It was a full house at Union Transfer on Saturday night as Philadelphia welcomed home Kurt Vile & The Violators for the last show of their U.S. tour. With strong openers and a career-spanning set list from the hometown hero, the night was jam-packed with stellar performances and a lot of love.
There’s an image of a couch and a heart on Vile’s now infamous Fishtown mural that reprises the line “There’s a place in my heart for all of my friends” from Wakin On A Pretty Daze’s “Goldtones” and that seemed to be the sentiment the Lansdowne native was going for during his set. An intangible sense of community could be felt between the crowd and the frontman, despite minimal verbal interaction. It was the clear the audience was well-versed in Kurt’s discography as they welcomed each eclectic twist and turn of the set list with claps and cheers. As Vile stood on the stage dressed in all white, surrounded by a hazy fog with a scaled-down version of the mural behind him and Technicolor lights bouncing around, the effect was similar to that of flying through the clouds during a sunset when the light cuts through just right – transcendent, magical and rare. Continue reading →
Nashville duo JEFF the Brotherhood raged through Kung Fu Necktie like a hurricane last night, leaving nothing but scorched eardrums and satiated fans in their wake. The show marked the first of a two-show mini-residency that continues tonight at 8 pm.
It was an epic night for JEFF fans, as the band—who for the past ten years has toured as a duo—debuted their expanded line-up for Philly, playing half their set as a two-piece, and half as a quartet. Early numbers were brash, rash, and frenzied, as the band tore through songs with abandon—while later ones were thick, heady, and dripping with psychedelics.
The brainchild of brothers Jake and Jamin Orrall, JEFF the Brotherhood came together 12 years ago in 2001, and gigged extensively before breaking through on the indie front in 2009. Early songs were released through their own Infinity Cat Recordings label; in 2011 they signed with Warner Bros. Records to release their seventh LP, Hypnotic Nights, produced by the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.
Both early and later tunes were represented last night, as the band took the stage without a setlist, responding to crowd input and their own whims. The first half of the set saw the brothers shredding through ragers like “Heavy Days” and “Noo Sixties”—Jamin’s beats providing a solid foundation for Jake’s wily guitar licks—as well as easygoing jammers like “Mellow Out.” Clad in all white, with unshakable focus, Jamin was the band’s beating heart, while the devilish Jake, dressed all in black, with long hair and a custom-built, three-string guitar, was its impish, mischievous soul.
For the second half of the set, JEFF expanded its line-up to include a second guitarist (a regular six-stringer) and a keyboardist, whose added power allowed them to tackle more complex numbers, like the motorik-turned-electropop grower “Wood Ox” and the sludgy, Weezer-meets-Nirvana-esque “Dark Energy.” Single “Sixpack” was an easy highlight, with its fist-pumping chorus of “oohs”—while older tune “Heavy Krishna” allowed for maximum psychedelic indulgence, both brothers rocking with abandon for the equally hyped-up crowd. We love JEFF as a two-piece, but last night they proved the brotherhood includes all those who believe.
JEFF the Brotherhood might have tore the (metaphorical) roof off KFN, but early sets from Brooklyn’s Hunters and Philly’s The Bad Doctors were likewise shred-tastic. Hunters blew through the space like a wildfire, front woman Isabel Almeida shrieking and flailing like a pink-haired Karen O.—while The Bad Doctors combined metal riffs and Matt McDermott’s schreechy, impassioned vocals with electronic, new wave grooves to surprising effect. We can’t wait to experience it all over again tonight!
JEFF the Brotherhood plays Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., tonight, May 17, with Hunters and Bad Side. The 21+ show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $15. More info can be found at the venue’s website.
It was quite the elegant affair at Union Transfer last night, and everyone and their mother was there (literally). Folksinger Sam Beam took the stage in a suit with slicked-back hair, followed by his band of 13 (yes, 13) who were all dressed to the nines. Backup singers in long black dresses, the horn section in dapper jackets – everyone looked ready to impress. Over the course of the 100 minute set, Iron & Wine played selections from more than 10 years of music to a very eager, if fickle, sold-out crowd.
