You say goodbye, I say hello. Cheers Elephant, who have traded in the urban landscapes for greener west coast pastures, had a bit of a homecoming Friday night at Union Transfer. Welcoming all manner of friends and family (I think that most of the audience was on the guest list), the indie psych-rockers brought back a bunch of energy and sunshine with them. While L.A. may be kind to them, there is nothing quite like going in to that bar where everybody knows your name. While they may have been absent for a while, the real star of the double bill was another local group: Toy Soldiers.
Saying goodbye (for now, anyhow. Ask The Dismemberment Plan how long any group with strong ties to their hometown can really stay away) Ron Gallo, Dominic Billett, Bill McCloskey, Matt Kelly and Luke Leidy, brought on a slew of special guests to help them celebrate. Local heroes for the better part of a decade, with numerous awards and accolades to back up the claims, the blues/country/alt rockers kicked off the night covering the perennial Semisonic hit “Closing Time” before settling in to their extensive catalogue. Sprinkling in a healthy dose of dry wit, Ron and friends made it clear that they were not leaving Philly behind, but rather focusing on projects that will, hopefully, help expand the local music scene, including launching a record label.
Philadelphia via Baltimore hiphop artist Spank Rock (aka Naeem Juwan) will be playing Underground Arts this Saturday. Last year, Spank Rock teamed up with longtime collaborator Amanda Black for their club track “We Can Go All Night”. He also played alongside the Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra and Sharon Van Etten at the Rail Park Benefit at Union Transfer. He recently released another single, “Gully” which promptly got remixed by Brodinski. In addition he made a mixtape for Jump Philly with DJ Sylo. Listen to the remix of “Gully” below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Philly-born, Cali-based rock n’ rollers Cheers Elephant headlines Union Transfer tonight with Toy Soldiers, who are playing their farewell show. Self-described as a “Chew it up, Spit it out, Rock and Roll” type of band, Cheers Elephant relocated from Philadelphia to Southern California late last year. Read their impressions of their new digs in Maura Filoromo’s interview here, check out the music video for “Doin’ It, Right” below and find more information and tickets on the XPN Concert Calendar.
Surf. Sand. Warm weather year-round. Does the West Coast feel like paradise? For Cheers Elephant, the answer is definitely yes. Southern California is now home to the formerly Philly-based band.
Cheers Elephant formed in 2007 and built up quite a name for themselves in the local Philly scene. As the years went on, they started booking more shows and doing larger tours. Earlier this year, the band made the cross-country jump to California.
So why did they leave? Moving was something they always knew would happen, The band describes themselves as outdoorsy people, so the environment of California was fitting. Signing with a management company based in L.A, and having a few girlfriends locate west, they all agreed it was the right time to move.
Thus far, the band loves the Californian laid back vibes, and they have been keeping busy with writing and planning shows.
Besides weather, there are definitely differences in the way people interact and the music scene. “Philly is more tightly knit. We were good friends with a lot of bands. It was a close-knit community. L.A. is all sprawled out,” said bass player Matt Rothstein. They haven’t really discovered the music scene of Southern California or if there even is one.
They may have moved almost 3000 miles away last year to be in sunny Los Angeles, but Cheers Elephant were born and bred in Philadelphia and we still love them. They make it easy to do so with their infectious indie pop / rock, like on the lead track “Peoples” off of their 2012 LP Like Wind Blows Fire. The breezy, sixties leaning song now has a new lyric video, debuted on The Wall Street Journal‘s website today ahead of the band’s 12-set stop at SXSW this week. The video sticks block letter lyrics over footage from an east coast tour, showing both the band and the crowds dancing and having fun. Check it out below and stay tuned for a follow up to Like Wind Blows Fire in the near future.
Before relocating to sunny California, Cheers Elephant met up with Out of Town Films to film a few songs and bring their time in Philadelphia to a close. Surrounded by piles of books inside Fishtown’s Bookspace, the locally-born indie pop / rock four-piece played a new song called “Airliner” to start off the set, and you can watch the video of the performance below. In lieu of upcoming local show dates, listen back to Cheers Elephant’s 2012 Free at Noon performance here.
Last night, Philadelphia’s packed TLA became THE place to be. Period. Combine Cheers Elephant’s quirky upbeat pop sounds with the Kopecky Family Band’s beautiful orchestration and incredibly well-written songs, and you’ve got yourself a winning ticket. It would not be hyperbole to say that these two groups truly have it all: charm, stage presence and most importantly, killer music.
