Text and images by Brianna Spause.
Two young pop groups took a light jog through Philadelphia this weekend, bringing the heat to the TLA with them. The air was as dense as the crowd that crammed in to get a view of The Colourist and Echosmith’s sold out show on Saturday.
Feet were shuffling as soon as Maya Tuttle laid out the first beats on the drums, finding a dancing crowd to feed The Colourist’s energetic on-stage collaboration to. The California-based pop band puts out an electronic sound that survives the leap out of the studio and onto the stage. The smooth vocals of singer/guitarist Adam Castilla carry their catchy tunes such as popular single, “Little Games.”
There hasn’t been any new music since last March with the release of their self-titled album, but that is subject to change. On their blog, The Colourist is teasing new music in the next few days.
A charmed young audience was receptive to the cue of the music – to dance. Between sets, stage lights cast long shadows that slid around the legs of the crowd and illustrated restless movement. Chants of “Ech-O-Smith” echoed the baseline as the lights came up on a family affair. Echosmith brings an infectious chemistry to the table, fueled by the deep-rooted musical connection between siblings. Grahm (16), Sydney (17), Noah (19) and Jamie Sierota (21) burst onto the scene with their platinum hit “Cool Kids,” which soared to #13 on the Billboard top 100. Also off of the 2013 Talking Dreams album, the single “Bright” has made it back on the books with a music video released early in February.
With eight more sold out shows on their North American tour, the Sierotas are making moves that have landed Echosmith on VH1 and MTV’s “Artists to Watch” lists. Having developed together as musicians is evident in the way the band performs live, following through in each measure with a precise execution. Very clean melodies are executed as vocalist, Sydney commands the stage with confidence lit up like fire in her eyes. The young artist moves without inhibition, bringing to life the magnetic music infused with a little West Coast sunshine.
Text and images by Kevin Cook.
“This is the best fucking city in the entire world,” said Oliver “Twist” Feighan, half the Philadelphia born and raised hip hop duo, OCD: Moosh & Twist.
“215 till the day I die/Said it once and ill say it again,” rapped DeQuincy “Moosh” Coleman McRae during the duo’s performance of “Hometown” on Friday at the TLA.
“One day we gon’ make it rappin’,” followed Twist. “Philly blood in my soul dog but show the whole world we gon’ make it happen.”
Friends since they met in first grade, Moosh & Twist performed tracks such as “How We Do,” “Take Me Back” and “Unstoppable.”
As the duo spit their interesting lyrics, they frequently left the stage to perform inches away from the crowd. The hundreds of people in the packed venue mirrored their enthusiasm.
Ground Up, a hip-hop trio that resides in Philadelphia, opened for M&T. Mixing eccentric wordplay with interesting sounds (like the horn on “Let’s Ride”), MC’s Azar and Malakai kept the crowd jumping.
Major Van Winkle opened.
The show gave fans a great mixture of Philadelphia’s unique hip-hop scene.
GrassROOTS Community Foundation’s “Let’s Move It: Philly!” Party @ Trilogy with Black Thought, Jazzy Jeff and More.
On the third floor of Trilogy Nightclub, overlooking a snow-covered city and a skyline shrouded in fog, fans of Philly hip-hop “partied with a purpose” at a benefit for the GrassROOTS Community Foundation last Saturday evening. Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Rich Medina and special guests entertained the crowd at The 5th annual “Let’s Move It: Philly!” party.
GrassROOTS Community Foundation specifically focuses its work on young girls in Philadelphia.
“We have these four areas of wellness that we value and do our work around,” said Dr. Janice Johnson Dias, president of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation. “Physical health, mental health, sexual health and the economics of health. We do work with girls, their families and within communities, and we want to change policies and practices.”
As co-founder of the GrassROOTS Community Foundation, Trotter has played an integral role from the beginning.
“This was the brainchild of a good friend of mine and I felt that the work that she was doing was important,” Trotter said. “We both have daughters that [are] close in age. The cause spoke to me, so I rose to the calling.”
In Hearts Wake, on the road from Byron Bay, Australia, kicked the night off with a hard-hitting metalcore set that had the crowd off its feet.
68 followed with a high energy hardcore set reminiscent of vocalist and guitarist Josh Scogin’s previous projects, Norma Jean and The Chariot, which he acknowledged with a sticker on the back of his guitar that read “Proud to be an The Chariot.”
Screaming into a microphone way too short for him, Scogin faced the lone other band member, drummer Michael McClellan, and responded to crowd requests for Slayer and “Free Bird” by telling them that he wasn’t a real guitarist and couldn’t play those songs.
Being As An Ocean took the stage next, ratcheting the emotion in the room up a notch, promoting their recent album, How We Both Wondrously Perish. The crowd could be heard yelling along to songs from both of the band’s releases and vocalist Joel Quartuccio threw the microphone into the crowd, apologizing after for doing so because he forgot it wasn’t his in the moment.
Fans went wild when Quartuccio left the barrier to move around in the crowd during Being an an Ocean’s last song, “This Loneliness Won’t Be the Death of Me.” Amidst the chaos, guitarist Tyler Ross managed to split the body of his guitar in half before handing it into the crowd.
