Hiss Golden Messenger at SOhO | Credit: Rebecca Horrigan

For a UCSB grad, Hiss Golden Messenger put on one of the tamest concerts I’ve been to in awhile. And refreshingly so. This past Thursday, Hiss kicked off his stripped down solo tour at SOhO in the home of his alma mater, wielding the power of his perfectly-tuned Martin guitar and a beautiful voice pulsing with soul as his only weapons. These two attributes were all he needed to bring the crowd to a hushed silence and reverent sway.

I actually forced myself to lip sync along at times as I didn’t want to disturb the perfect melodies showering the room. His set included fan favorites such as the soul-searching “Hardlytown,” the instantly catchy “I Need a Teacher,” and the hauntingly beautiful “Highland Grace.” In this rare solo performance, we were also treated to his deeper cuts and a few stellar songs from his upcoming album. 

The raw intimacy was palpable as he discussed his domestic life: making a mean roast chicken and relaxing at home with his family. Much of the night felt as if we were catching up with an old friend.

As he thanked the crowd for their peacefulness and toyed aloud with the idea of moving back here, the feeling of goodwill seemed mutual. But like any great musician, it was in his songs where his heart was truly felt. In the delightfully jangly “Drummer Down,” his voice crooned, “But my home, oh you know I loved it well.” As a Santa Barbaran in the audience that night, I couldn’t help but feel it.


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