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The Scarlet & Black

Folk-pop in Herrick tonight with PHOX

Photo contributed.
Photo contributed.
Photo contributed.

Halley Freger

It’s time for another highly anticipated concert — PHOX is playing at Herrick Chapel tonight at 9 p.m. Opening for PHOX is Grinnell’s Seth Hanson ’17 who performs under the moniker Seth Hanson and the Additional Six. Since starting this project in 2012, Hanson has put out 11 releases. On his most recent, he abandons a warm, folky sound for a new lo-fi aesthetic. The four track EP “Down Time’s” was mostly written and recorded while Hanson was studying abroad in New Zealand, and perhaps it was the change of landscape that inspired a change in sound.

The standout track “Moving Song” is heart wrenching in its minimalism. Hanson’s vocals pound and waver over a keyboard, sometimes intertwining with Eliana Gray’s vocals. Towards the end, simple strums of electric guitar ring in a layer of fuzz. The entire EP was recorded on a Memorex handheld cassette recorder. It’s washed in lo-fi distortion that causes the keyboard to waver and guitar to buzz. It’s truly a bedroom recording, which suits the deeply emotional content of the album. The name Seth Hanson & the Additional Six is somewhat misleading because it is ultimately a solo project, but Hanson is constantly collaborating with other artists, such as Helen Forsythe, Zach Stewart ’17 and Rafael Estrada ’18 who will perform with him tonight. Not only does he collaborate with musical artists, but visual artists as well — in addition to CDs, tonight he will be selling “Seth Hanson, Helen Forsythe, and The Additional Six Help You Find Your Keys,” a zine created by Serena Hocharoen ’17.

PHOX similarly relies on creative collaboration. Although they connected for what was assumed to be a one-off show at the local event, they continued to play together, inviting Monica Martin to join them as a vocalist. The band hails from Baraboo, WI, the former home of the Ringling Brothers. It’s somewhat fitting that they come from a town associated with the circus because their music often has a unique sense of whimsy.

The band’s blend of alternative folk and indie pop is perfectly showcased on their irresistible single “Slow Motion” off of their self-titled debut album. Martin’s rich vocals are interrupted by guitar flourishes and whistling. There’s even a clarinet solo in the middle of the song. It’s daring in its ability to embrace playfulness. It’s in this bold experimentation that the song maintains a minimalist, alt-folk edge even though it’s layered in instrumentation. They often couple their music with other forms of art. When they released their 2013 EP “Confetti,” a video component was created for each track. They also screened their mockumentary film “Amor Fati,” directed by member Zach Johnston, at the Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival.

Although the band announced last month that they are going on final tour before a hiatus, it is clear that they will continue to create together. In their message they assured fans they would “make sure to keep you posted on all [their] respective explorations in songwriting, filmmaking, collaborating, composing, producing, and graphic novel writing.”

Grinnell is lucky to welcome PHOX on this celebratory tour.

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