A hardcore show of friends at Lithuania’s album release party

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LIthuania | Photo by John Vettese
LIthuania | Photo by John Vettese

“What does everybody think,” Dominic Angellela asked Boot and Saddle last night. “Does Eric look like a member of Slipnot in that?”

“That” was a grey Dickies one-piece jumpsuit, and Eric Slick either did indeed look like a costumed nu-metaler last night at Lithuania‘s album release party – “Number 7!” says he. “Oh, you know their names?” says Dom – either that or possibly a gas station attendant.

Angellela on the other hand, was clad in a tie-died Lithuania t-shirt. Not his band’s shirt, mind you. A tie-died basketball shirt that fellow Philadelphia music dude Ron Gallo found while thrifting – he tweeted it at Angellela, who promptly asked him to purchase it. “The Grateful Dead sponsored Lithuania’s Olympic basketball team,” Angellela excitedly told me after the show. “How awesome is that?”

Sartorial choices aside, the show was really about two things – music and friendship. And maybe feeling comfortable enough in a room full of friends that you can goof on your bandmates’ outfits.

Lithuania’s Hardcore Friends LP is out on Lame-O Records this week, and it’s a rager. The record and project in general allows the two seasoned musicians at its forefront – dudes who have honed serious pop chops in DRGN King (Angelella) and Dr. Dog (Eric Slick) – to cut loose and rage the night away. It’s scuzzy, it’s noisy, there are moments of dissonance as the guys coax unbelievable feedback from their guitars and Ricardo Lagomasino bashes his drums into oblivion.

But then there are the terriffic hooks. “God In Two Persons,” which Slick takes lead on, opened the show with a bang. In “Place of No Tomorrow,” Angelella channels ennui and frustration into an uplifting anthem: “God this part of town is killing me / I need to breathe and see the place of no tomorrow.” The two guys’ voices are similar-ish, moreso than I realized before seeing them live, and as such they were great compliments to one another – as was their unbridled onstage presence. Very Japandroids, very JEFF, very badass.

Anomie | Photo by John Vettese
Rachel Browne of Field Mouse performed as Anomie | Photo by John Vettese

Opening the show were two equally high-energy bands: Anomie, a new project by Field Mouse’s Rachel Browne, which was only playing its third-ish show (first with Slick sitting in on bass) but it sounded remarkably fuzz poppy, with moments reminding me of Superchunk and Velocity Girl. Browne took the last two songs solo, and totally killed.

The surprise of the night was easily Year of Glad, a new-ish project featuring a bunch of great folks from the Philly basement scene. Mimi Gallagher of Nona does guitar and vocals, Chris Diehm of 1994! does bass and vocals, Mike Bell of the Movies fame is on second guitar alternating lead parts with Gallagher and Mike Harping of Good Luck drums. The band has a wicked fun Chumped / Weezer sound and they’re all ace players, and incredible at revving up the crowd. Their only release at the moment is this four-song EP, also on Lame-O, and I’m stoked to hear more.

All the bands on stage are obviously tight friends with one another – Slick playing joining the lineup of Anomie, Browne shouting out Gallagher as her set approached, Angellela and Slick keeping their project going from when they launched it as UArts undergrads a decade ago, Diehm telling me post-show that Year of Glad came together out of everybody living close by one another in West Philly.

But the friendship very obviously stretched offstage as well; Craig Almquist of Cold Fronts was rocking out in the front row during Lithuania’s set (Angellela plays with them sometimes), Lucy Stone of DRGN King was there alongside him. Other musicians and music scene peeps could be spotted filling out the room, including members of Hurry and mewithoutYou.

When Browne jokingly introduced her solo encore by saying “I’m doing these last two songs by myself, so if you need to text or something, you can do it outside,” the response was pretty awesome. Nobody left the room, and everybody stayed quiet and focused. You don’t do that unless there are people you really care about onstage, and it was clear last night that Boot and Saddle cared.

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