On Saturday night, time machines were proven to exist. And, no, I am not talking about our timelord from across the pond. The 1990s were alive and well at Union Transfer, with Luscious Jackson pumping out their dance and hip-hop-infused alterna-rock in their first concert in 14 years. Though they may be older and leaner as they return with three original members — Jill Cunniff, Gabby Glaser and Kate Schellenbach (Vivian Trimble hasn’t returned) — they have not lost sense of how to energize a crowd to dance and sing along. Philadelphia may have seemed an odd place for the New York-based band to relaunch, but Cunniff noted early on that Philly was chosen because it rocks and the city’s fans are so great. (And it doesn’t hurt that the band’s namesake is a ’60s- and ’70s-era 76ers player.)
For 19 songs and nearly 90 minutes, they certainly looked like they were at home as they played tracks from almost all of their releases, from 1993’s debut EP In Search of Manny to 2013’s Magic Hour. (They didn’t play anything from their kiddie-rock album Baby DJ, released earlier this month, despite the presence of children in the crowd.) Cunniff with her bass, Glaser with her guitar, and Schellenbach with her drums brought forth their unique rock concoction with such ease and grace that 20-year-old songs like “Daughters of the Kaos” have retained their electric eclecticism. With backing keys, guitar and percussion, as well as a DJ providing interstitial sounds, Luscious Jackson showed off how their new parts enhance the quality of the past. At no point was this more evident than when they invited a few male fans to dance on stage as they performed one of their best new tracks, “#1 Bum.” “City Song” and a mostly female on-stage dance party followed, bringing their opening set to a close.
And as the crowd chanted for Jill Cunniff to join her bandmates for the encore, which brought three more treats (including a welcome performance of 1993’s “Satellite”), the bond between band and audience was solidified as one that hasn’t lost any bounce in the aughts. Let’s hope Luscious Jackson continue to bring music to our ears, since Magic Hour and this concert prove they have a lot left to give us musically and aerobically.