Live Review: Hank May

The Goldfish  Los Angeles, CA

Contact: kate.rakvic@sacksco.com

Web: hankmaymusic.com

Players: Hank May, vocals, guitar; Sean Lean, guitar; Max Foreman, keys, steel pedal guitar; Patrick Taylor, bass; Dylan Gardner, drums

Material: Hank May might be one of the most quotable personalities in the indie rock scene. His humorous adlibs are liable to engage an audience member before, after and during the rendition of original compositions like “High on LCD.”  The raw sincerity of his interplay with random spectators often provides context for his love songs and a summary of his bachelorhood.  May is an Angeleno who spent four years, during his twenties, living in New York City. A place that undoubtedly influenced the lyrics for “Modern Medicine.” An alternative rock song filled with personal accounts about substance abuse, introspection and heartbreak.  

Musicianship: One of the most distinct components in Hank May’s music is his usage of the pedal steel guitar. It’s a glaring ingredient that adds a bit of a country twang to tracks that range from indie-folk and alt-rock to college rock and Americana.  “Where I’m Calling From” is a stand-out track from  May’s brand-new album, One More Taste of The Good Stuff. 

Performance:  Hank May displayed great command of his setlist and his vocal register. His voice echoed throughout the live venue in a tone that was very similar to Wesley Schultz from The Lumineers. But when he sang “NBC,” he produced a sound that seemed to be coming from his lowest vocal register. It was a nice display of how dynamic a vocalist he is. And it certainly contributed to one of the many reasons why the song is a crowd favorite.

Summary: On this night, Max Forman  routinely transitioned from backup vocals and keys to the pedal steel guitar numerous times. Meanwhile, the rhythm section’s standout moment of the live set came during the band’s rendition of “Offline.” The groove and underlying rhythm displayed by Dylan Gardner and Patrick Taylor meshed well with the dueling guitars of  May and his lead guitarist, Sean Lee.  As the show reached its conclusion, the back-up band exited the performance area, leaving May under the stage lights by himself to perform a couple of heartfelt songs with his acoustic guitar. It was a very sensible way for this emotional performance to reach its conclusion. •