The Hawthorne Experience, a band comprised of University of Arizona students and brothers Will and Kenny Belcher and Jonah Walsh-Hallman, got its start playing house parties and keggers for fun.
But in mid-November, the band scored its first paid gig at the Screening Room in downtown Tucson. It was a game-changer.
The band will debut at Club Congress on Dec. 6, opening for The Bush League. The concert starts at 7 p.m. at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St.; tickets are $10.
Playing Club Congress is a feat that many local bands and artists strive to attain. Playing Congress is often seen as a turning point for many artists and performing groups.
Perhaps it could also be for the small Tucson-based band.
Lead singer and guitarist Will Belcher said that booking Club Congress is a huge step for them as a band.
“It's just such an extremely well-renowned venue in Tucson,” he said, adding that it was around this time three years ago that he saw his favorite band, Duncan Fellows, perform at Club Congress.
“I even went up to the lead singer and told him that I was starting a band,” he said, “and I told him when we release some music, I would send it to him.”
Three years later, The Hawthorne Experience has released an album and many singles including their most recent drop in October, an EP called “Here We Go.” At the moment, the band has 289 monthly listeners on Spotify. Their music consists of intricate guitar melodies and layered instruments to create a full, fresh sound.
During their shows, the band plays a combination of their own original songs as well as covers by well known bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Tame Impala and Sublime.
According to Will and Kenny Belcher, The Hawthorne Experience, named after the street where the brothers live in Tucson, fits into a genre of ‘psychedelic indie rock,’ but bassist Walsh-Hallman disagrees. He prefers to call the band ‘indie rock.”
Will Belcher said that one of their biggest inspirations as a band is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but if he had to describe his music, “it would really be a mix of everything.” He said that the goal of the band is to combine all of their favorite styles of music into one sound.
“Their natural musicianship and love for their art is so apparent,” said Jacob Amey, a senior in the UA School of Dance who is a fan. “It adds so much throughout their performance, which engages the audience to another level and makes us want to dance all night long.”
The band has gotten traction through the support of their friends in the UA community. Since 2021, The Hawthorne Experience has thrown house parties at their friends' houses and even their own home on (East) Hawthorne Street.
“Their name lives up to the hype, it truly is an experience,” said Pouria Mostafizi, a UA senior who hosted the band at a house party in mid-November. “I have never been around a band that is so connected with the crowd.”
When the band was able to play their first paid gig on Nov. 12, the Screening Room did not expect much.
“I think they just thought like 15 of our friends would show up, so they didn't give out wristbands or tickets or anything," Will Belcher said.
But just the opposite happened. Students and fans alike showed up to support the band and have fun. While they didn't sell physical tickets, they did sell out of beer.
“I think that says a lot more about us as a band than just selling tickets,” Kenny Belcher said.
*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.
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