Hozier in Jacksonville!

May 11, 2015 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Andrew Hozier, the Irish rock musician who skyrocketed to fame and international attention following the release of his song Take Me to Church and then followed up with a solid body of thoughtful, poetic musical work, came to Downtown Jacksonville for a completely sold out performance, and MetroJacksonville was there for the evening. Amazing photos and background on Hozier after the jump!

Hozier's performance in downtown Jacksonville had been sold out for many months in advance, quietly infuriating many fans of the earnest and passionate young musician. There was definitely a feeling of smug sub-ecstasy in the crowd outside of the venue amongst the people who had been fortunate enough to score tickets.

A man stood near the marquee with a sign that read "Tickets!?! Please!! Or my wife will take me to church!!!"…which given the context of the meaning of those lyrics was either funny, foreboding, or a reward for a job well done…

It was surprising how intergenerational the crowd was (and you can definitely see it in the crowd shots [a good hour before the event, it was already packed]). Lots of teens and twenty somethings mixed in with a solid chunk of adults and more mature fans.

Even more amazing was the sheer enthusiasm that greeted the opening chords of every single song, and the number of people who could sing along with every word.

Hozier sounds a bit like Elton John's vocals made passionate sex with Bono's and produced something wonderful and unexpected. Quirky, deeply emotional, literate lyrics that are full of deep sadness and infatuation with the human condition are pretty much his hallmark, and the crowd was feeling every syllable of them.

A brief bio on Andrew Hozier from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hozier_(musician)

"Andrew Hozier-Byrne (born 17 March 1990), known as Hozier, is an Irish musician and singer-songwriter from Bray, County Wicklow. In 2013, he released his debut EP, featuring the hit single "Take Me to Church", and his second EP From Eden in 2014. His debut studio album, Hozier, was released in Ireland in September 2014 and globally in October 2014.

Hozier was born in Bray, County Wicklow, the son of a local blues musician. He attended St. Gerard's School before he began studying a degree in music at Trinity College, Dublin, but dropped out midway through his first year in order to record demos for Universal Music. While at Trinity, he became involved with the Trinity Orchestra. He was a member of Anúna from 2008 to 2012, and appears as a soloist on their 2012 release Illumination singing "La Chanson de Mardi Gras". He toured and sang with the group internationally including performances in Norway and the Netherlands.

In 2013, Hozier released the EP Take Me to Church (also containing "Like Real People Do", "Angel of Small Death and The Codeine Scene" and a live version of "Cherry Wine"), with the title track becoming his breakthrough single after it went viral on YouTube. It reached number one on the Irish iTunes singles chart and number two in the official chart on 25 October 2013. Hozier followed up Take Me to Church with the new EP From Eden (also containing "Work Song", "Arsonist's Lullabye" and a live version of "To Be Alone"), and a number of festival tour dates and television appearances in the United States. Hozier released his self-titled album, Hozier on 19 September 2014. It featured five singles including "Take Me to Church", "Work Song", and "From Eden", which were hits on his earlier EPs. On December 5, 2014, it was announced that "Take Me to Church" was nominated at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards for Song of the Year in 2015. He performed "Take Me to Church" with Annie Lennox at the 2015 Grammy Awards."

Hozier: Take Me To Church

Andrew Hozier, being interviewed by a dutch journalist after his performance at the Victoria's Secret show. He speaks about Marriage Equality, James Joyce, singing with a choir and sex.

On his second album, and explaining some of the ideas behind his songs

Whilst Hozier was getting ready backstage, the crowd began filling every single seat of both floors of the venue.

The opening act, Low Roar, was a surprising bit of wonderfulness. Low Roar is a group of American musicians based out of Reykjavík, Iceland---actually mostly just one musician, Ryan Karazija. His music was ambient, mournful and backed by a solid pumping industrial rhythm section that gave a strange power to the otherwise indie feel of the music. Prior to the Hozier concert I hadn't actually heard their music, but pretty much became an instant fan. Judging from the lines for their merchandise, I suspect I was far from the only one.

Here is one of the official Low Roar Videos:

Opening Act, Low Roar: "I'll Keep Coming"

When you look up Low Roar on wikipedia, you get redirected to Audrye Sessions:

"Audrye Sessions was founded in 2002 by singer Ryan Karazija who was later joined by Alicia Marie Campbell. Soon after Michael Knox joined the band through a Craigslist ad. They began playing coffeehouses in their hometown of Livermore, California.

In a San Francisco Chronicle profile, they have described themselves as having a "very Brit-rock feel like The Beatles meet Muse." The band has been compared to Muse, Coldplay, Oasis, Radiohead, and Verve.

