Free at Noon Flashback: Deadfellow plays the lead in a postmodern rock drama

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Deadfellow | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Deadfellow’s Hayden Sammak is quite a character. Burgundy velvet-jacketed and long-bearded, the Philly local looked every bit the old-fashioned classic rock n roller this Free at Noon as he drawled sweet verses of love and California livin’ while retro, psychadelic sounds bounced about.

But something just didn’t fit with this picture-perfect 60’s throwback. And if you’ve ever read an interview with the Deadfellow frontman, this disconnect makes perfect sense. Because despite the shiny exterior of Deadfellow’s latest album, Mescalifornia: A California Dream, the intent seems to be more sarcastic and critical in nature; where Hammak harps on a present-day shallow culture towards love.

Take the set’s opening song, “Miss California.” With a completely catchy and dramatically grandiose arrangement, Sammak sang in melancholy for Miss California to “never change” — as if quickly scrawling a hurried yearbook signature.

After a bit of breeziness, the tunes were traded in for heavy crunchiness with songs “Black on Cherry” and “Machine” as industrial guitars booted out the West Coast strums; then playing out the performance with some new tracks from the upcoming, tentatively titled Millennials in Love (and Other Pre-Apocalyptic Standards). 

Of these, the closing, “In 10 Millennia From Now,” sounded like a sad and sarcastic farewell to all of humankind. A farewell that would find Sammak and crew not at World Cafe Live, but in a hazy dive bar — playing to an empty room in their nonchalant, caustic acceptance as the world literally implodes outside. Like I said, quite a character.

If you want to unpack Deadfellow’s live shows for yourself, they’ll be back with their sunny, cynical tunes at World Cafe Live for the Philly Music and Arts Festival on September 23rd; get your tix for that here. Then, they’ll also be at Underground Arts on October 27th for a cool lineup of Hezekiah Jones and Ali Wadsworth. Check out info on that here, and peruse photos from the Free at Noon below.

Setlist
Miss California
Emily, Don’t Change Your Mind
If Earthquakes Claimed LA
If Tomorrow Morning Never Comes
Black On Cherry
Machine
Lovers In the Mirror In the Dark
In 10 Millennia From Now

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