The Mother Hips: The Compound, Phoenix, AZ 3/22/12

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To borrow the description from their fan site The Grotto, The Mother Hips are known as “progenitors of California Soul, songwriting riff-layers, and harmonizing mood-swayers”.  To further elaborate, The Mother Hips are rooted in the California LA/Laurel Canyon scene that gave us Buffalo Springfield, Jackson Browne and The Bryds. Trying to live up to that comparison is a whole different entity, but one The Hips obviously enjoy pursuing. It’s interesting how The Mother Hips seem to fly under the radar with their music and if you were to interview anyone from their passionate fan base, they would prefer to keep things unique, quiet and small.

One thing that was very clear from this performance in Phoenix was The Mother Hips’ adherence to their pristine roots and routine. That routine included arriving on stage and taking a few minutes to tune up before diving into their set-list for the night. The crowd that night was a smaller, more intimate-sized crowd, and very mellow. Most of those who were in attendance seemed to be watching from afar while they enjoyed drinks/dinner and then there were the few Hips fans who were swaying on the dance floor. Wherever their vantage point, most of those in attendance seemed to be ready to enjoy a night with the Mother Hips.

The Mother Hips took the stage shortly after 10pm, and ripped through a set of solid jams, new and old. The set had a solid opening with “Esmerelda” off their classic album, Later Days, followed by a few surprises with the rarer “K.C. Southern” and “Del Mar Station”. As they seemed to be hitting their stride, the band and the crowd took a few moments to gather themselves before launching into the centerpiece of the night: a handful of newer tunes from their lastest album “Pacific Dust” which included “White Falcon Fuzz”, “Third Floor Story”, “Young Charley”, and a special request from the faithful for “One Way Out”.

It was clear towards the end of the set that their energy was fading a bit, mostly due to the mellowness of the smaller Arizona crowd at The Compound. It seemed that they we holding back, and at times just going through the motions. It was probably quite a difference, coming from a handful of gigs in California, which included a few opening slots with Umphrey’s McGee in West Hollywood at The House of Blues and in Oakland at the legendary Fox Theatre followed by their own gig playing down in San Diego at The House of Blues. During that run of shows that the crowds were a lot more attentive with free flowing energy. All things considered, The Hips still had a few solid moments and showed off a few surprises for some of their faithful following who made the trek from nearby California, Nevada and Utah.  All things considered a Mother Hips show never fully disappoints due to their down home originality, versatile musical chops and time tested perseverance to keep on going.

Top Photo by Andrew Quist

Setlist

Esmerelda, KC Southern, One Way Out, 2 Young Queens, Sunshine Feel, Del Mar Station, Magazine, This is the man, Grizzley Bear, White Falcon Fuzz, T Blood Line, Chum, Young Charley, Rich Little Girl, 3rd Floor Story, Song for J.B.

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