Review: Hypernova rock out at Thee Parkside

I normally ignore the dozens of email messages from publicists that pile up in my inbox. Occasionally, one catches my eye. Indie? check. Joy Division, Interpol, Chameleons? Check. Iran? That’s a new one. That new one would be Hypernova.

“In the beginning, there was a lot of media attention around our story,” Raam says in a recent interview. “There was this oriental element to it: ‘Oh, look, here’s this band from this theocratic state where we never imagined hearing this kind of rock ‘n’ roll.’ To be honest, I felt like we didn’t deserve a lot of that attention, because when we first came here, our music really sucked.”

Well, Hypernova have been stateside for three years now, and it’s clear from last weeks show that Raam (vocals), Kodi (guitarist), Kami (drummer), and Jam (bass) have spent a lot of that time playing these past few years, because their performance at Parkside was tight, passionate and extremely danceable.

I got to the club a few minutes before nine, thinking the opening bands would be starting soon. I was off by about an hour and a half. When I arrived, Yellow Dogs were just staring their sound check, and the earlier dinner crowd was still in full force. After all the diners and happy hour holdovers were cleared out, I was able to pass the long wait thanks to an iPhone and a love of people watching. As the club filled, I was surprised by the overwhelmingly huge Persian turnout. I think the bartender, the bouncer and I were amongst a handful of folks that didn’t speak Farsi. No matter, we all love rock and roll.

The evening began with a rocking set from The Yellow Dogs. I’m not sure who was more excited – the crowd or the band. Everyone in the audience was incredibly stoked to have two Iranian bands on the bill, and The Yellow Dogs were eager to please the packed house. The set list featured tracks like “Hustler” and “New Century,” a song from the 2009 film, “No One Knows About Persian Cats,” that centers around the Iranian underground music scene both The Yellow Dogs and Hypernova came from.

It wasn’t a long break before Hypernova took the stage. Much to my delight, Raam was wearing his signature Rayban glasses and was also sporting a full head of hair, unlike in the Fairy Tales video. The band had also added a keyboardist to their touring lineup. I don’t remember what they opened with but they nailed some of my favorite tracks like the anthem “Viva la Resistance,” and also the quieter numbers like “Here and Now.” Raam dedicated “Universal” to the Iranian election protesters of 2009, or as he put it, their “friends back in Iran who stood up to the assholes in power.” The highlight of their set was “Fairly Tales.” It’s hard for me to comprehend why this song hasn’t gotten more airplay or blog coverage, but no matter. I’ll just be able to say, “told you so” next time they come back though town at a much larger venue, with much better lighting.

After the Hypernova set, I did a bit more people watching as the band busily cleared the stage, packed their instruments and loaded their van. There’s no backstage at Parkside so all of this takes place in front of the club. There were dozens of eager fans waiting for autographs and cheering on Kodi and Kami each time they brought another load of gear out of the club to the small trailer being pulled by the tour van. The guys were extremely friendly, and took the time to chat, and sign a CD or two for the giggling Persian girls that crowded around Raam. Once the equipment was loaded, Kodi went out of his way to approach me and say “Hello.” He joked that he was worried he’d damaged my ears. After all, I’d been shooting with my fisheye lens quite literally under his nose. I assured him my musicians earplugs had kept my eardrums safe, and I sincerely thanked him for a great evening of rock and roll.

Hypernova’s Through The Chaos is available via Narnack Records.

See the full photoset of Hypernova’s performance on Flickr.
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