Starting the show on an upbeat note, Iron & Wine’s horn section do-wopped and sashayed through the “The Desert Babbler” from April’s release, Ghost On Ghost. While older fans of Iron & Wine have brushed off the band’s more recent releases in favor of the beautiful melancholy that is Sam Beam’s solo work, it could not be denied that the group onstage was having a great time. The crowd, however, was reluctant to warm up until a few songs in. Continue reading →
It was billed as a hyper-rager, and it certainly did not disappoint – the March edition of Dave P‘s Making Time was a stacked triple-bill, with noisy Montreal synth rockers Doldrums, expressive R&B crooner Autre Ne Veut and Spanish dance-rock outfit Delorean.
After Doldrums’ colorful set involving puffy knit headwear and trashcan percussion, Autre Ne Veut took the stage to a tightly packed room. The project of Brooklyn’s Arthur Ashin played Philadelphia this winter on a reportedly sparsely-attended lineup at Johnny Brenda’s – a drag, since his intense style of performing both requires a crowd to vibe off of and deserves a crowd to take in. The teeming crew on the Voyeur main floor seemed like a just recompense, and Ashin strutted the front row, pumped his fist in the air from off the monitor, fell to his knees, made emotive faces and sang acrobatic vocal riffs. The three-piece band worked wonders on tracks from this year’s Anxiety - particularly “Ego Free Sex Free” and “Play by Play” – and while they didn’t venture particularly far from the album arrangements, Ashin’s stage presence elevated the songs to a whole other level.
While Autre Ne Veut confirmed the live reputation I’d been hearing so much about, Barcelona’s Delorean were a total surprise. The band makes sweetly shimmering synthpop, the sort of thing that typically-speaking sounds great coming out of headphones but falls flat in performance. Not these guys, though. Their onstage energy was massive, carrying hints of torch-bearers New Order and Erasure and contemporaries Hot Chip – artists that can make electronic pop work in a band context – and the riled-up crowd totally fed off of it. Points also for slaying the late 80s club nugget “Ride on Time” by Black Box. Check out photos of the night in the gallery above.
Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit headlined a sold-out Union Transfer on Saturday night, touring in support of their new LP Pedestrian Verse. With an impressive light show and an interactive rapport with the crowd (singer-guitarist Scott Hutchison asked the crowd to hold a G note en masse as they led into “Good Arms vs. Bad Arms”), the band raced through a 20-song setlist. Hutchinson performed “Scottish Winds” and “Poke” solo acoustic, while Canadian openers Wintersleep joined the band onstage for the closing song “The Loneliness and the Scream.” Check out scenes from the show in the photo gallery above and see the set list after the jump. Continue reading →
You can’t do a Restorations album justice listening to it just one way. When you hear one of the Philly punk band’s sprawling songs for the first time, it rushes over you like a waterfall, seeps into your ears, muddles every single one of your senses, and most likely leaves you breathless.
This band’s ability to generate a wall of sound is what made the generation of “grown-up” punks gravitate toward Restorations, building their reputation after the release of their self-titled LP in 2011. But close listeners of any Restorations song will pick up on more than just the overview, the surface. They’ll hold on to a subtle but notable guitar lick, a slamming bass note or a simple, poignant lyric that in turn gets stuck in your head for days.
This week’s release of LP2 will not disappoint long-time fans. The sophomore full-length not only crashes over the heads of listeners, but sweeps you away into the sea of complexity, maturity and the band’s full-blown ability to rock. They’re brand is much different from the fuzz rock phenomenon of today. The crispness and thoughtfulness behind each layer and effect are heightened under the direction of producer Jon Low, who mixed self-titled and produced Restorations’ last two 7-inch records. These also aren’t the loud-and-fast, two-minute bursts that often characterize a “punk song.” They’re sometimes slow and steady, with hills and valleys that still lead you somewhere very, very loud by then end. Continue reading →