Horse Jumper of Love
November 22, 2021 at Afterhours
A dark and stuffy room of college students, hidden away next to a dimly-lit Starbucks, sat in anticipation waiting for Boston natives Horse Jumper of Love to perform their slowcore hits. While they were only meant to be the opener for their tour mate Indigo de Souza, they now had to step up as her replacement for the ragtag group of students huddled together in the worn-out café.
Brand new local artist Arden Lloyd delivered an encapsulating acoustic set to open the show, performing tracks off of her brand new EP This Moment. She belted out her folk-centric ballads with full emotion while effortlessly strumming her guitar as if it were an extension of her own body. She left a strong impression on her audience, and this impression then shifted into suspense and angst for Horse Jumper of Love’s screeching guitars and winding melodies. While some meandered their way to the front row excitedly waiting, others seemed to be there just for the live music. A mix of conversations floated through the small crowd, with some asking, “Do you know who this is supposed to be?”, and others discussing seeing the band open for Indigo de Souza at her September Boston show. Soon enough the three-piece group wandered on stage with a mysterious and lumbering presence. The crowd cheered, with some ready for any performance at this point, and others excited for the band’s subdued shoegaze energy. The drummer introduced a fiery and explosive spirit contradicting the mellow and intense screeches of the guitar and bass blending together. Heads bobbed up and down across the front rows with students’ heads banging to the group’s 2016 album Demo Anthology. A feeling of release and freedom could be sensed across the crowd, as everyone was able to find some meaningful emotion through lead singer Dimitri Giannopoulos’ sincere delivery. Introducing some of his own improvised solos over the old songs, the notes seemed to float in a fuzzed-out cloud above the winding and hypnotic bassline that acted as a backbone. An intimate and melancholic energy was created and slowly seeped through the entire crowd.
At this point whether or not you knew who Horse Jumper of Love was didn’t matter. They were able to remind everyone in the room of music’s ability to connect people through a feeling. An intentional and delicate manner could be seen behind the band’s nonchalant and noisy exterior, most noticeably on the live version of “Orange Peeler.” It was refreshing to see a band that places so much genuine meaning and intention behind their songs, and could effortlessly share that raw emotion in a live setting. Towards the end of the set, the band seemed to be a bit more loosened up and introduced a sarcastic and lighthearted tone that was in contrast with the melancholy slow rock energy they’re known for. Stopping only to catch his breath and engage with students, Dimitri mentioned that the band had gotten lost on the way in and tried to play pool on campus, only to be denied. He jokingly threatened to sue Northeastern, setting off a roar of cheering from the crowd that took over the entire room. This energy of freedom and rebellion carried through the final stretch of their set, swirling around in a melting pot of students. Their hit “Ugly Brunette” closed out the set, simmering across the room with its bending guitar deceptively reeling in the audience. The final chorus riff seemed to crash over the crowd with a wave of distortion and tortoise-like slowed down grunge sound, producing a sublime release while simultaneously bringing everyone together. A perfect ending to Horse Jumper of Love’s raw slowcore rock set.