The Horde and the Harem at Seattle’s Chop Suey


A free concert was held last Wednesday at Chop Suey in Seattle; sponsored by Relentless and FILTER Magazine. The bustling venue quickly filled and the opening act, five-piece folk indie-rock band The Horde and the Harem, was greeted to a packed house.

The young outfit has thus far produced two EPs and a slew of encouraging attention. Although their first live show was a mere six months ago they were invited to play at both the Folk Life festival and the Capitol Hill Block Party earlier this year.

THatH is able to generate a relationship between vivacious energy and a carefully tethered force in the development their songs. The melody is not rushed, nor does it appear to be forced to fit an archetype; at the same time the liveliness of rock is tapped into – a facet that is mysteriously hard to find these days.

The wrestle between symphonic and toughened tonalities comes to a peaceful agreement through the harmonization of the components. The melody structures are adaptive; incorporating a swinging flow of nascent harmony with a precise construct of layering. Highlighting this is the relationship of the piano, which varies dramatically from following the rhythm of acoustic strumming to complimenting the pentatonic plucks from the electric guitar, while at times standing alone in a self-sustaining presence.

The guitar work itself supposes the ‘need’ of the song and integrates their style to most fit it. There is never a time at which the song becomes murky or over-burdened in hapless virtuosity. Room is always given for the other instruments to breath; even at moments of the guitar driving the song. The bass line is very smooth and able to adjust between what fits the tempo and what will foster the melody. Subtle moments happen when the bass departs from following the backbeat to procure an intensifying sensation.

The percussive structure is explorative and significant to the movements each song makes; involving itself with the timbre of the melody. Devon Wilkerson (drums) never settles for too long in a static pattern; constantly shuffling in tempo and resonance to portray a dynamism. From pseudo breakdowns amongst strutting triple meters to explorative tom drum use in a relaxed ride pace; the effect is not only innovative, but succinctly formed as well.

The vocal push of the band is one of the most intricately developed themes in their music. Both guitarists, the keyboardist and bass player contribute whether it is in harmonized choir or stand alone song. Commonly taking up the helm as primary vocalist is acoustic guitarist Ryan Barber; though both Aura Barr (keys) and Noble Monyei (electric guitar) have their fair share of soliloquies. The dynamics of their distinctive voices frequently join in melodious synchrony, in various amalgams of stress and texture.

Approaching the realm of indie rock can be an awkward endeavor due to the conformities that circulate it – even though indie music originally presented itself as a genre born out of creativity. However, the stylistic qualities of THatH seem to have been acquired rather than adopted. Even though it is possible for one to highlight a similar sounding band or artist; the final production of their music belongs to the band, not to the genre.

The Horde and the Harem will be performing in Oregon on October 15 and will be performing again at the Chop Suey on the 28th of the same month. For more information on their tour dates and to purchase their EPs check here.