Watch The Districts cover Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” on New Year’s Eve

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The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The Districts sent 2017 packing this week with two sold-out nights at Johnny Brenda’s, ringing in the New Year last night with a high-energy rager that included pirates, Jello shots and a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s classic “Dancing In The Dark.”

The song appeared in the setlist on both nights of the stint, but the energy last night was kind of unreal. The bold, uninhibited vocal style frontman Rob Grote embraced on The Districts’ recent Popular Manipulations — one of The Key’s best albums of 2017 — works incredibly well when applied to the songwriting of The Boss, and the revved-up party crowd was totally receptive to that energy.

Plus, with this performance, The Districts join The War on Drugs in a rich tradition of Philly bands covering Springsteen at Johnny Brenda’s on New Year’s. Watch a video of the cover below.

The two nights were, in total, a blast. Excellent openers for both — the Archers of Loaf-styled slow punk of Permanent Body along with the amped up rock and roll of Mannequin Pussy on Saturday night, with the surreal psych pop of Pine Barons and a rare appearance from power trio Lithuania last night.

The Districts’ setlist had variety from night to night; a focus on Popular Manipulations and 2015’s A Flourish and a Spoil was at the core, but there were surprises — like the first performance of “Call Box” from 2012’s Telephone in I don’t know how long, as well as an untitled new song that bodes well for album number four, whenever that makes its way into the universe. Both nights, the band played with a surplus of raw power; you could tell they’re used to playing bigger venues on tour at this point, just by the amount of perilous physical space each of The Districts occupied on the tiny Johnny Brenda’s stage.

As for the stroke-of-midnight spectacle — it was one of the most visually entertaining of the various Johnny Brenda’s NYE gigs I’ve seen, even if the performance got a pretty sloppy during that ten minute stretch. You can hardly blame them, though; with an actor playing Jack Sparrow joined by a couple Pirates of the Caribbean-esque cohorts leading the countdown, and Paul “Jello Man” Vile providing the revelers with free Jello shots pulled from a giant cardboard sign where plastic cups spelled the band’s name, chaos kind of ruled the stage at this point.

But the band got things back together in time for a pummeling performance of “Young Blood” from Flourish, punctuated by a classic Grote stage dive / crowd surf moment; they shut the night down and welcomed 2018 in with an encore of “Long Distance” from Telephone. Their next area appearance is January 18 at The Queen Theater in Wilmington; tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Check out photos, the setlists and the band’s tour dates below.

Permanent Body | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Permanent Body | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Mannequin Pussy | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Mannequin Pussy | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Pine Barons | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Pine Barons | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Lithuania | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Lithuania | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
The Districts | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Setlist Night One
If Before I Wake
4th and Roebling
The Point
Bold
Fat Kiddo
Salt
Dancing In The Dark
Chlorine
Long Distance
Violet
Ordinary Day

Encore:
Young Blood

Setlist Night Two
Chlorine
4th and Roebling
If Before I Wake
Bold
Salt
New Song
Dancing In The Dark
Violet
Call Box
Funeral Beds
Ordinary Day
Tiny Dancer (with Captain Jack Sparrow / Jello Man)
Roadhouse Blues (with Captain Jack Sparrow / Jello Man)
Young Blood

Encore:
Long Distance

Tour Dates
Jan 18 – The Queen – Wilmington, DE
Jan 19 – Columbus Theatre – Providence, RI
Jan 27 – Ottobar – Baltimore, MD
Feb 23 – White Eagle Hall – Jersey City, NJ
Mar 01 – Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival – Okeechobee, FL
Mar 16 – Village Theatre – Davenport, IA
Mar 20 – Rialto Theatre – Bozeman, MT
Mar 21 – Treefort Music Fest – Boise, ID
Mar 24 – Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
Mar 26 – Bluebird Theater – Denver, CO
Mar 28 – The Ready Room – St Louis, MO
Mar 29 – Growlers – Memphis, TN
Mar 30 – The Basement East – East Nashville, TN
Mar 31 – Georgia Theatre – Athens, GA
Apr 02 – Motorco Music Hall – Durham, NC
Apr 03 – Capital Ale House Music Hall – Richmond, VA
Apr 04 – 123 Pleasant Street – Morgantown, WV
Apr 06 – Newport Music Hall – Columbus, OH
Apr 07 – The Loft – Lansing, MI
Jun 02 – Victoria Park – London, UK

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