Finish Ticket | 11.09.16

Brendan Hoye moved like a tiger in a small cage, every word punctuated with some sort of movement.


Bluebird Theater, Denver

The crowd was 95% young girls, angry black X’s etched on their right hands. Before Finish Ticket even began the show, the girls screamed every time someone took the stage to position instruments. Yeah—it was gonna be that kind of night.

When the band finally came on, the girls went wild, screaming extra loud as Brendan Hoye grabbed the mic and started singing. With fully one-third of the front of the stage to call his own, Hoye covered every inch. He moved like a tiger in a small cage, full of jerky moves and emphatic head and shoulder shakes, every word punctuated with some sort of movement.

Lead guitarist Alex DiDonato had the stage presence of a slug. Buried on the far right, behind bassist Michael Hoye (Brendan’s twin), touring guitarist David “Crim” Nguyen brought all the energy and the enthusiasm—but alas, he was restricted to a small space in the back. (Another pair of brothers rounds out the band, drummer Gabe Stein and keyboardist Nick Stein.)

Midway through the set, my friend—a fellow English teacher—commented, “I wish the lyrics were better.” Unfortunately, that became the theme of the night (for us, not the screaming teens). I wish the music had been better. I wish Hoye had incorporated more falsetto into his delivery, more variety in tone, key, and presentation. I wish the band members had seemed to be having the time of their lives, rather than just playing a show.

Finish Ticket went on, delivering songs that were, one after another, too much of the same. They’re good enough musicians, but their music is wholly indistinct. They’re missing that…something, instead offering the mundanity of what’s all been done before. In an odd and not good way, Hoye reminded me of Steve Perry: the overemoting and overemphasis. Whereas Perry did it with an out-of-this world voice, solid lyrics, and an incredibly talented band behind him, Hoye—well, Hoye did not.

The band threw in a cover of Arctic Monkeys’ “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?” that, while well received by the audience (and appreciated by me), further illustrated what Finish Ticket lacked: insightful words and complex musical composition.

In what is never a good sign, Hoye announced they’d be playing a song they wrote in high school. The girls screamed; I cringed. As they delivered the final song of the main set, a wall of girls in front held 8.5″ x 11″ signs that said “Thank You” in the band’s logo font. The first song of the encore—which found DiDonato staring down at his hands as he played and Hoye, of course, pacing, pacing, pacing—merited a rash of red carnations held up by the girls in front of the stage. | Laura Hamlett

About Laura Hamlett 467 Articles
Laura Hamlett is the Managing Editor of PLAYBACK:stl. In a past life, she was also a music publicist and band manager. Besides music, books, and other forms of popular culture, she's a fan of the psychology behind true crime and violent criminals. Ask her about mass murder...if you dare.

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