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Wooden Shjips, Bardo Pond and Creepoid @ Underground Arts.

November 18, 2013

BardoPondCS03Text and images by Chad Sims.

To look at brothers, and guitarists of Bardo Pond, John and Michael Gibbons, you would be forgiven to mistake them for blues lawyers. You know; middle-aged, rich, white guys  from the suburbs who only know first world problems yet feel the need to play “authentic” (uninspired) blues at the local sports bar. If only those guys played with the passion of the brothers Gibbons, then the music world would be a much better place.

The funny thing about Bardo Pond (above) is that they seemingly do many things that should make them a tragically unhip band: smoke machine, hippy-esque dancing, a flute. When you make incredible music, however, all those things can and are made to work. Unlike some bands, everything Bardo Pond does seems like a genuine expression of their unique music.

Bardo Pond has been around for a long time and has been releasing albums since at least the mid-90s. They are probably Philadelphia’s best kept musical secret but not for a lack of exposure. They were on Matador Records in the 90s at the same time as bands like Pavement, Spoon, Liz Phair and Guided By Voices but they never quite reached the same level of popularity as those bands. My best guess is that they were a little ahead of their time, as there are seemingly dozens of bands today that have now been influenced by their sound. That sound is rather difficult to describe. It is equal parts noise, shoegaze, dream pop, psychedelic, space music and million other things.

On Friday night, Bardo Pond reminded those gathered at Underground Arts of who they are with a rousing set, which feature music from their new album Peace on Venus.

A band that has clearly been influenced by Pond, was opening act Creepoid. Creepoid is another Philly band that makes noisy, psychedelic music, and I hope they keep going because this band is doing some seriously cool stuff.

Finally, we had San Francisco’s Wooden Shjips to close the show. Shjips are yet another psychedelic band but on a 60s throwback tip.

While Shjips were good live, their sound didn’t translate quite as well as on record. The subtle nuance and hypnotic nature of their record is broken somewhat by the volume of a live show, yet they were still enjoyable, had great projector visuals, and the crowd dug them.

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