Wussy, Josh Olmstead Band and Bastards of Earle @ MilkBoy.
A band’s first gig is always a special occasion, and on a rainy Thursday night at MilkBoy Philly last week, Bastards of Earle hit the ground running and didn’t look back.
The Philadelphia band – headed by Todd Zamostien on vocals and guitar along with guitarist Hank Foreman and the solid rhythm section of bassist and drummer Brett and Bart Riley – have yet to release any music. But if their live debut was any indication of their studio sound, they’ll be just fine.
Looking sharp and stylish on stage, Zamostien got the crowd of mostly friends and family to “come a little closer” and with a “let’s do this,” kicked off the set with a driving rock number. A mix of vintage and modern rock sounds, Bastards of Earle’s set grooved from beginning to end.
It was easy to tell the band was having a blast at their first show and played the narrow upstairs venue as if it were an arena. Between songs, Zamostien stopped to tune his guitar.
“I’m beating this baby up pretty good,” he said. “In some states, that’s illegal.”
Songs like “Downtown Girl,” a song that could easily be heard blasting from the stereo of a 70s Corvette, were well received by the crowd and after a few more tunes, the band ended with a sloppy, yet determined, cover of The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.”
Following Bastards of Earle was The Josh Olmstead Band, fronted by singer-songwriter Josh Olmstead who claimed it was really only his band’s second show.
A very soulful and groove-centered band, The Josh Olmstead Band played a number of winding and twisting rock songs with Olmstead banging his head and sending his long hair flying during the instrumental bits.
With minimal stage banter, the band’s main focus was on the music. Thanking the crowd for coming out on a Thursday night, Olmstead said,“We’re just the warm up act, the smoke and mirrors for Wussy.”
After The Josh Olmstead Band debuted a new song “Fun Again,” Todd Zamostien was brought back on stage, beer in hand, for some help on the “oohs” and “aahs,” along with a little vocal participation garnered from the audience.
With lots of plaid, tattoos and facial hair, it was easy to label headliners Wussy as an alternative twang band without even hearing a note of their music. But the band defied those preconceptions by kicking off their set with an intense and atmospheric rock number.
A self-identified “psychedelic Midwestern drone” band, Wussy confidently blended effects-laden guitars, pounding drums and bass, swirling lap steel and layered vocals to create a sense of spaced-out Americana blending elements of 90s alternative with classic and progressive rock undertones.
Wussy remained uplifting and carefree throughout their set while holding a heavy focus on playing and making great sounds. Dual vocalists and guitarists Chuck Cleaver and Lisa Walker, whose guitar was covered in stickers, fed off of each other, going into epic interludes of soaring guitar sounds and layered vocals.
The Ohio five-piece band filled up the small stage and owned every inch of it while always making sure the crowd was having a great time.
Between telling jokes and keeping a fun family atmosphere, the members of Wussy were very appreciative of the audience being there.
“We love Philly,” Walker said. “Thanks for hanging around.”
During one song in the set, Wussy was being FaceTimed by a member of the audience. After the song, Walker yelled out, “We were being FaceTimed! Someone was looking at me from a phone. Thanks for beaming us out via satellite.”
Wussy’s fifth full-length album, Attica!, is set for release on May 6th.