Philly instrumental improv trio Muscle Tough spent the afternoon downstairs at World Cafe Live to share what was possibly the most interesting Free At Noon concert I’ve seen in a while. I went in not knowing what to expect, and left having witnessed psychedelic robo funk, super heavy guitar and drum battles, and even jokey synchronized dance moves from guitarist Ross Bellenoit and bassist Jonathan Coleman. It was entertaining all across the board, and cheers of “When I say Muscle, you say Tough!” were prevalent throughout the entire forty-five minute set, just to remind the crowd that they were awesome.
Muscle Tough is comprised of Bellenoit on guitar and special effects, Joe Baldacci on drums, and Colman on bass. Their sound is diverse and funky and sometimes a little weird, but in the best way possible. Their improvisational skills allow them to both jam for minutes on end, composing grungy originals as they go, as well as add their own spin on classic pop hits. They released their debut EP, Greasin’ Up the Mediocrity Wheel in 2016, followed by the LP Magical Achievements, which was released last December.
The setlist for today included tracks like the laughs-inducing “Text Your Dad” and “The Albino Peacock,” among other improvised songs. While the band sticks mostly to their recorded catalog of songs, live performances always offer something different. However, they threw in a cover of Paula Cole’s “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone” and Brittany Spears’s “Toxic” to end the set.
You can catch Muscle Tough a few times this fall, including local dates on August 26th at Ardmore Music Hall (where they’ll play of a Fleetwood Mac tribute set) and September 7th in Phoenixville (where they play the Pickering Creek Inn). Full dates here; listen to the concert audio and check out a photo gallery below.
Text Your Dad
The Albino Peacock
Clear Your History
Where Have All the Cowboys Gone (Paula Cole cover)
Toxic (Brittany Spears cover)