Hoops excites and mystifies at Funhouse

Joey Mueser/Staff Writer Who: Hoops Where: The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls Date of Review: Sept. 5, 2017
Joey Mueser/Staff Writer
Who: Hoops
Where: The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls
Date of Review: Sept. 5, 2017

By Joey Mueser | Staff Writer


With small beginnings from Bloomington, Indiana, lead guitarist and vocalist Drew Auscherman started Hoops in 2011. For three years, Auscherman played music as a solo-project, and when 2014 rolled around, three more members joined the band: bassist Kevin Krauter, keyboardist Keagan Beresford and drummer James Allen. The band quickly found its chemistry and released three extended plays. Eventually, one of its EPs, Tape #2, found its way onto YouTube where it fell into the hands of self-proclaimed indie-rock music savants who promptly praised its style.

The band initially recorded in Allen’s garage. After signing a label, the band’s music style maintained its intentionally distorted lo-fi sound but had a drastic improvement in sound quality.

Hoops signed its record deal in 2016 and released a six-track EP, which drew more attention to the band and its low-fidelity rock vibes. This year, Hoops had put out an 11-track long play titled Routines. Routines consists of mostly new tracks with a few from its prior work, but professionally recorded instead. Hoops’ newest record is consistent in style with its first few releases, but has an obvious change in quality of recording.

Routines is strong from start to finish. It maintains the band’s style throughout, yet all the songs are its own unique idea. In this album, lead guitar is the primary instrument in the group, but groovy basslines and syncopations are a great touch to keep the listener’s attention. Going without mention are the other band members, whose sounds blend with the overall aesthetic in a seamless fashion. The record is only 31 minutes long and it flows very well from song to song, so it’s easy to listen to the album in one sitting.

Hoops played at The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls in Millvale, just about a 20 minute drive from campus. With a capacity of 175, the Funhouse is a relatively intimate setting — perfect for a laid back show. After strong opening acts from SPISH and Searights, the stage was set for Hoops to play its inaugural concert for its latest tour.

Typical rock concerts will leave the audience with ears ringing — however, despite standing in the front row, the music seemed to be at a comfortable volume (either that, or I’m slowly going deaf). Fully equipped with different pedals and stompboxes, Hoops uses effects to give its music a distorted sound that would put it among beach/summer rock and reminiscent of 90’s college rock groups. Hoops put on an entertaining show and the environment remained very laid back and relaxed.

During the performance, Auscherman even addressed the audience and said on behalf of the band, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a show with so many people dancing along.”

My one complaint about the show is a compliment in and of itself to the album. Hoops took a while to get situated between songs, whereas a more seamless approach (more like how its album is structured) could keep the audience’s attention focused on them more intently — easier said than done, though.

Hoops started to take off as a group in 2014 and has been working its way up ever since. On most of its previous tours, the band played as an opening act, but the tides are set to change in Hoops’ favor if it continues to play with the unique style it has grown into. Hoops was a show well worth seeing and it will be headlining its own shows in due time.

After the show, I had a chance to talk to the keyboardist, Keagan Beresford. Since it was the first concert of its tour, I asked him what his favorite part of touring was. He responded saying, “We reach a point where everything starts coming together like clockwork, and we just get to relax and have fun with each other on stage”.

From what I gathered at the show, Hoops is well on its way to what will hopefully prove to be another successful tour for the small-town Indiana boys.