Photo by Mandi Nulph

Small Space, Big Sound

The Hip Abduction brings Caribbean pop to Sessions Lounge

With elements of reggae and West African music blended with big festival potential, The Hip Abduction (THA) are something like 21 Pilots, Imagine Dragons or Gen-Z-relevant Fall Out Boy.

There’s also a little Vampire Weekend, but unlike that band, the Florida-based THA skipped grad school to go surfing instead. THA is upbeat music, emotionally raw but ultimately optimistic, like on the song “Future” from THA’s latest release To The Ends of the Earth.

Elsewhere, “Summer Love” is a classic rocksteady-ish reggae song proving that when The Hip Abduction step out from behind some of their overly ambitious production, they can handle themselves just fine on their own, vocalist David New insisting we “get lost in the summertime” which, despite the rain, isn’t over just yet.

Also notable is “Come On Get Up,” a sensual pop song finely tuned to music from all-points-Caribbean, with laser focus on undeniable pop hooks. “Rise Up” is pure blissed-out pop with a social message, a tone echoed on “Warrior,” New imploring us to “fight like a warrior” because “the revolution won’t be on TV.”

The two sides of The Hip Abduction are a little hard to balance. It can be off-putting for a band to burst forth with such apparent ambition for success, like they’re asking to be given the spotlight rather than earn it, a presumptive free-pass to a Super Bowl half-time show — arrangements timed just right for imagined pyrotechnics.

But THA is inclusive, infectious, soulful, searching and optimistic music, and rarely do I hear a band so well-suited for Eugene’s collective, and often inscrutable, taste in live music. The fact they’re willing to do what they do in a small, intimate venue like Sessions Lounge proves they have a one-fan-at-a-time ethos — so see them now, because they won’t be playing venues this small for long. 

The Hip Abduction, with Level Vibes PNW, plays 10 pm Saturday, Sept. 14, at Sessions Lounge; $10, 21-plus.

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