Archive for the ‘Johnny Brenda’s’ Category

[ATTENDED: February 4, 2020] Seratones

I first heard of Seratones on a Tiny Desk Concert back in 2016.  I was really impressed at how great they were.

When they announced a show at Johnny Brenda’s I knew I’d want to see them.  And they did not disappoint.

Their new album Power is a bit more soul and a little less rocking than their debut, but when they played it live, it totally rocked.

I watched the band set up their gear.  Singer A.J. Hayes was not wearing the big red skirt as she did so.  After they were all set up, they stepped away and then came back right at 9.

They opened with a wave of synths from Tyran Coker as Hayes showed off her amazing voice.  It was like the coolest warm up a vocalist could do as she sang “like a heart attack” slowly and in different pitches until she signaled to drummer Jesse Gabriel that the song was ready to start.  And with those clicks, “Heart Attack” rocked out.  I loved that they allowed for some serious jamming in this song.

On the record the song is 3 minutes, but this version included a little drum solo and a lengthy keyboard solo while Hayes yelped and rocked out up front.   It got everyone moving. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 4, 2020] The Dull Blue Lights

The Dull Blue Lights are yet another Philly band that I’d never heard of.

I’m always curious about the logistics of touring.  Like, when does a band wind up using local bands as opening acts instead of having someone tour around with them?  And how do they pick a local band in each town?

Well, whoever did their research did it very well because The Dull Blue Lights were an absolutely perfect opening act for Seratones and they were absolutely fantastic.

The Lights describe their music as “Basement Soul” which is a perfect summary of the kind of music they play.  It has a Soul feel (with a fantastic organ sound) but a nice gritty guitar and vocal component that makes it different from pure soul.

Generally, their songs had great riffs from singer/guitarist Todd Fausnacht.  But there were also multiple sections of the songs that made the more than one-dimensional.   Fausnacht also had a cool yelping falsetto that he could employ whenever he needed.

But what really sold me right away was the way the first song, “A Faint Whisper,” seemed like it was one thing (kind of an old-school rocker) and then the chorus turned into something much smoother before rocking out again. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 27, 2020] Illiterate Light

S. and I saw Illiterate Light open for The Head and the Heart back in October.  We were really impressed by them–their power (especially for just two people), their intensity, and their overall sense of fun.  In fact, because of annoying crowd people around me, I enjoyed Illiterate Light more than TH&TH.

I knew that they would be really great to see when they were the headline act, so when they announced a show at Johnny Brenda’s, I quickly got us both a ticket.

The band is a duo with Jeff Gorman on guitar and bass pedals (and what a huge difference those bass pedals make) and Jake Cochran on drums (and dancing).  The dancing is important because unlike most drummers, Cochran plays his drum kit standing up.  This allows him a lot of mobility–he wanders the stage, hangs out with Gorman and hits cymbals from all angles.

We couldn’t help but notice that there were several camera dudes all around the stage.  They told us that they’d be filming this show for some kind of upcoming something or other.  I’m looking forward to seeing it (we’re bound to be in it).  Although there was SO MUCH FOG (which is why my pictures are so hazy) that I have to wonder how good their video will be.

The guys came out and set up their gear (I was amused at how much more stuff Cochran had–I guess since his floor tom is removable?).  Although when Gorman brought in his foot pedals (a cool Moog device) he raised it over his head to much applause. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: January 27, 2020] Camp Howard

This was S’s first time at Johnny Brenda’s and we had to decide between floor and balcony.  We chose floor and it was pretty cool being so close to the band.  Although in the middle of this set a big gaggle of bros came in and started hugging each other and talking.  It was nice that they were so friendly and happy to see each other, but I didn’t need that right in front of me.  So after a couple of songs we moved over a bit (to a location I rather prefer anyway).

I’m always torn about the balcony there because the balcony is amazing, but I so much prefer to be in the thick of it (even if I complain that I’m too short).

Camp Howard is a four-piece from Richmond, VA.

They seemed to have a pretty big following at this show (although I’d never heard of them before). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 29, 2019] Philly Music Fest

For those counting, this makes four concerts in four nights, which is frankly insane (and thanks to my poor wife who tolerates such excesses).

But the whole reason I wanted to go this evening was to see Man Man (more in their own post).

But, in fact, the entire Philly Music Fest was pretty fantastic.  I would have certainly gone to three of the four nights if I could have.  This little festival is a testament to the amazing music that Philadelphia is producing, and they didn’t even include two of my favorite Philly bands, Mannequin Pussy and Control Top.

The first night I actually didn’t know any of the bands.

  • Wednesday 9/25 at Milkboy (a venue I haven’t been to yet)
  • Secret American
  • Sixteen Jackies
  • Ceramic Animal

The second night was an amazing line up! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 7, 2019] Fontaines D.C.

I had heard of Fontaines D.C. from NPR.  They raved about the band’s live show.   I was pretty exited to get to see them in a small place like Johnny Brenda’s.  Then I was really quite surprised that they sold out.  I feel like a lot of times bands that I think have a lot of buzz either don’t or don’t have it in Philly.

But it was sold out and the crowd knew the band really well (much better than I did).

When Pottery went off stage, the floor cleared out a bit and I got a great spot right up front.

Then they turned on these awful blue lights.  Was that the band’s decision?  Why were they like that for the whole show?  Who thought that wa sa good look for anyone?  But I didn’t really care because I was ready to hear this legendary (already) band.

They are an interesting band to be sure.  Many (but not all) of their songs are fast.  But all of their songs feature lead vocalist Grian Chatten speak-singing ala Art Brut but with a Dublin accent.  On stage Chatten is something of a caged tiger, walking around grabbing the mic stand, lurching, looking distracted or pissed off.  And then he bursts out his vocals.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 7, 2019] Pottery

After cutting it so close last night for the Joanna Newsom show, I made sure to leave plenty early for this sold out show.

A few months ago, Route 95 was closed at Girard Avenue.  For TWO YEARS.

So the ease of getting to Johnny Brenda’s has been removed.  They are also doing a lot of other road constructions in the neighborhood.  Which meant it was impossible to find a parking space.  I drove around for nearly 30 minutes before finding a spot in a neighborhood I’ve ever been to before. By the time I arrived for the show, Pottery had already started.  I don’t know how much I missed, but I am bummed I did because e I really enjoyed them a lot.  [Judging by other setlists, I suspect I walked in during the first song, but I’m not sure].

Nevertheless, I did get to hear a solid 30 minutes of their set. (more…)

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