Back to rock’s softer side

For three weeks this year, intimacy is becoming the pillar of Hawthorne Heights shows, as the rock band sheds its harder sound and embarks on an acoustic tour.

The four-member group sat with guitars in their laps Friday for 40 cross-legged fans on a carpeted floor in West Hall, playing the acoustic-only set, which featured a mix of their oldest and newest music.

An eclectic audience consisting mainly of students – joined by younger fans who brought their parents along – lined the floor as the band played its songs, rewritten for acoustic sets, introducing an entirely new element to their tunes.

“You’ve got to think on your toes a lot more during a show like this, because it’s a lot harder to get people to sing along, because they aren’t used to hearing the songs this way,” lead singer JT Woodruff said.

Media Credit: Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor
Singer JT Woodruff joked with the intimate audience, calling out audience members to sing along and dedicating songs to fans.

Woodruff said audience members Friday approached him, admitting their surprise at the venue – a Mount Vernon Campus room with fluorescent classroom lighting, as opposed to the typical dimly lit bar.

Despite the unusual atmosphere, Woodruff said he loves doing smaller shows, as he joked with the audience, never taking his bandmates or himself too seriously.

“You can hear every single mistake you make when you play acoustic, and I have to sing so much louder because of how naturally everything just kind of sounds empty,” he said.

Although Hawthorne Heights fans spilled their support and love Friday, cheering, clapping and singing along, the idea behind the band’s newest album, “Hate,” is negativity, Woodruff said.

He added that the inspiration for the new album came from how “shitty people can be to each other for no reason.”

Citing cyber bullying and anonymous Internet comments – mainly on music blogs – as inspiration for the album, Woodruff said he does not understand why online space is used as a forum for bickering.

“The album is about how you can be anonymously negative and feel no repercussions from it,” Woodruff said. “But actually, life should be very positive.”

The takeaway from such a heavy topic, he said, is for listeners to “grow up and relax.”

“Hate” is one of a trilogy of albums, released in August 2011. The next two will revolve around different themes, Woodruff said. He declined to release what the new themes would be.

The student organization We Book Shows brought the touring band to GW for its final show of the year. Sophomore Matt Kostman, a member of We Book Shows, said Hawthorne Heights offered to perform at the best price tag of any other band they approached, solidifying the deal.

“We all decided that this acoustic tour would work best for us,” Kostman said.

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