Last week I was listening to the radio and shamelessly dancing around my apartment, when the DJ came on to report that Sister Hazel was going to be playing on Sunday night at the Asylum in Portland. I about flipped my lid in excitement; Sister Hazel was literally the soundtrack to my youth. My parents would play their tracks every time we got in the car, and me, my brother, and my sister would all sing along to “All For you” and “Champagne High,” and it never seemed to get old.
My boss (and owner of Dispatch, Super Frank) mentioned that he personally knew Sister Hazel from when he used to own the radio station that debuted their hit single, “All For You.” He invited me to their sound check to meet and hang out with the band before the show; to which I obviously said, yes! SuperFrank and I walked into the Asylum and sat down to watch the best sound check I’d ever been to. The band ripped through a couple songs and I had to hold myself back from clapping; because no one claps at a sound check. Maybe I should make that a thing? After the guys were all tuned up and ready to go, they stepped off stage and I was introduced to Ken Block, lead singer, Ryan Newell, singer/guitarist, Mark Trojanowski, drummer, and Jett Beres, bass guitarist.
Out of all the musicians I have ever met, Sister Hazel were the nicest and most genuine, hands down. We chatted about my mild obsession with them, among other things, and they gladly snapped a few pics with me, high fived me, and went back to their tour bus to chill before the concert. Even though I got a private show from their sound check, I was still super pumped to see them perform a few hours later.
They opened the show with “Shame,” one of their newer jams, and eased into a few oldies like “Happy,” all the while interacting with the crowd and encouraging us to sing along, which I obviously did. Towards the end of the show, the guys paused to amp up the crowd, while I screamed in approval as they played the first few chords of “All For You.” My favorite part of the show was the encore, “Champagne High.” I heard them play part of the song in sound check and I was super excited to hear that it was their closing choice. Ken took a minute to explain what the song meant, which I thought was cool because it was very personal to him, and then dove into it on his acoustic guitar. I will say that I wasn’t sure how the concert was going to be, as I was 15 years old when All For You debuted, but it was the best show I had been to in a while. The songs brought me back to spending my weekends in the car with my family, driving up North to go skiing or hiking, or whatever adventure my Dad was at the helm of. Ken made a point to come out into the crowd after he performed, signed autographs, took pictures, and spent a few minutes chatting with each fan. He also came over to me and thanked me for coming to his sound check, gave me a hug, his set list, and signed it for me. I have yet to have meet a band that genuine and loyal to their fan base as Sister Hazel is, and I would definitely see them again. And again.
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