doomsday,” guitarist Dante Schwebel conceded, “It’s a dark song,” but as if their performer/audience relationship was based solely on the band’s otherwise effusive energy, added quickly “by a positive band.”
Based on their performance and stage-side manner, I couldn’t disagree. Considering how effortlessly these relative unknowns managed to win over the crowd at the Highline on Saturday, Hacienda seem poised to convert anyone in want of a good, old-fashioned rock show in their future.