While they hail from Nashville, the Kopecky Family Band feels at home in Philly, frontman Gabe Simon making small talk with crowd members as he and the rest of the band prepared the stage. Opening their set with “The Glow” and moving into “Howlin’ at the Moon,” drummer David Krohn kept things driving and locked in, making for an energetic and strong start. They then played one of my personal favorites, “Birds,” which starts with a delightfully airy and ebullient melody on the glockenspiel and, as guitars, bass, vocals and drums are added, only gets edgier. Bassist Corey Oxendine along with the groups bespectacled frontman took up their trombones towards the end of “My Way,” the gradually intensifying tune that concludes with a passionate delivery of lyrics and the crowd’s shouting of “na-na-nas”.
Roughly a third of the way into their set, the group performed their most popular tune, “Heartbeat,” a song to which nearly every person in the room knew the lyrics, or at the very least was dancing. Midway through the performance, the volume and tempo were brought down with “Change,” whose heartwarming harmonies shared by Simon and front-woman Kelsey Kopecky and delicate guitar strumming made emotion accumulate in the audience as a whole. Not two songs later, however, did they elevate the energy once more with “Wandering Eyes,”,a song appropriately prefaced by Simon, “We’re going to take you down south”.
Though Cheers Elephant was billed as the opening band, it’s hard to say that they truly were one. This was their last show as Philadelphia residents, and they plan to move to California this winter. While I can’t say they stole the show, I can say they were deserving of being a headliner, and I’ve never witnessed a band having more fun onstage than Cheers Elephant. They opened their hour-long set with “Peoples,” during the chorus of which the already-packed audience sung along, “I wanna groove when I wanna wanna groove, yeah!” And groove they did. They then paid homage to their hometown with “6th and Girard.” (I’ll admit that I got emotional when frontman Derek Krzywicki sang the lyric, “Under a Philadelphia sun.”)
Despite some guitar trouble, the group pushed through “Doin’ It Right,” and if anything, the technical difficulties added to the grit of it all. I’m a sucker for “Party On Darwin,” and to my surprise, the audience in its entirety was on cue with the opening lyric, “Hey yo! Let me wash your windshield!”. Of course, “Leaves” was a highlight of the set, and proved that a group that writes some of the best indie-pop out there can perform just about as well as anyone. Between Kryzwicki bouncing around and doing the running-man and drummer Robert Kingsly, who had gotten engaged in the green room just before the show, putting on his best Dave Grohl, I don’t think there’s a group that performs with more cheerfully quirky flare than this one. Cheers Elephant, Philly is going to miss you.
There comes a time in many bands’ lives when a change in scenery—whether temporary or permanent—becomes necessary in order to further one’s creative vision. The Beatles famously journeyed to India before composing The White Album, and Sun Ra moved his entire Arkestra from NYC to Philly before creating Space Is the Place.
And so it goes for Cheers Elephant, locally born-and-raised, who this winter will move to California—as a band—for new opportunities, new inspiration, and a new perspective on life. We caught up with the dudes of CE at one of their favorite places: Victory Brewing in Downingtown. The band’s roots lie in the Chester County borough as well, and the brewing facility is situated in the same complex as their longtime practice space at Downingtown School of Rock. Many a night involved a hike across the parking lot to jam after sharing a round, or vice versa.
It’s been eight years since Cheers Elephant came together, and since then they’ve grown tremendously—from a bunch of kids drinking variety packs in bassist Matt Rothstein’s parents’ basement (the name Cheers Elephant originated in one such session, when singer/guitarist Derek Krzywicki said it jokingly with a French accent)—to a polished, high-energy rock quartet, with a solid following, impressive tour schedule, and regular air play on local radio. They’ve become a close-knit unit who can goof off while touring the Victory hops cellar (see above!) but still churn out tight pop songs like “Doin’ It, Right.”
“We’re all basically like a family,” says guitarist Jordan del Rosario
Ali Wadsworth is not a new voice in Philly by any means, but she’ll be releasing her debut solo LP at Ruba Club tonight. The celebration will be an incredible one: a cocktail hour, sets by Auctioneer, Thom McCarthy and Divers and a “super top secret party band” will surround the centerpiece performance by Wadsworth and her band. Before striking out on her own, Wadsworth was a member of Unlikely Cowboy with Good Old War’s Dan Schwartz, Goldiebox with her sister Claire and Philly super-group Fantasy Square Garden. The new album, recorded by Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man), features songs written for Wadsworth by her friends and fellow musicians. Tickets and information for the all-night party can be found on the Facebook event page. Watch Wadsworth perform “Still Not Over You” at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology below.
The new video out of Cheers Elephant‘s camp features the title track to their 2012 LP Like Wind Blows Fire. Vocalist / guitarist Jordan del Rosario created the animated clip, which shows the local rock band driving in a van as they pass palm trees, cowboys, Native Americans and some iconic wild west critters between trippy paisley frames. Like Wind Blows Fire is posted on Cheers Elephant’s Bandcamp as a free download, and the four-piece will be playing the 6th annual River City Festival at Fishtown’s Penn Treaty Park this Saturday, October 5th. Watch the video below and get the album here.