Dave Hause and the Mermaid show in Asbury Park, Buffalo New York
What happens when a long-time punk rocker sets aside his stage-diving ways and takes up an acoustic guitar? You get Dave Hause. In the early aughts, Hause was a member of the Philadelphia punk bands Paint It Black and The Loved Ones, but has performed and recorded solo since 2009, after joining Chuck Ragan’s folk rock Revival Tour. His evolution has seen him through frenetic hardcore sounds to stripped-down acoustic melodies to where he is now, channeling his ‘80s rock idols (like the Hooters and Bryan Adams) by playing catchy, honest, straight-up rock ‘n’ roll. But with all of this change comes a rebuilding of sorts.
After years of touring solo, he’s pieced together a full band, called the Mermaid, to back him. It features his younger brother Tim on lead guitar, Kayleigh Goldsworthy on keys, Miles Bentley on bass, and Kevin Conroy on drums. Since the release of Hause’s third solo album, Bury Me in Philly, in February 2017, they have toured almost constantly, crisscrossing much of the U.S. and Europe. After spending the festival season overseas, Dave and the Mermaid decided to close out the summer a little closer to home, doing a short tour of the east coast.
They kicked off the week in Buffalo, New York, at the Waiting Room’s intimate upstairs club space. The crowd was thin but enthusiastic and attentive for the openers, Kayleigh herself followed by Greg Priester of the local band Into the Wake, both of whom played solo acoustic sets. While the show didn’t sell out, by the time the lights dimmed and Hause took the stage, the energy in the room was so high that you wouldn’t have known it. The Mermaid kicked things off with the effervescent "Helluva Home" before launching into "Melanin," a perennial favorite from his first solo album Resolutions.
The night ended up featuring the perfect mix of old crowd-pleasing belters and new cuts off Bury Me in Philly, though it was obvious that the folks in attendance were well acquainted with the new album – the singalongs during "The Flinch" and "Shaky Jesus" were just as loud as for classics like "We Could Be Kings" and "Time Will Tell." And in what was hands down the best moment of the night, Hause spotted a boy of about five or six in the audience and brought him on stage to sing "C'mon Kid" before sending him on his very first crowd surf.
Less than a week later would see the band back in their old Jersey stomping grounds, headlining their biggest show to date at the House of Independents in Asbury Park as part of the Bouncing Souls' end of summer bash. By the time the doors opened, the show had sold out, meaning that five hundred people would bear witness to the Mermaid’s raucous, triumphant return to the shore. Local favorite Jared Hart with his new band (featuring familiar faces) warmed the crowd up before the Mermaid took the stage. In an unexpected but beautifully appropriate choice, Hause opened the show with “Meet Me at the Lanes,” a soft, wistful song that recalls old friends and long-gone haunts, before launching into the barnburner “Bury Me in Philly.”
Hause and his compatriots might not be a hardcore band, but there’s still more than a little of the punk left in them, as evidenced by the level of energy they maintained for the entire two-hour set. And if the audience in Buffalo had been loud, the one in Jersey was deafening.
They joined him in singing every song and filled every pause with cheers and screams. The stage-divers and crowd-surfers came out of the woodwork when Hause brought his Loved Ones bandmate Chris Gonzalez on stage to join in on a few songs, one of which was “Jane,” a track from The Loved Ones’ debut album. After ending the set with the populist anthem “Dirty F*cker” (which was dedicated to a certain high-ranking elected official), the Mermaid returned for a three-song encore featuring gems from all three of Hause’s albums, “Damascus,” “Resolutions,” and “With You,” and left behind a breathless, exhilarated audience who would happily have sat through twenty more songs.
The timelessness and authenticity of Hause’s songwriting has always marked him a force to be reckoned with, but now, with the Mermaid cohering into a solid unit behind him, it won’t just be the hometown shows that sell out.
Coverage by Colleen Martin
Photography by Dave Hause and Jesse DeFlorio
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