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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Reuben and the Dark at World Cafe Live, Drive-By Truckers at Chameleon Club, Geology at Kung Fu Necktie and more

Photo by Lucia Graca
Photo by Lucia Graca

Reuben and the Dark return to play at World Cafe Live tonight. The Calgary band consists of Reuben Bullock, Shea Alain, Dillon Whitfield and Kaelen Ohm. Their debut album, Funeral Sky came out last month. The music is slow, with spiritual undertones, and follows the likes of Mumford and Sons. Watch the video for “Black Water” below. Get more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calender.   

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Portland art-pop ensemble Typhoon packed Johnny Brenda’s, and some people watched the show too

Typhoon20The obvious observation about Portland art-pop ensemble Typhoon is how many musicians are in it. Seriously, you can’t help but notice. Two full drumkits. A horn section. Xylophone and strings. Standard guitar-guitar-bass. The full tally was 13 members 11 members when the Portland band headlined Johnny Brenda‘s on Tuesday night of this week, split between eight onstage and five three (the strings and auxiliary percussion) in the venue’s balcony.

For whatever Typhoon’s instrumental excesses cut down on the venue’s capacity – and, as I’ll explain in a minute, it was a bit excessive – a sold-out crowd nevertheless managed to pack Johnny Brenda’s as well, grooving along to the band’s exhuberant and wandering compositions (and taking in the R.E.M.-esque tones of local opener Geology).

As tends to be the case, and as we’ve discussed before with other artists, the drawback to making music that’s densely layered and lushly arranged, is that it’s all the more difficult to play it live. Typhoon gives it a serious go by making its lineup so massive – and moments, like the quirky start-and-stop pop of “Young Fathers” from its recent third LP White Lighter, sounded larger than life.

Other points left me questioning whether there really needed to be that many players in the house. The two full-kit drummers, for instance. It’s not like one kit provided a main beat and the other did a poly-rhythmic counter response; for the most part, they sounded like they were doubling one another (and, frustratingly, seemed to be a half-beat off as the night wore on). The strings, the xylophone glockenspiel, the horns – none were in constant use (probably a good thing), but even so things felt cluttered. And not just spatially. So is consolidating and streamlining these various parts not an option here? Given their home base, you could (if you were feeling mean) label Typhoon a Portlandia sketch come to life; an exercise in deluded self-indulgence from a boho rat pack.

But to say that would be to disregard the utter joyfulness of its music, the uplifiting vibe this baker’s dozen crew of chipper musicians cultivates in a packed room – which may be packed partly because of all their gear, sure, but because of eager fans as well – and the energy it traded with the dancing, sweating, smiling audience was a treat to take in. Typhoon might be crowded, overwhelming, excessive, ridiculous; but if you let go and went with it, it was a tremendously positive ride.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Gracie at Johnny Brenda’s, The Wooden Sky at Kung Fu Necktie, ZZ Ward at World Cafe Live

Electronic chillwave/pop project Gracie plays Johnny Brenda’s tonight with Snowmine and Lockets.  The moniker of local guy Andrew Balasia, Gracie has been sweeping us up and into its hypnotic beats since the For Summer EP dropped last year.  Earlier this year Balasia took the project in a more experiemental and haunting direction with his Treehouse EP.  For the upcoming Bleeder full-length, however, Balasia returned to the pop vein of For Summer and released the seductively anthematic “Creature Pleaser” this past summer.  The 21+ show begins at at 9:00 p.m., more information is available here. Below, stream “Creature Pleaser” and download the name-your-own-price track from Gracie’s Bandcamp.

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Listen to “The Neighboring Sea,” the latest single from Geology

You might recognize the above Star Wars-reading fellow as Greg Jehenian, the convivial bassist we met in two of our Key Studio VIDEO Sessions: mewithoutYou‘s and Buried Beds‘. When he’s not busy with either of those acts, Jehenian also makes thoughtful, home-spun indie rock under the name Geology, and just last week released his latest EP, The Neighboring Sea. You can stream the percussive title track below, download the entire thing at Bandcamp, and keep tabs on Geology’s Facebook page for news of one of Jehenian’s irregularly scheduled live appearances.

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Geology at Kung Fu Necktie

Geology is the side project of Greg Jehanian, bassist for Philly group mewithoutYou. This indie-folk venture finds him exploring softer (yet not simpler territory). He layers slightly twangy guitar, banjo, and gentle lyrics to create a sound that comforts. It’s reminiscent of Wilco, whom he incidentally graciously covered on his July 2010 EP, Three Birds. Also appearing at tonight’s bill will be Utah indie-folk band Desert Noises and Philly-based brother/sister electro-synth-pop duo She Came Crashing. Geology performs with Desert Noises and She Came Crashing at Kung Fu Necktie at 8 p.m.; tickets to the 21+ show are $5.

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Philly Local Philes: Geology’s “Living Things”

GeologyWhen he’s not playing bass with hard-touring philosopunks mewithoutYou, Greg Jehanian indulges his dust-bowl rock leanings in Geology. The project’s recent EP, Three Birds, leads listeners on a tour of rustic American sounds with a fervent modern pulse; banjos and beats, textures reminiscent of early Sufjan Stevens, and a solid cover of Wilco’s “One By One.” Check out “Living Things” below, and catch one of Geology’s irregular appearances at Johnny Brenda’s on Wednesday, October 13th, with Ducarriganigan and Mitch Fiction.

Every Monday and Thursday at 2 p.m., Y-Rock On XPN’s John Vettese spotlights the best musicians from the Delaware Valley in the Philly Local Philes. You can listen to Y-Rock On XPN’s live online stream here.