Growing up amongst a family of musicians Ari Hest wasn’t pressured to follow in his mother’s or father’s footsteps. He took piano lessons as a child but really didn’t follow through more content with picking up a baseball mitt than playing an instrument. That’s not too unfamiliar a story I guess, more so than not most musicians start taking their career more seriously as a young adult than as a child. Still it was with this creative background it was inevitable Ari Hest’s talent shine and destiny take its course. It was destiny that brought him to a Saturday night engagement at The Barns at Wolf Trap and all those in attendance were the beneficiaries.
Before it was Ari Hest’s destiny to take stage it was Lizzy Loeb’s destiny to perform her own solo set. Solo sets are somewhat of an anomaly; excluding DJs. Usually it takes more than one person to fill a concert space with a full and robust sound. You wouldn’t know that with Lizzy Loeb. Her voice and her guitar was all she needed. The Barns captured and accentuated her performance perfectly. All of her songs sounded great! There was one in particular “Green House” that was absolutely breathtaking. It came complete with its own back story as she explained she grew up in a house where everything, the walls, the furniture, the floor was a different shade of green.
During intermission I took a moment to observe the odd but ridiculously cool percussion arrangement. It was the set of Ari Hest’s drummer Doug Yowell. It was just a bass drum, snare, high hat, two crash cymbals, and a crazy looking spiral trash effects cymbal (I had never even seen one of these before). There was table with different “toys” as Doug referred to them with items such as goat’s nails and a cabasa. It was interesting there were several songs where Doug would electronically loop sounds created with these “toys” into a rhythm prior to starting his drum beat. It made for some cool intros.
Ari Hest carries a cool demeanor about himself and that translates well on stage. He doesn’t just jump from song to song but engages the audience and explains the interpersonal meaning behind each of his songs. One was the meaning behind the song “Swan Song” which was about a dream. This is a deviation from what he normally writes about which is a conscious state of mind. He explains dreams are too vague and hard to interpret and that’s why he normally doesn’t write about them. Sometimes open interpretation is good. In this case it was, “Swan Song” was magnificent. It was like Ari Hest painted a picture in my mind with his lyrics, it was absolutely phenomenal.
The Barns provided such an intimate setting as well. The setting was so intimate audience members were asking Ari Hest personal questions in between songs. It was great! These questions later lead to a stunning revelation about Ari Hest’s like of Micheal McDonald and Ari Hest doing a short vocal cover of “I Keep Forgetting”. The cover was dead on!
I guess I could sum up the whole performance with those two aforementioned words, absolutely phenomenal. It was a fun evening and a fantastic setting. I laughed, I sang, I clapped, and I cheered just as did everybody else. Ari Hest captured The Barns, he captured the audience, and he captured my imagination. Very well done!