Hot Water Music
January 22, 2013
9:30 Club, Washington DC
By Curtis Bergesen
.@HotWaterMusic could rip @930Club in half with their emotion alone!
I tweeted this last night, while seeing Hot Water Music at the 9:30 Club, in Washington DC. Getting to enjoy one of your all time favorite bands at your favorite hometown venue is a rare treat. Add on the fact that I was with my lifelong best friend Will Harding, and well, this story sounds like a Disney movie.
My first exposure to Hot Water Music was hearing their song “The Passing” back in middle school. It was on a mixtape that my friend Peter made, consisting of punk, hardcore, and emo type songs. As time passed I became a more serious HWM fan. During my freshman year in college Napster blew up and all of a sudden I had insane amounts of music at my fingertips. I downloaded the available Hot Water Music tracks, eventually purchasing all of their albums.
In November 2003, I interviewed guitarist-vocalist Chris Wollard before a show in Philadelphia PA (see photo below). I contacted the band’s label at the time (Epitaph Records), requested an interview, and poof, it went down. We talked for over and hour in their RV, and I was super stoked. I recorded the interview and planned to air snippets of it on my college radio show, Mixed Vegetables. It was a very humbling, fun interview, followed by an awesome concert.
Hailing from Gainesville, FL, Hot Water Music consists of four members: Jason Black (bass), Chuck Ragan (guitar, vocals), Chris Wollard (guitar, vocals), George Rebelo (drums). Both singers have raspy, growly voices, and it’s frequently hard to understand what they’re saying. Last night in DC was no exception, and at times Chuck was rocking out so hard, he could barely get close enough for the mic to pick up his voice.
Last night I was particularly floored by the rhythm section. I’ve played drums for over half my life, and George Rebelo continues to be inspirational. He’s a great rock drummer with technical chops and a graceful flair making it all look easy. George used to play Maryland brand drums, which I always liked (being from MD). Jason Black’s bass lines are fast, melodic, and fun. He’s the only band member without facial hair and despite usually having a calm/reserved look, he moves around the stage a lot, fingers flying. Plus he’s an only child, bonus points in my book. To describe George and Jason in one word: fluid.
One thing I’ve always been drawn to in Hot Water Music is their emotion. The gruff, strained vocal chords singing and the way it’s delivered feels so heartfelt and tangible. This layer of heart icing on top of the already awesome songs just drives things home for me. It’s an unspoken connection that I don’t really feel with too many other bands.
Chuck and Chris stand on opposite sides of the stage, each with their own unique vibe. Chuck with his more aggressive movements, sweat pouring off, at times his guitar strumming looking like some kind of wild work out. Chris on the other hand generally moves slowly, with a loose, carefree demeanor. He’s taller, lankier, and less serious looking. When singing together, their voices and guitar lines sort of meld into one positive force. When only one is in action, it gives you a small gasp of air, allowing your mind to wander down the back roads of consciousness, paved by the band’s music and message.
Contact Curtis B on Twitter @Herbivorepr