Honne (stylized as HONNE) submerged the crowd in electronic goodness at San Francisco’s cozy Rickshaw Stop on March 22. With James on the piano and Andy covering the vocals, the crowd was in for a steamy night of lovemaking melodies from two bashful Londoners channeling their love of, well, love.
The duo surprisingly lacked stage presence considering its vivid discography. Andy swayed and danced in place while James nodded occasionally as if the concert were just another rehearsal.
Yet the contrast between their passionate set and unexpected shyness charmed in the way only a pair of Manic Pixie Dream Boys can. Their timidness painted an image of the brooding but wistful boys in high school, who were less about testosterone-driven braggadocio and more about sharing Pablo Neruda lines on rainy afternoons.
The duo’s reclusiveness only heightened its alluring mystique. In one of their only interactions with the audience, Andy revealed that it was their first time in San Francisco before thanking the crowd with a coy smile. Everything about them was shrouded in mystery, down to hiding their last names from the public eye. When paired with their seductive music, however, they enraptured the willingly naive and reanimated their older, jaded counterparts.
Honne’s synth-heavy ballads are timeless soul and R&B rhythms coated generously in a smooth electronic lacquer. Their lyrics are sensual whispers distilled into classic lines such as “I love you like no other / ‘Cause this has never felt so right,” from their opener and debut song, “Warm on a Cold Night.” As the melody descended on the room, couples throughout the crowd gyrated in unison and affirmed it as a top play on the modern Millennial’s babymaking soundtrack.
Honne wasn’t just about sexual healing, however. Sprinkled throughout the set were songs about heartbreak, regret and homesickness. With tracks such as “Loves the Jobs You Hate,” in which Andy sings, “But let me tell you something you’d understand / Go fuck yourself,” they get across the thornier side of relationships and the unfortunate contract of romance: that to fall in love is to risk being hurt. With the song, a visible sadness rippled throughout the crowd and couples drifted on the venue floor, taking their literal first steps toward the end.
Deeper into the set, the audience sang along in solidarity to “No Place Like Home” with too-honest lyrics such as, “Oh these noises I don’t recognize / And lights too bright for you and I / It’s not hard for me to feel alone.” Concertgoers swayed back and forth to the melancholy currents spilling over the room and indulged in nostalgic, sepia-toned memories of a faraway home.
Throughout the show, the audience pulsated to the palpable emotions conjured by the grooving guitars, soulful piano and rhythmic shakers; listening to Honne was like kickin’ it with Morpheus and Aphrodite, nursing a flask of ambrosia and letting that dam of pent-up feelings finally flow.
As Andy crooned the final song of the night, “All in the Value,” Honne brought back what they were all about: sexy bedside ballads juxtaposed with minimal stage presence. When the song neared its end, Andy unsheathed his guitar and unleashed a raw, masterful guitar solo to escort the crowd into blissful oblivion.
Everything missing from Honne’s stage presence was synthesized into a set of serenades that gave romantics a reason to dream in a world full of cynicism. They flaunted their rich inner worlds strictly through the music and lent a voice to the shy kids who weren’t afraid to dream about love but might’ve been afraid to say it. By the end, they had restored faith to the downtrodden and let the starry-eyed know it’s going to be one hell of a life.
Contact Kelvin Mak at [email protected].