This review runs in radio edit shine at Bowery's Houselist Blog
Hockey's lead singer Benjamin Grubin has this habit of touching his face. At times, this manifests as an index finger pressed to the femple, accompanied by a cocked eyebrow that indicates revelation at hand. In other moments, it is an open palm into which he buries his face and hairline. Nearly always he explodes away from these gestures, whipping his lithe frame in circles. On this night at a sold out Bowery, Grubin was in exactly this moment between the revelations communicated to his temple and the shroud of his palm over his face, both inspired and insecure, a spinning, exploding vessel of influences and new creations.
Of course, the Grubin acknowledges the unique space Hockey inhabits between the bands they are admittedly borrowing from and the new music they forged in this crucible of pastiche. On "Song Away," a song that transported the audience to a Tom Petty summer on the FM dial, Grubin sang, "I stole my personality from an anonymous source/and I'm getting paid for it to/I don't feel bad about that." This is just seconds after confiding "I want to write a truthful song over an 80s groove." The song was both, completely lifted and completely elevating. The sell-out crowd moved like it was the middle of June and perhaps Grubin's admitted influence-plagiarism made this all more carefree and honest. Earlier on the soaring "Learn to Lose," he admitted "Last time I lost control of my confidence it took me five years to get it back." The forthrightness was winning and unquestionably original.
In between playing two new songs, darker creations suggesting a deep second album, the band crushed debut record favorites "3am Spanish" and "Curse This City." After a deserved encore, the band closed with the appropriate "Too Fake" and Grubin was back to the topic of originality. This time coming to front of the stage, he screamed the chorus, "Look out! I'm just too fake for the world!" It was both terms of surrender and declaration of war, exhaustion in the age of footnotes and inspiration in a time of collage.