I felt the Christmas Spirit at The Oh Hellos’ Christmas Extravaganza in Music Hall of Williamsburg (MHOW). It was one of the few instances in this holiday season that I remembered the meaning of Christmas, and that it was also Jesus’s birthday. Yes, I know that sounds humorous and strange; his name is literally in the title. Yet, The Oh Hellos served a concert that felt like the warm milk and gingerbread cookies you leaves for Santa; making the audience a pack of Clauses.
There was not one inch of MHOW’s stage that was left without a Christmas ornament. Tall, make-shift paper trees aligned the center stage with Christmas lights criss-crossing them: a gentle, sparkling reminder of the creative energy that is Christmas. It is not only a time to buy gifts, but make some the greatest memories you will carry of your family. The band had their Christmas hats, sweaters, and glee giving the audience an immediate feeling that they were not kidding when they said, “Christmas Extravaganza!”. To my surprise, The Oh Hellos brilliantly arranged their songs with Christmas carols like, “Silent Night”, “Deck The Halls”, “Rejoice Rejoice” with their own hits like “Exeunt” and “Dear Wormwood”. The result was riveting and brought out the “everyday” qualities of Christmas carols and the festiveness of “everyday” music.
For me, The Oh Hellos’ music is one you can listen to everyday, which they showed at MHOW. Playing songs from their previous records Dear Wormwood and Through The Dark Valley, it made the band seem like they have been releasing music for decades compared to the five years they have been giving the world songs as wide and as sandy as a desert. Their music carries grains of wisdom that fall upon listeners like never-ending sand. Moreover, their lyrics are all about finding yourself as a person, while learning to enjoy the people you come across in that self-discovering journey. Hence, their blending of their music with Christmas songs brought out the holidays’ joy and clarity of thought could be felt everyday: if you choose. It was mesmerizing to see The Oh Hellos’ lyrics of the daily spiritual exploration/ elevation we take as individuals match how Christmas is just a heightened time of self-reflection, particularly in terms of love. In addition, by mixing in songs about Jesus, it made the night/ season feel as if his presence was abound. Yet, it was not a presence of preachiness as he can be used to convey, but one of peace, which is how he was actually portrayed.
When Maggie Heath sang “Silent Night”, I cried. It was sweet and tender as if she was placing the infant Jesus in a a manger within the middle of the crowd. The sentimentality swept me up with how soft and tranquil it turned the night/season. It was a beautiful remembrance that Christmas is a holiday to offer new life for all in the coming year. Have such a heartwarming reminder was unexpected because she sang the song after a hilarious Christmas Caroling session with the audience. The moment led to a funny rendition of “Jingle Bells” that brought a “office party” feel to the atmosphere, which I loved. Office parties carry the excitement of knowing a long-awaited break has been earned, and work hours will be happily replaced with family ones. Family was something The Oh Hellos definitely elaborated in their energy and in words.
For The Oh Hellos, the bond you share with your family is one to relish and respect, but it also the family you choose that can earn such a loving loyalty. The band, as a whole, seem like a batch of brothers and sisters, when in fact it is only lead vocalists Tyler and Maggie Heath that are siblings. Yet, their banter amongst themselves and the crowd stirred the “office party”/ Christmas Extravagana they wished to represent like,their hilarious raffling of a merchandise gift bag. The audience cheered and laughed for the lucky winner, Rachel, while Tyler showed his comical, dry wit could easily charm anyone. Overall. the night reminded me that Christmas is about the love of people: not things.
When your shopping for gifts or planning a hefty “weight-loss” regiment because you are about to see your ENTIRE family, it can be easy to get taken by the “materialism” that has come-over Christmas. Yet, The Oh Hellos brought out the celebration of Christmas, especially in terms of a human being, Jesus, who was all about the heart of a person. Seeing people sing- along and laugh amongst each other with openness and willingness to let their smiles shine seems like a rare event, but The Oh Hellos made it a Christmas miracle. Moreover, they made it snow, literally, at the end of the night as they sang for the New Year, and I prayed that they did this Christmas Extravaganza in the new one, as well. For More Information On The OH Hellos Click Here.