Brooklyn disco / electronic ensemble Escort co-headlined the TLA on South Street last Wednesday night alongside retro-soul outfit (and XPN Fest alums) J.C. Brooks and the Uptown Sound. The latter has a new and very dance-oriented LP called Howl, while the former recently released its self-titled LP. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.
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.
When the rain hammered down at this summer’s XPoNential Music Festival, Nashville’s Kopecky Family Band retreated to their hotel pool with the Out of Town Films crew. This summer we saw their reverberant performance of “Are You Listening.” Today, the Out of Town gang released a “b-side” performance of the band’s single “Heartbeat.” Watch it below. XPN Welcomes Kopecky Family Band to The TLA on Saturday with Cheers Elephant; tickets and info here.
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
Former XPN artists to watch Haim have announced a U.S. tour that brings them to The TLA on May 14th. The sister trio broke through the buzz at the 2012 SXSW festival, taking the next year to tour across the States and Europe while recording a debut record that was released in September. Tickets go on sale Friday, November 22nd at Noon and will be available here. Watch their video for “The Wire” below.
XPN welcomes Polica to Union Transfer tonight. The Minneapolis achieved critical success following the release of their 2012 debut Give You the Ghost, spurred by singles “Dark Star” (which landed at #388 on last month’s 885 Greatest Songs of the New Millennium countdown) and “Wandering Star.” On their new record called Shulamith, Polica took their synth / bass / double drumset / vocal arrangements even deeper, creating an incredibly dark and heavy environment that verges on frightening at some points (while staying instantly catchy and intriguing). Tickets and information for tonight’s all-ages show with Marijuana Deathsquads can be found here. Watch the video for “Warrior Lord” below.
Local world / rock / hip hop collective Blayer Pointdujour & The Rockers Galore are set to open for Haitian kompa group T-Vice at The TLA on December 21st. The slot is somewhat of a milestone for Pointdujour, who says opening for T-Vice, one of the biggest kompa acts in the world, has brought his vision for the band full circle. Tickets and information are available here. Watch T-Vice perform live in Montreal below, followed by Blayer Pointdujour & The Rockers Galore performing “Dirty Kompa Party” at Kung Fu Necktie.