The Collegian
Thursday, December 08, 2022

Richmond Reviews: Haley Heynderickx mesmerizes the Richmond Music Hall

<p>Street in Shockoe Bottom.</p>

Street in Shockoe Bottom.

Editor's Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of The Collegian.   

I entered the door into a dark room, with the sounds of a soft voice and a bright trumpet reverberating off the walls. The small, rectangular room that is the Richmond Music Hall was filled with both avid fans of the opening band, Illegal Son, and indie-folk artist Haley Heynderickx. For a Wednesday night near the middle of September, the room was crowded, but not in an uncomfortable way. The Richmond Music Hall is attached to the Capital Ale House, a well-known restaurant in the city center close to the Capitol that stays open late and serves classic pub food. The doorway, which allows both worlds to blend, helps create the easy-going, welcoming attitude of the evening. I saw people mingling between the concert and the restaurant next door: grabbing a beer, getting some fuel or catching up with an old friend. The combined force of Heynderickx’s performance, the flow of the Richmond Music Hall, and the welcoming audience is what made the show an event not to be missed. 

While Richmond is known for many things — murals, thrift stores and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts — another attraction to Richmond is its music scene. I’ve found that Richmond’s convenient location between large cities like New York and Nashville leads many artists to stop and do a show in RVA during their tour. This allows the small city to boast shows of accomplished artists like Suki Waterhouse, Garbage and TV Girl. The people of Richmond are a  welcoming and enthusiastic crowd; entering the Richmond Music Hall, I was met with friendly smiles, some familiar faces and an ambiance from the venue that set the tone for the concert. 

Like many Richmond music venues, the Richmond Music Hall is small in size, longer in length than width, but despite that, the Hall never fails to provide an excellent night and talented artists. The small venue allows for any concert-goer to feel a connection with the performer, while also being able to feel comfortable in the venue space. Additionally, the acoustics of the room don’t allow for reverberation, so the music is clear and without any shrill feedback or painful echoes. Seeing Haley Heynderickx perform in the Richmond Music Hall is the next best thing to seeing her perform in the California Redwoods — which she shared as being her favorite place. Such connections with the artists are truly made possible by the intimate venue and kind people. 

Haley Heynderickx’s performance was marvelous. Not only did she foster a connection with the audience but she entranced us. Her kind demeanor, witty humor and out-of-this-world voice created the perfect storm for any listener to be drawn into her world. Heynderickx’s setlist was phenomenal, drawing the audience in with her four most popular songs: “Untitled God Song,” “Drinking Song,” “The Bug Collector” and “Oom Sha La La.” Her music varies between traditional indie music and spoken word poetry. In her live set, she only used her guitar, allowing for the raw power of her voice to take center stage. She performed “Oom Sha La La” and “The Bug Collector” with the accompaniment of her friends from the opening act, Illegal Son, which added some complexity to the performance. However, the rest were performed solo. After her hits, Heynderickx introduced some more folk-experimental songs and followed those seamlessly with unreleased music about her experience with the pandemic. Her songs about the pandemic definitely erred more on the side of spoken word poetry, and the relatability of the lyrics really drew the audience together. This tour is Heynderickx’s first post-pandemic, and she stated still feeling impacted by the shadow of the pandemic but is grateful to be able to share the experience of music again. Heynderickx ended the evening softly with her powerful song “No Face.” “No Face” was an excellent song to end the concert on as it was more well known, allowing the audience to sing along, but also relevant thematically to her prior songs. Then, she bid goodbye to the enraptured audience and exited stage left. 

Overall, any concert at the Richmond Music Hall is an enjoyable experience, but Heynderickx’s performance was more than enjoyable — it was transformative. She captured her audience, retained their attention for the entirety of her set and created a perfect vibe to complement her music. I would quickly see her perform again, and I am already researching the next shows at the Richmond Hall of Music.   

Contact lifestyle writer Malena LoPrete at malena.loprete@richmond.edu.

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