Dave Hause's Ten-Month "Bury Me in Philly" Tour Concludes in New Jersey
Having spent much of the early 2000s fronting Philadelphia-area punk bands, Dave Hause struck out on his own in 2009, searching for a different sound. Armed with little more than an acoustic guitar, he joined Chuck Ragan’s star-studded Revival tour, a folk music gathering of artists from all genres and backgrounds, building a new following on the strength of his heartfelt songwriting. He would eventually be joined by his younger brother, Tim, a guitar virtuoso in his own right, and the two would tour as a duo, getting backing help from a variety of musician friends as needed when it came time to bring his first two albums, 2011’s Resolutions and 2013’s Devour, to live audiences. With his newest release, the Eric Bazilian-produced Bury Me in Philly, Hause assembled a permanent band, the Mermaid, which includes Tim, Kayleigh Goldsworthy, Miles Bentley, and Kevin Conroy, and they would spend most of 2017 on the road, playing 139 shows in ten months and cohering into a tight unit. But to close out what had been a banner year, Hause decided to return to his roots, playing a stripped down, semi-acoustic set at The Crossroads in Garwood, NJ, days before ringing in 2018.
The night was frigid even by late December standards, but no one inside the venue would have known, packed to capacity as it was. The crowd was made up mostly of long-time fans of the Jersey shore music scene, people who remember the days of gigs at the legendary Asbury Lanes, and the atmosphere was one of a class reunion that people actually wanted to attend. Opening for Hause that night was a staple of that scene, Jared Hart, and three-quarters of his new band, Mercy Union, which features Rocky Catanese and Nick Jorgensen (absent that night was Benny Horowitz). Hart played a mix of classic tunes and new, and at one point brought his girlfriend, Casey, on stage to sing harmonies. The audience was in good voice as well, singing throatily along through most of the set.
Vocals sufficiently warmed up, the crowd noise turned to a roar when the brothers Hause emerged. They seemed delighted at the reception they received, offering sheepish smiles as they assumed their places on the stage, Tim behind a keyboard, an electric guitar at the ready, and Dave, either standing next to his brother in the center of the stage or perched on a stool, acoustic guitar in hand. They would go on to play not just songs from Dave’s three albums, but also deep cuts, songs that are rarely played live, and covers, a mix that made the people in attendance feel that they witnessed something special. Played with a thoughtful gentleness, the music took on a different, but equally powerful, resonance. Though the set wasn’t as raucous as it would have been with a full band, the Hauses still managed to shake the building to its foundation when they got to rollicking numbers like “Autism Vaccine Blues” and “C’mon Kid”, helped in part by the exuberant crowd.
The set was but one factor in making the night special; there were many other elements that ensured a memorable night. The event was advertised as an intimate evening, a fact that Dave wryly pointed out not long into their set (“This is the intimate part, okay?”) as he made mention of his beloved Philadelphia Eagles football team, which inevitably led to good-natured heckling from the New York Giants-supporting north Jersey crowd. Carrying on with this point, he turned the mic over to Tim to let him relay a story about what happened when they recently played in Dallas, home of the Eagles’ arch-nemesis Cowboys (the surprise answer – you’re gifted a rare vintage jersey while on stage). He introduced another song by way of saying that, while the audience always intended to sing along to it, the voices invariably petered out because no one truly knew all the words. He then launched into “Jane,” one of his hits from when he was a member of the band The Loved Ones, sending the room into a frenzy. But by the time he hit the second verse, he paused to point out, to everyone’s amusement, that the volume of the crowd had indeed gone down substantially.
Borrowing a phrase from his recent touring partner, The Homeless Gospel Choir, Hause introduced “Seasons’ Greetings from Ferguson” by announcing, “This is a protest song.” When that concluded, he asked the room to pretend they were at a Misfits show, where cell phone use is forbidden, so he could debut a new song without it appearing on social media afterwards. Humorously entitled “NÜ” on the setlist, the song is a take on the frustrations of getting older, and if it remains in its current incarnation, it will be an interesting addition to the overarching story of his catalog, which chronicles a man and his journey through the various stages of his life. The attentive silence of the room was broken immediately afterward though, when Hause played an emotional rendition of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
Hause finished the main part of the set by playing both a rarity (“Bricks”) and a staple (“We Could Be Kings”), and took the briefest of breaks before reemerging for an encore. It was fitting that, at a time of year that is rife with self-evaluation, the tracks he selected to close the show all grapple with the idea of reflection and introspection. He was almost obligated to include “Resolutions,” his song about vowing to make positive change, and then he gifted the audience with the brooding, biblically-inspired “Damascus” and the speculative “Time Will Tell.” As the show wound to a close, Hause took a moment to muse on how his year had come full circle. The Bury Me in Philly album cycle started in that small New Jersey bar and it would finish there. He stated that he wanted to end the year as it had begun, and he played the song that had kicked off every date on that initial tour, the anthem “With You.”
With that, the curtain fell on what had been a remarkable year for Hause. Though his calendar for the U.S. remains blank, an upcoming European tour with Brian Fallon and the promise of new music have given fans something to look forward to. Considering the upward trajectory that he and the Mermaid are on, the excitement is well-founded. His albums have taken listeners on a journey through youthful optimism to shattered dreams, from the blackest despair to reclaiming hope as one emerges from the void. Fans will be eagerly waiting to see where the next stop on that journey will be.
Dave Hause setlist, the Crossroads at Garwood, December 29th, 2017
Autism Vaccine Blues
Bury Me in Philly
Jane (The Loved Ones cover)
Seasons’ Greetings from Ferguson
NÜ (untitled new song)
I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cover)
We Could Be Kings
Time Will Tell
Coverage by Colleen Martin and Photography by Patrick Gilrane
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