Underground Arts hosted a packed crowd on Friday night with headlining act Mac DeMarco, who was touring behind his recently released second LP Salad Days. The laid-back, dreamy album caught the ears of many and it certainly showed as Underground Arts was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. Mac Demarco has a swoonworthy and chill persona – baseball cap on his head and a cigarette in-between his fingers – and he performed a killer set of stoner love songs. With many longtime fans in the audience, folks sang along to the cuts like “Ode to Viceroy” and “Freaking Out in the Neighborhood” from his prior record 2. Opening act Laser Background used a megaphone and dreamy electric melodies to warm up the audience just right. And Juan Wauters had a stellar backdrop of various flags sewn together, incorporated with flickering light bulbs and Christmas lights throughout the entire set. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.
If you are into psychedelia or really any kind of experimental music, this is a must go to show. Bad Braids will be opening the show with some hauntingly powerful acoustic-based songs, followed by the sometimes spacy, sometimes video game soundtrack-sounding tunes of Laser Background.
Son Step will be prepping for this show with the arrival of new band member Joel Gleiser (Modern Inventors), and word on the street is they’ll have some new songs to share. In the meantime, check out their existing collection on Bandcamp. Banned Books closes out the night with their truly unique racket of multiple instruments and sounds. Check out the mayhem they create below and get tickets to the gig here. ($10, 21+)
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, our trusted reporter Kate Bracaglia talks Philly tunes.
Living in Philadelphia, I’m always blown away by how many amazing artists there are right in our back yard, crafting tunes capable of filling many, many carefully curated playlists. 2013 was no exception. There were so many great songs released this year that picking just five was really tough. And so—in support of all the unsigned and DIY bands out there—I limited myself to tunes that were self-released or on small indie labels (sorry Kurt Vile/Man Man/Purling Hiss). These are bands you might not have heard of yet, but who are very capable of becoming new faves. Happy 2013!
5. Laser Background, “Disappearing Ink”
The first tune off Laser Background’s first full-length, Super Future Montage, teems with lush vocal layers, wiggly guitar lines, and Andy Molholt’s nasally vocals. Molholt tells John Vettese the record was inspired by childhood, Roald Dahl books, and imagination, a combo that apparently yields breezy, summertime pop.
Indie rock singer-songwriter Kevin Devine plays Union Transfer tonight. Devine put out two new records last month on his own label, showing two distinct sides to himself - Bubblegum is an amped-up rock and roll collection, while Bulldozer comes from a singer-songwriter direction. Tickets and information can be found here. Watch the video for “Bubblegum” below.
It was kind of like a psychedelic party Wednesday night at Johnny Brenda’s between the lively and idiosyncratic Darwin Deez, the groovy downbeat Brooklyn combo Caged Animals, and Philly’s own Laser Background, who were celebrating the release of their LP Super Future Montage (read more here). Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.
Andy Molholt will forgive you if you say that his new record – the first full-length from Laser Background – is kind of confusing and bizarre. He’ll even forgive you if you tell him, as I did, that it freaks the hell out of you. (Molholt’s response: “Good!”)
Super Future Montage, out yesterday on La Société Expéditionnaire, runs a huge and somewhat perlexing sonic gamut. Beginning with a breezy pop opener, “Disappearing Ink,” it leads to moments that are confrontational and chaotic, excruciating and annoying, but travel ultimately back to pop. You’ll hear shrill high-pitched keyboard noises and demented vocal processing horror, but also snappy tempos and gentle psychedelic melodies. You’ll also notice the numerous references to cotton candy, marshmallow, toffee, chocolate, gumdrops, over and over across the 14-track record.
Listening to it feels, at moments, like you’re watching an upset child arrive home from trick or treating, stuff their face full of sweets and lapse into a hyperactive sugar-rush fit.
Actually, the childhood thing isn’t too far off the mark. A good first step to understanding Super Future Montage is by looking at the cover of Laser Background’s self-titled debut EP: it’s Molholt’s actual second grade class portrait in front of the coveted, inexplicably more expensive trippy backdrop. Imagine that the person singing all these songs is that kid, young and gentle-eyed and trusting but a little bit guarded, rather than Andy the artist you see in the photo at the top of this story. (Hat-tip to my wife Maureen for that analogy.)
A second step is by talking to Molholt himself about it. “As I’m becoming older, I realize that the most important time in anybody’s life is your early childhood,” he said over dim sum and smoothies at New Harmony last night. “That’s your formation. Everything that happens to you at that age, it soaks in and that’s you. It crafts you.”