The Amity Affliction was welcomed onstage with a chant of “Am-i-ty” before launching into a crowd pleasing set packed with songs from their 2014 release, Let the Ocean Take Me. The entire crowd seemed to be into the band, who brought their photographer onstage to celebrate his thirtieth birthday to crude jokes and off-key singing.
Stick to Your Guns came out to huge cheers, immediately ordering the crowd to start moving. Promoting their new album, Disobedient, vocalist Jesse Barnett encouraged fans to crowdsurf to the front and sing with him, apologizing for the barrier, saying it wasn’t the “most ideal situation.”
In the midst of crowdsurfing and circle pits, Barnett slowed things down with an acoustic version of “We Still Believe.” He encouraged everyone to stand by and work for what they believe. After their final song, “Against Them All,” he thanked the crowd for coming out and told everyone to take care of each other.
Stick to Your Guns received encore chants but did not come back out.
Text and images by Tyler Horst.
A stalwart few braved the cold and snow on Saturday to spend the evening at Milkboy, and were duly rewarded with an eclectic show featuring Rene Lopez (above).
Taking the stage early in the night was Tomás Pagán Mottá, a singer-songwriter from Washington DC. Using just his voice and an acoustic guitar, with the occasional addition of harmonica, Mottá filled the small upstairs room with some gentle, folksy tunes. His songwriting inspired by the likes of Elliot Smith and Bob Dylan, Mottá shifted easily between full voice and a high falsetto, swinging sweeping melodies over cascading chord progressions.
“I feel like I’m playing the mellow beginning to a funky after-party,” Mottá readily admitted.
That after-party was provided by Rene Lopez and his eight-piece band. Coming from New York City, Lopez and the band quickly warmed everyone up with an energetic mix of funk and Latin soul. Clearly a seasoned group of players, the band was tight even though Lopez announced it was their drummer’s first gig with the rest of the band.
Saxophone, guitar and bass laid down some funky lines over an intricate array of percussion. During a few songs Lopez abandoned the microphone to pick up an extra set of drumsticks, laying into a set of snares and cowbell to transform a soulful number into a flurry of interweaving Latin rhythms.
The band charmed the small crowd and Lopez encouraged everyone to move forward. By the end of the night, the snow was forgotten and the crowd used the extra room to move and dance.
Text and images by Rick Kauffman.
Ruby the Hatchet have very subtly been putting on kick-ass shows in Philadelphia that just recently have culminated in a bloody New Years Eve banger and a Friday the 13th album release show that saw the band perform their sophomore release, Valley of the Snake, in its entirety.
For those who didn’t grab the vinyl early, the album final drops today.
Through six tracks, the quintet, whose members, save for one, all live together on the wrong side of the Ben Franklin Bridge, offer another example of how Philadelphia, far and wide, has talent across all genre.
Women in particular have had a growing platform in this city that offers new and emerging positions in leading roles with new and progressive sounds. Jillian Taylor, leading lady and vocalist for Ruby the Hatchet, found a unique opportunity to help craft an original sound.
“Women have this witchy quality that men can’t really convey,” Taylor said. “With heavy music, too. It cuts more if you have a higher voice … at least in our genre, I think. That’s why you see a lot of women, because it works really well.”
Text and images by Tyler Horst.
Sunday night is just as good as any night to party. The decked-out upstairs space at Johnny Brenda’s filled with a steadily growing crowd over the course of the evening for some very feel-good music from Paper Route (above), Royal Tongues and Upperfields.
First up was local band Upperfields, a folk band with pop sensibilities and an ear for harmonies. The songs were mellow but with a distinctly upbeat feel. Guitarists Shaun Gold and Justin Nawn’s sweeping combined with the soulful, resonant bass of Lee Clarke created a rich sound. For the final number, Gold and Nawn encouraged the crowd to join in the harmonies of the song.
Taking things to a more energetic place was Royal Tongues. Only on their eighth show as a band, Royal Tongues wowed the audience with their well-crafted and fun brand of dance-rock. With a driving rhythm section, poppy synths and some sharp, disco-esque guitar lines, Royal Tongues pushed many to tap their feet and dance. With such confidence and skill, Royal Tongues seemed a much older band.
“You’re such a beautiful crowd, can we take a picture of you?” asked singer Aaron Bonus toward the end of the set. The drummer climbed atop his seat and snagged a photo of the delighted crowd.
Closing out the evening was Paper Route. The room had filled out considerably since the beginning of the night, and the band was grateful.
“Thank you for braving the snow and the Oscars to come see us tonight,” said J.T. Daly.
Paper Route launched into a set of anthemic rock songs with heavy additions of electronica. The sparkling synths and expansive guitar riffs provided space for Daly’s soaring vocals. Many of the songs featured lifting melodies with vulnerable lyrics, suggesting a sort of guarded optimism, like watching the sun come out after a rain shower. Others were more straight-up dance tracks, owing more to synth-pop and ’80s new wave.
Even though things didn’t wrap up until around midnight, the audience still demanded an encore … and got one.