Home Body with Sister Jawbone
The Shea Theater Arts Center, Turners Falls MA
May 3, 2019
Story, photos, and video by Kelly D
I’m just gonna declare it- this is the year of Home Body. Though this “fever pop” duo has been lowkey grinding it out for quite some time on the local and national circuit, it’s clear that lately Home Body is finally getting its due as one of the eminent sensual and sensuous experiences in the Pioneer Valley and beyond.
I can’t even simply say “musical” or “concert” when it comes to describing a Home Body performance, because what Eric Hnatow and Haley Morgan do is so much more than that. Their sounds, their spirit, their souls touch every piece of their audience and unless someone is completely not paying attention (and, in which case, shame on them), the viewer is left shook.
Such was the case at Home Body’s Spiritus album release show at the Shea. Sold out, I had the best time trying to wade through the crowd because I kept bumping into familiar and friendly faces and giving hugs and smooches.
Sister Jawbone, Turners resident Sandy Bailey’s project, opened the evening. The five-piece woman-fronted ensemble’s music ranges from soul to rockabilly and damn near everything in between. I had seen them before back in January at the Root Cellar in Greenfield, but was pleased to have a bit more breathing room this time around (the show at the Root Cellar, which featured fellow Franklin County-residing women musicians Ona Canoa, Marlene Lavelle, and Bailey’s Patsy Cline cover band Patsy Clone, was similarly sold out with far less capacity)! In the video below, Sandy gives several shout-outs to Turners Falls’ proprietors of the Flourish and LOOT Found + Made shops (also run by women) on Avenue A before bringing the house down.
Home Body took the stage about half an hour later and. . . damn. It’s almost hard to put into words what we all experienced but let me do my best. Take two parts early Floyd (Syd Barrett era), a dash of Brian Eno-era Roxy Music, a healthy dose of Kate Bush at her weirdest, and a large portion of Peter Gabriel, both with Genesis and in his early solo career. . . That was very much what we experienced, plus the feeling of being in a Berlin nightclub in the 1980s, with pulsating beats hardly stopping throughout their performance. It was, as the kids say, a lot.
The duo performed their new album Spiritus in its entirety, plus a few other gems. It’s hard to believe there are only two people making their music, as the sound is often so lush and at times disturbing. Haley Morgan’s voice ranges from lyrical to almost like throat-singing. Some of my favorite Home Body songs feature her vocals as their own instrument. Eric Hnatow sings backup occasionally but mostly sticks to making his beats and connecting with Haley- his partner in music as well as in life- either by making eye contact, dancing with rhythmic connected movement, or emerging from his fortress of synths to wildly shake a tambourine as he and Haley do a synchronized back-and-forth on the stage. At one point they even sank to their knees, possibly succumbing to the beat of their own music.
The previous statement is made all the more impressive considering that they had props to spare that night- their standard equipment, of course, but also several TVs, extra lighting fixtures, and even an old VHS camcorder that was hooked up to one of the aforementioned TVs so when either one of the band members took hold of it, their POV was broadcast to us. On several of the new songs they debuted from Spiritus, the lyrics were scrawled across the screens like the acid trip pinball counting skit from “Sesame Street.”
The grand debut of a shimmering disco ball became perhaps the climax of the evening, as everything and everyone in the Shea became illuminated with not only the light of the glassy sphere but Home Body’s music as a sort of amorphous entity that had a life all its own. It was hard not to feel like this was the only time and place that mattered at that moment. . . Especially when they segued into a dreamy freaky version of Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby,” complete with green lasers shooting from the stage. Forget Studio 54, the Shea was IT that night.
I suppose this is all to say. . . GO SEE HOME BODY! Not only will you be glad you did but I daresay you’ll leave a better person for having done so.
UPCOMING HOME BODY TOUR DATES:
7/12 – PORTLAND, ME @ SPACE
7/13 – GREENFIELD, MA @ Green River Festival
7/27 – ASHFIELD, MA @ Ashfield Lake House
8/02 – BEACON, NY @ Quinn’s
8/03 – BECKET, MA @ Dream Away Lodge