Key Fest At-A-Glance, Part Two: A folk / rock ramble with The Lawsuits, Rosu Lup and Dylan Jane

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The Lawsuits | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
The Lawsuits | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

While Thursday night starts out Key Fest with a indie / punk bang, Friday opens it up into something more spacious with a night of expansive, Americana-tinged folk / roots / rock and roll. Continuing our series of preview rundowns for this first-ever Key-curated celebration of local music, today we’ll take a closer look at the three artists joining us for the second night at MilkBoy.

Friday, April 24th – Roots / folk / rock

The Lawsuits are many things. They do Americana, for sure, and that’s where their creative headspace was at when they first got our attention with the very twanged-out Hot Love EP. But it would be a mistake to view The Lawsuits of 2015 as a bunch of alt-country dudes (and one dudette). 2013’s Cool Cool Cool showed what they were capable of in a broader sense, bringing in tinges of quirky Beatles-esque psychedelia and an anthemic rock-and-roll underbelly. Last year’s followup EP, Tumbled, flexed their versatility even further, reaching out into dreamy pop and soul territory. I mean, “Sweet Marcelle” could be a freakin’ Hall and Oates song. (I’ve actually used it in a DJ set to follow up “Sara Smile,” and yeah, it works pretty well.) Of course we’ll still have the acoustic guitars and foot-stomping furor, and the vibe at MilkBoy will be one that Folk Fest regulars will be able to get behind. But the ambitions of the band, and its lead songwriter Brian Dale Allen Strouse, are clearly ever-expanding. The band has been teasing new material on social media this week, and they’re due for another release this year, so for fans of the ‘Suits, this set will be a treat.

Rosu Lup can turn on a dime, sounding tiny, introverted and intimate just before launching into a swelling, thrilling build-up. The band is a folk trio at its core, but augmented by strings and horns and other players in a live setting, it becomes a sort of mini-orchestra, adapting the songwriting of frontman Josh Marsh into arrangements that go big. When I saw them at World Cafe Live earlier this year, I talked about how their music “[imbued] tragedy with beauty in an explosive catharsis.” Don’t misunderstand – these aren’t Arcade Fire-level end-of-the-world blowouts and they’re all the better for it. Instead of taking emotion to a level of ostentatiousness, Rosu Lup cretaes grounded epics for the common man – and as their current single “Hem” shows, they’ve got a lot more of those up their sleeve.

Dylan Jane is one of the more compelling voices we’ve seen emerge from the singer-songwriter scene in recent years. Her singing is hushed and focused, but seeped in emotion. Her lyrics address big concerns like love and betrayal, life and death, but she’s at the same time warm and approachable. She’s got great taste, too – from her cover of “God’s Away on Business” by Tom Waits to her own songs that evoke Lifted-era Bright Eyes. Originally hailing from NEPA (Dupont, a small town between Scranton and Wilkes-Barre), Jane is establishing a foothold into the Philly scene with help from local collaborators Phil D’Agostino, Matt Muir and Brad Hinton. We’re thrilled to have her join us for Key Fest.

Key Fest Night Two takes place at MilkBoy, 1100 Chestnut Street, on Friday, April 24th. Doors for the 21+ show are at 8 p.m., tickets are available now, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Read Part One of our Key Fest preview series here and Part Three here.

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