Dave Hause is the kind of musician who doesn't just believe everything he writes and sings, but positively lives it.
He is his songs, and as the Loved Ones frontman runs through them tonight – with a full band, including The Bouncing Souls’ Pete Steinkopf on guitar (and in a Slayer t-shirt) – you can practically see them inhabit and then vacate his body, sweat pouring down the face, the vein in his temple throbbing with meaning, his eyes reliving all the words his mouth is singing. It’s somewhat incongruous given the setting – tonight’s gig is at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, a trendy weekend night market in ever-hip Greenpoint. There’s food and drink aplenty, market stalls selling arts and crafts, air hockey and arcade machines, and a great deal of people who couldn’t care less that there’s a band playing. Yet even the most disinterested parties must be able to notice the passion coursing through every fibre of Hause’s body. And while the melancholy and vulnerability that permeates his songs – a melancholy clearly inspired by the experience of growing up and growing older, of being in the gutter while still reaching for the stars – is certainly present in his songs tonight, there’s an extra sense of hope and defiance bolstered by the presence of the band. It means the likes of Autism Vaccine Blues, Melanin and We could Be Kings shudder with a tremulous, restless energy, Hause moving from side to side, straining his neck as he reaches into the crowd for an exchange of courage and encouragement.
Time Will Tell and Years From Now are both bruised and battered, world weary, heavy hearted songs that nevertheless refuse to give in, and which shine with an underlying sense of hope. And as voices join his in singing along, you sense the kind of lifeline that these songs have become, both for Hause and his fans. Throughout the last quarter of the set, there’s a member of the audience crying out between each song for him to play C’Mon Kid. When the band finish with a rousing, powerful version of Benediction – a song about friendship and solidarity – the guy is visibly upset and disappointed. That changes instantly when the band return to the stage for the encore and launch straight into the song he’d been calling for. He comes alive, jumping and singing his little heart out, and he’s not the only one. It might be vast (and vastly indifferent) space, but in this small corner there’s a raging fire that refuses to go out.