Really, a lineup this stacked could have packed a “proper venue” – say PhilaMOCA or The Fire or even Johnny Brenda’s. So you’ve got to admire the DIY convictions of the bands on the bill; for all the blog-world love that Waxahatchee and Swearin‘ have received, especially with the recent excitement surrounding the former’s fantastic new Cerulean Salt (out today on Don GIovanni Records), they remain down-to-earth, committed to their house-show roots, and brought the rock to the kids on their turf, kicking off tour at West Philly’s Golden Tea House on Friday night.
Of course if their performances on Friday are anything to go by, shows in quarters this close might be harder and harder to pull off. Waxahatchee’s headlining set was fierce and dynamic, mixing up pogo-dance ragers like “Coast to Coast” with mid tempo rumblers (“Hollow Bedroom”) and solitary heartbreaking numbers (“Blue Pt. II”). Frontwoman Katie Crutchfield took on guitar and vocal duties for most of the set, but passed off her six string with a bandmate at one point so she should belt out a punk rock take on Paul Simon’s “The Boy In The Bubble.” The cover was played with such bravado that, mark my words, anybody who sees this in Austin next week is going to flip their lid.
Swearin’, the band co-fronted by Crutchfield’s twin sister Allison, was also lively, playing a snappy scrappy set of poppy punk tunes. While the band was the most stationary of the evening – and it was such an enclosed space we can’t really fault them for that – the crowd moved enough to compensate. A crew of fans lining the brick wall at stage left jumped and screamed along, practically collapsing into guitarist Kyle Gilbride, who of course kept right on playing.
Opening the night were Radiator Hospital, the Brill Building garage pop outfit of Waxahatchee bassist Sam Cook-Parrot – whose gentle humor and quirky charisma put him somewhere in between Jonathan Richman and Daniel Johnston – and punk trio Cayetana, recent signees to Tiny Engines Records that we expect to hear much more from (just like everyone else on the bill) in the not-too-distant future.
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