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Norwegian Arms, Scott Churchman, Laser Background and Circadian Rhythms @ PhilaMOCA.

March 11, 2013

NorwegianArms030913aText by Naveed Ahsan. Images by Rachel Barrish.

Friday night at PhilaMOCA was many things – the official launch party of music publishing company Houndstooth Entertainment, the album release of Scott Churchman’s evocative yet joyous Ignore That Noise, and the goodbye party for headliner’s Norwegian Arms before they make the trek down south to North Carolina and then SXSW.

As the raucous revelry began to unfold the lights quietly dimmed and a disco ball loomed over the throng of men and women waiting in anticipation for the show’s conception. And as an added touch, the film Back to the Future II was projected in the background forthwith.

The atmosphere made me feel as if I’ve been sucked into a time machine and transported back three decades ago. Almost how Marty must have felt when he drove Doc’s Delorean back to 1955.

Circadian02Circadian01LaserBackground030913aScottChruchman030913bThe show began with the jazz and indie inspired foursome Circadian Rhythms (right), whose name seems fitting with their innumerable chord and rhythm changes. The rich harmony intertwined with layers of guitar and trumpet and steady rhythm in songs such as “Miles Away” and “Aperture” sent the audience into head bopping and hip shaking mode.

Psych pop band Laser Background followed with their neo-psychedelia set which brings to mind the sonic experimentalism music that once flourished in the 1960s. Lead singer Andy Molholt casually shifted from his melodious and dexterous voice to the buzzing noise of a kazoo which was simultaneously infused with Pink Floyd-like distortion, all the while the drummer coolly backs the four piece; switching back and forth from percussion to the xylophone.

The second half of the night segued into Scott Churchman, who was greeted by a warm audience as he celebrated the release of his third compilation. The sparse and minimalistic quality of Churchman’s guitar was enhanced with his baritone voice, sending the venue into a very ethereal and dreamy atmosphere which also proved to be a very haunting soundtrack to the beginning of Back to the Future III.

Three hours later, the long awaited show headliners, Norwegian Arms, finally came on to the stage around the stroke of midnight.

The eastern-influenced weirdo folk trio brought the jam packed show to the ground, first belting into their feverishly catchy sing along “Pu-Erh” off their debut LP Wolf like a Stray Dog.

As the band began to find their groove, already-inebriated Brendan Muhvihill nonchalantly asked the crowd during a break if anyone could provide him with a beer.

Then, they catapulted into classic tunes such as “At the Formerly British Council Supported English Centre” and “Wolf Like a Stray Dog.”

Muhvihil’s mandolin plucking, backed by drummer Michael Chadwick (Eric Slick of Dr. Dog is the usual Norwegian Arms percussionist but he was unavailable) and Andy Molholt on synthesizer, blended together seamlessly which set the audience in a frenzy as they culminated their set with the euphoric “Jitterbug”.

Three hours of music provided by four Philly-based bands, backed by two Back to the Future movies. The only thing missing was some popcorn.

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