Vita and The Woolf, Hemming bring it all home to Spruce Street Harbor Park

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Vita and the Woolf | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Vita and the Woolf | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Throughout the whole summer, Spruce Street Harbor Park has been holding their “Waterfront Sessions,” where they invite Philly’s best and brightest musicians to grace kicked-back audiences to an evening of delight and thoughtful music. The riverside grotto consisting of hammocks and hanging fluorescent lights features several attractions for all ages to enjoy, from pop-up beer gardens for the grown-ups to plenty of wide open areas for the kids to run around and catch a couple dozen Magikarps (I have to admit that I got a couple for myself as well.)

It’s an interesting change up to see these bands play in front of smiling children playing giant chess rather than in a packed basement or a dimly-lit bar. Last week’s crowd got an extra treat as both Vita and the Woolf and Hemming‘s show on the waterfront went on after being rescheduled from a couple weeks ago due to the rain.

Vita and the Woolf started off the evening with their first Philly show since returning from tour the night before, so the band was in fine form. Vocalist Jen Pague thanked everybody for coming before starting off their set with “Brett,” the first single from their upcoming album, Tunnels. The band, now joined by new guitar player Dane Galloway along with drummer Adam Shumski, continued with tracks from their previous record, Fang Song, such as the bombastic “Mary” and the driving “Diamond Halls.”

Pague and company also busted out a slick cover of Radiohead’s In Rainbows classic, “All I Need,” as well as still-unreleased songs such as “Super Ranger” and the brooding “Bury You,” which Pague performed solo. Their sound may be shifting gradually more electronic, but Vita and the Woolf still maintain what made them so special in the first place: pure talent and musicianship.

Hemming | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Hemming | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Pure talent and musicianship continued with Candice Martello’s Hemming project up next, filled out with a full band (Nick Fanelli, Justin Gorman, Pete Pieczynski, and Kyle Graham). Hemming’s set consisted of songs from their self-titled debut, released last year. Overall, it was a grand slam: indie-rock bangers such as “Hard On Myself” and “Home” were one hit after another, causing the audience to get up on their feet and move around.

After a few songs in, the band took a break, leaving Martello on stage to run through a solo version of the joyous “Some Of My Friends,” which she said “sounds a little cheesy being played with the full band.” There’s nothing wrong with a little cheese sometimes, especially when it hits you right in the gut. Hemming and the band recently recorded a session with Shaking Through, where they performed a new song, “All I Want,” which came as a perfect set closer. It shaped how far the band had come, and also where they are going.

Spruce Street Harbor Park Waterfront Sessions continue with Queen Of Jeans and Grubby Little Hands this Thursday, August 18th. Sun Ra Arkestra and Pow Pow will close out the concert series next week on the 25th. Hemming will be playing at The Fire on Saturday September 17th with Diet Cig, Amanda X, and The Obsessives. Vita and the Woolf will play Boot & Saddle on Thursday August 6th with Square Peg Round Hole and Mal Devisa. 

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