In 2007 they won a spot on Live 105's BFD summer concert, and have played at San Francisco's Noise Pop and Austin's SXSW music festivals. Their final lineup consisted of Karazija and Campbell, as well as Michael Knox and James Leste. Musicians who previously performed and toured with Audrye Sessions include violinist Anton Patzner and drummer Alex Feldman.

They released a self-titled Audrye Sessions EP in October 2008 through Black Seal, a unit of RCA Records. The band's first full-length album, was released on February 17, 2009.

In the fall of 2009, they recorded "Turn Me Off" in Simlish. The song was later featured in The Sims 3: World Adventures, the first expansion pack for the massively popular The Sims 3 video game.

Their music was featured in the television show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. In their first self-titled album, their song "Turn Me Off" was the most popular. In the summer of 2010, they released an EP called An Otherwise Perfect Day. On August 24, 2010, the band performed their final show in their hometown of Oakland.

Karazija subsequently relocated to Reykjavík, Iceland and recorded as Low Roar, releasing a self-titled album in 2011. A second album, 0 was released in 2014 by Tonequake Records.

Ryan Karazija chronicled the difficulty of acclimating to a foreign land, finding work, and supporting his family by writing a song each day, the results of which appeared in November 2011 on Low Roar's self-titled debut record.

Low Roar album draws from ambient influences, especially on single, “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight,” a sultry electro-washed song, recalling late 1990s era Radiohead. The album takes the listener on Ryan’s unsettled journey with yearning choruses and haunting strings in simple, yet stark, classical arrangements, alongside optimistic melodies and folk-styled songs. Combining elements of post rock with minimalist tones and sonically aligning with the change and introversion of fall.

The album was recorded with nothing more than a laptop in Ryan’s kitchen in Reykjavík, as a result of having a very low budget after moving to Iceland."

Low budget notwithstanding, the music was incredible. A great fusion of ambient, indie and industrial. Definitely recommend checking them out. I got the album and its been peppering my playlist ever since the concert.

Here are a few photos of their performance:

Low Roar onstage in Jacksonville, opening for Hozier

Low Roar onstage in Jacksonville, opening for Hozier

Low Roar onstage in Jacksonville, opening for Hozier

Low Roar onstage in Jacksonville, opening for Hozier

The Hozier performance, however, rocked the house. Andrew Hozier has more stage presence standing slackly at a microphone than Melissa McCarthy covered in chocolate sauce, set on fire, over a pit of alligators. He's a 6'5" giant of a man who manages to seem like the thoughtful poet that he is.

Many other writers have taken note of his use of Fulke Greville's poetry in "Take Me to Church."

"Lyrically, "Take Me to Church" is a metaphor, with the protagonist comparing his lover to religion. The song grew out of Hozier's frustration with the Catholic Church's teachings. "Growing up, I always saw the hypocrisy of the Catholic church," Hozier said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "The history speaks for itself and I grew incredibly frustrated and angry. I essentially just put that into my words."

In an interview with The Irish Times, Hozier stated, "I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was a death, a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment–if you see yourself for a moment through their eyes–everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense."

In an interview with New York magazine, he elaborated: "Sexuality, and sexual orientation – regardless of orientation – is just natural. An act of sex is one of the most human things. But an organization like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation – that it is sinful, or that it offends God. The song is about asserting yourself and reclaiming your humanity through an act of love."

The song draws inspiration from antitheist author Christopher Hitchens and paraphrases the poet Fulke Greville's verse "Created sick, commanded to be sound.""

Click on the link above to see how this single exposed the rest of the world to his music. It's pretty breathtaking, and he was 23 when it happened to him.

However, literally every single one of his songs is as thoughtfully lyrical, some even morbidly so. At one point during the performance, he sang 'Sedated', prefacing it with a story about finding dead bodies in a deserted corner of his home county in Ireland.  After thunderous applause, he remarked that he wasn't used to getting such an enthusiastic response for such a morbid song.  'You're my kind of people, Jacksonville.'

It was his first appearance here in town, but if this concert was any indication, there seems to be an unfillable appetite for more.

text by stephen dare
all photos by joshua taylor

Hozier onstage in Jacksonville

Hozier onstage in Jacksonville

Hozier onstage in Jacksonville

Hozier onstage in Jacksonville

Hozier onstage in Jacksonville

Hozier onstage in Jacksonville

The Hozier Jacksonville Playlist

text by stephen dare
all photos by joshua taylor