Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Concert: Hum and Failure

Post by Michael...

A few months ago I was sitting at my desk at work when I got an email (from that said that the band Failure would be going on tour and that Hum would be going with them for part of that tour. I'm not joking when I say that I literally had to restrain myself to keep from leaping from my seat and squealing with joy. I have a hard time picking favorites, but if I were to pick 3 bands that I love more than any others, it would be Hum, Failure and Sunny Day Real Estate.


I was introduced to Hum in high school by the drummer of my band. I immediately fell in love and listened to their album "You'd Prefer an Astronaut" more times than is probably healthy. It was the perfect mix of loud, spacey, nerdy, layered, heavy, geeky music and was very different from anything else I'd ever heard. Who knew you could have heavy music without anger?

In college they came out with another album ("Downward is Heavenward") that I also put on heavy rotation. One day someone was walking through the hall of my dorm when they heard it playing and knocked on my door. Matt and I started talking about Hum and some other bands we liked in common and we're still friends to this day (he runs a recording studio in Baltimore).

Later on during my freshman year Hum went on tour and was going to be in Atlanta on a weekend. Four of us bought tickets and made it a road trip. Matt and I even brought some of our recording equipment along for the ride just in case. A few hours before the show started, we loaded up our arms with that equipment and knocked on the back door of the club. "We're here to record the show" we said when they opened the door. "Sure, come on in. There's a booth in the back you can use". Long story short, it was amazing. We got to meet the band after the show and they even signed my pocket protector (did I mention I'm a nerd?). Later that year when they were touring in Nashville I saw them again and talked with them after the show and they remembered me and my pocket protector.

Anyway, Hum broke up several years ago and then have gotten back together in the last few years mostly to play local shows in the Chicago area or one-off festivals. This was the first tour they've done since. I really, really enjoyed watching them play again but I can't say Erin felt the same way. She's never liked Hum and this concert did not change her mind. But as a loving husband I've learned to forgive her for her failings.


I also started to listen to Failure in high school, but unlike Hum, I've never seen them perform. Shortly after their biggest album "Fantastic Planet" came out they broke up and disappeared. Sure the individual members had solo albums and produced and recorded other bands, it's not the same. Failure is another layered, spacey, guitar rock band from the 90's and most people have probably never even heard one of their songs. Erin calls them a "band's band" meaning they influenced a ton of other musicians but never made it popular themselves. While I enjoy their previous albums "Magnified" and "Comfort" I will never grow tired of "Fantastic Planet". When Erin and I first started dating we made mix-tapes for each other and included a few Failure songs on those. As a result, Erin likes Failure, which is the only reason she agreed to drive all the way out to Charlotte for this show.

Failure recently got back together and recorded a new album "The Heart is a Monster". It's quite good and looks like it will be my favorite new album this year. It does a good job of mixing their earlier sound with the style of "Fantastic Planet" while also adding some new interesting things. And I have to say that they are the "fullest" sounding 3 piece band I've ever seen live. Listening to all the different layers they have on their recordings I was worried that it would sound thin live, but they definitely pulled it off.

The crowd was really into both bands, (singing along, banging heads at the appropriate time, etc) which made the show that much better. And since both of these bands were originally from the 90s, this was one of the few concerts Erin and I have been to recently were we didn't feel like old folks.

I highly encourage everyone to spend your hard earned money on music from both of these bands, if you don't have it all already.


  1. Michael, who closed the show? I'm going tonight in philly (I'm pumped) and I was just curious.

  2. In Charlotte, Hum opened and Failure closed. I don't know if that's true of all the tour dates or not since they are co-headliners.


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