Skip to content

Communion Philadelphia @ Underground Arts, with Tutlie, Jessica Hernandez, Katie Frank, Dirty Dollhouse and More.

June 9, 2014

Tutlie @ Underground Arts_060514_IMG_7866Text by Kyle Bagenstose. Images by Jason Melcher.

The Brits might be on to something here.

Philadelphia was treated to its first Communion of summer 2014 last Thursday as the artist showcase returned to Underground Arts after a successful debut season last year.

Started at London’s Notting Hill Arts Club in the summer of ’06, Communion showcases have spread to dozens of cities in multiple continents, bringing together rising artists from both host cities and far-off locales. For Philly last week, that meant a rapid-fire night featuring six bands, including local folks Katie Frank and the Pheromones, Tutlie (above) and Dirty Dollhouse

It was the latter that kicked things off for the night, as lead vocalist Chelsea Mitchell took to stage clad in a red dress and cowgirl boots, an acoustic guitar slung over her shoulder. Joined by back-up vocalists Vanessa Winters (of the Lawsuits) and Amber Twait, Mitchell took the audience of several dozen through a folksy, seven-song set. The highlight of the performance was “Anna Lee,” a song that invoked imagery of snow covered fields and porch-hanging in the summertime to pay homage to Pennsylvania, receiving a healthy applause of the audience.

Next up was Detroit soul-rock outfit Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas. Returning to the city for the second time in as many months, lead singer Hernandez took the crowd, which had hustled into UA’s main room as soon as Dollhouse’s set finished, on the usual ride through the unique, gypsy-esque sounds of the six-piece outfit. The performance landed the band perhaps the most raucous applause of the night until local favorites Tutlie closed.

Hernandez was even lauded by Katie Frank and her Pher0mones, who played third and had the growing crowd rushing back into the side room. At this point it became clear the night was dedicated to leading ladies, as Frank’s vocals and acoustic strumming once again took center stage.

The Temple therapeutic recreation grad-turned-singer worked her own kind of magic, keeping the set decidedly up-tempo, to the appreciation of the crowd. Backed by a pair of electric guitarists in Kevin Killen and Josh Werblun, as well as drummer Jon McNally and bassist Joe Bisirri, Frank’s music filled the space with plenty of noise, flirting with elements of rock, Americana, and even a little country.

Frank either left the stage without much adieu or it was drowned out by the quick shuffling of the now 50-strong crowd to return back to the main performance area (which, by the way, was serving up $4 Sly Foxes as part of a last minute conversion to Philly Beer Week event). There they were greeted by Catfish and the Bottlemen, a decidedly different band than the first three sets. Dressed in all black ‘erything (including instruments), the four-man rock outfit from Llandudno, North Wales, cranked up the amplitude.

Cast in ominous red lights, the band had a traditional hard rock sound, and graciously thanked the hosting crowd after almost every song. Most of what frontman Van McCann said was lost in a thick accent, except for an obligatory nod to grabbing the band’s first cheesesteaks earlier in the day.

Next up on the bill was the Provo, Utah based Desert Noises, another four-man band who brought a squarely indie rock sound to Arts’ side stage. While tinges of Local Natives and Fleet Foxes can be heard in the band’s recorded music, Desert Noises displayed a much more pop-rock sound live, using a conventional four-piece setup to deliver an energetic and catchy set the kept the crowd moving around as Communion neared midnight.

However, the night belonged to the closing Tutlie. Formed in 2011 but fresh off the release of their first LP, Young Cries, earlier this year, the band features the interweaving vocals of Rebecca Way and Jessie Radlow. Accurately described by many outlets as “chamber-pop,” Tutlie uses a pair of soaring synthesizers, tambourines, and a trumpet– on top of guitar, bass and drums– to achieve an orchestral, whimsical sound.

Paired with truly mesmerizing visuals of tripped out old cartoons, Tutlie took the crowd on a journey, ending the night on a high note as both a trumpet and trombone blared on stage, backed by pounding drums and textured vocals. The hometown crowd showed their appreciation audibly after Tutlie managed to successful cap a 3-plus-hour showcase.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: