HoneyHoney (w/ Stendek) | 07.14.09

honey-honey.jpg Embarking on their first headlining tour, HoneyHoney played a phenomenal set at the St. Louis home of rock ‘n roll.



Blueberry Hill, St. Louis

I was first exposed to HoneyHoney about a year ago, when their EP came through our CD review submissions. I had never heard of them, and barely would have. Their album cover so unassuming, I nearly skipped the opportunity to listen. Had I done that, I would have missed out exposure to on one ‘ell of an EP. In fact, I liked them so much, when I heard they were coming through St. Louis, I actually cancelled another engagement in order to see them. And HoneyHoney did not disappoint. Embarking on their first headlining tour, they played a phenomenal set at the St. Louis home of rock ‘n roll.

HoneyHoney is Suzanne Santo (vocals, violin, banjo) and Ben Jaffe (guitar, percussion, backup vocals, other noises). The first thing that will come to most people’s minds when they hear HoneyHoney is “man, that girl can SANG!” Santo has more control of her voice than Clear Channel has of the radio industry. And with a commanding stage presence to match, she is definitely a girl who has star-quality. While Jaffe may be the more unassuming of the two, it is impossible to overlook the abilities of Santo’s on-stage counterpart. An amazing instrumentalist, with an amazing set of guitars, and on top of that, Jaffe himself has some amazing pipes. The only thing I was left wanting at the end of the evening was to hear him sing a fronted solo of his own.

HoneyHoney’s songs are catchy, upbeat “rocktastic” (to quote HH’s bio on their website) and guaranteed to get your toe tapping and mouths salivating. These guys know how to write a good tune. Like I said, they’ve had me hooked from the first second I heard them, and I’ve yet to hear new song I didn’t like.

If you haven’t heard their hit single “Little Toy Gun” by now, I demand you to do so. You will no doubt become as instantly obsessed with the duo as I have.

But, I digress…back to the evening at hand. Had HoneyHoney put on anything less than a stellar performance, they would have instantly been upstaged by their opener, Phil Stendek. This guy is one to watch. Back from Vegas, but a hometown St. Louisan at hart, Stendek is one of the best local performers I’ve had the pleasure to behold. And mind you, I have quite the local music obsession. Stendek takes the concept of one-man-band to an entirely different level. Surrounded by a slew of every rock instrument imaginable (other than bass – but my memory could be deceiving me), the only thing to upstage Stendek’s amazing performance abilities was his even more captivating sense of humor. If, by some horrible turn of events (emphasis on HORRIBLE), a music career doesn’t fledge out for Stendek, he will not be hard-pressed to find a career in standup comedy. But, if he keeps giving performances like the one I saw last Tuesday, there is no doubt in my mind that he will soon be contained in a rapid progression towards musical stardom.

Playing a fantastic combination of covers and originals, every song had a unique and infectious style that would captivate even the highest-browed music snob. If anyone is wondering what “it” is, and who has “it”, Phil Stendek definitely does. And we are fortunate enough to have him in our midst – and I will definitely be keeping a staunch eye on his concert calendar.

Stendek is currently slated to play in the Halo Bar on Monday, July 27 (immediately following the Rusted Root Pageant show), and at Off Broadway September 12 (opening for a CD release party hosted by yours truly). I strongly urge your attendance. So much so, that I’ll even buy you a drink if I see you there. |Sheila Shahpari

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