TVD Live: Honeyblood and Jenna Fournier at the Grog Shop, 7/25

PHOTOS: ORIANA BELAVIC | Potential can be a real bitch sometimes. When you have potential, you have the tools to succeed and have a level of talent that is far above your peers. You’re right there and you can see success over the horizon. However, on the flip side, that horizon is so far away. Forget the hard work and all the bullshit to get to the place you want to be, sometime there’s just dumb luck and breaks that need to happen to get there.

Last Friday night at the Grog Shop, I saw two acts that I would bet on making it on the music scene—Honeyblood and Jenna Fournier.

I swear this Honeyblood thing is going to happen. However, you’d never know from their show at the Grog Shop that this is a band I’d be ready to bet on. The club wasn’t packed or raucous by any means; sparsely attended with a good number of those people being friends/family of the two local openers.

But while watching Honeyblood play, it all makes sense why you could see them reach an impressive level of success and is a band worthy of your attention.

First of all, sonically they are completely infectious and their sound takes you back to the distorted oasis that was the ’90s. It’s a fuzzy and crunchy mix of alt rock with hooks that are catchy as hell. Singer/guitarist Stina Tweeddale (bonus point for an awesome name) has a bubblegum sweetness to her voice that makes every song approachable, but there’s a smirk or darkness that lays just around the corner of every word. Drummer Shona McVicar provides a simple backbone and adds layers of harmonies that bring the songs to life.

Their set consisted solely of songs from their new (and first) self-titled LP and was surprisingly loud. Songs like “Killer Bangs,” “Bud,” and “Anywhere But Here” benefit greatly from the loud and distorted live setting as opposed to the cleaner shine on the record. They just rock. Think somewhere between Liz Phair and Belly if comparisons are your thing.

Honeyblood also has the quality to make people want to come back for more. During their set, they said this was their second trip to Cleveland, the first time through being an opening spot for We Were Promised Jetpacks. During the show I overheard conversations, and talked to a few people after the show, and three separate groups of people were there specifically to see Honeyblood because they saw them open for We Were Promised Jetpacks. To me, that’s pretty awesome. Opening bands don’t often make a huge impression on people, let along make people take notice enough to check out a headlining show their next time through town.

Lastly, they have a quality that just makes people smile. Tweeddale and McVicar both seem to really enjoy playing live and that had the crowd bobbing their heads and dancing. It was just fucking fun. My wife and I also had the pleasure of meeting them at the merch table after the show and they were really nice, personable, and patient with everyone who wanted to buy something, have it signed, and get a picture. If they blow the fuck up, it couldn’t happen to two nicer people.

Opening the show was Cleveland singer/guitarist Jenna Fournier, who is normally part of the band NIGHTS but was performing solo. Bathed in a wash of pink light, she confidently played a long set (one of the bands originally scheduled to play cancelled) and didn’t seem fazed by the change of plans at all. Through her daydreamy indie pop and a devoted group of followers, she’s off to a pretty damn good start on a local music scene. I’ve never checked out her full band and would be curious to see her get more exposure in front of big crowds, but she clearly is a talent to keep your eye on.

So, while potential can be a tightrope to walk, there was plenty on display at the Grog Shop. The crowd was small, but we were part of the journey for these two acts. Every performer or band starts somewhere, even in the smallest room, but seeing those glimmers of talent as artists ascend to greater things is all you can hope for as a music fan.

JENNA FOURNIER

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