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And So I Watch You From Afar, TTNG and Mylets @ The Church.

November 21, 2013

ASIWYFA_002Text and images by Rick Kauffman.

The church was blessed Saturday night with the beautiful sounds of math rock from an ocean away.

During the course of a seven-week trek, the Sargent House labelmates of TTNG (formerly This Town Needs Guns) from Oxford, England, And So I Watch You From Afar from Belfast, Northern Ireland and the solo act Mylets (Henry Kohen) from Indiana toured tirelessly around the continental United States only to end it in the City of Brotherly Love.

The show, for fans and the bands alike, was a night to remember.

First, TTNG took the stage opening with the track “Chinchilla” from their 2009 album Animals. Singer / bass guitarist Henry Tremain became a full time member in 2011 after previous singer Stuart Smith split. In his place, Tremain and the brothers Tim and Chris Collis reformed the group into a three-piece for their 2013 album, in which they followed their opener with the album’s first single “Cat Fantastic.”

Tremain’s delicate vocals and basslines are intricately syncopated to the tap-heavy style of Collis’ guitar work which features asymmetrical time structures. Forgoing much pedal distortion, the instrumentation is open, pure and  rides heavy on melody.

In honor of Kohen from Mylets’ birthday, he joined TTNG on and sang the song “Adventure, Anger, Stamina” with funky gyrations and nothing but pure glee.

TTNG finished their set with an acoustic version of “26 is Dancier Than 4.” Once taking a seat, Tremain looked out into the crowd and asked very kindly that the crowd take a seat on the church floor, and they obliged. A delicate sing-along gave way to raucous applause as their set came to a bittersweet end.

ASIWYFA came out blasting and dried those tears quickly with a fierce rendition of “Eunoia” and “Big Thinks Do Remarkable” from their newest album All Hail Bright Futures. As TTNG brought their show down a notch to end, ASIWYFA upped the ante tenfold. On tape, their riffy math-rock is heavily groove oriented, and live they’re way more aggressive than one could have imagined.

Their track “Gang (starting never stopping)” has a break with lots of trebly guitars climbing scales while the bass line fails to be the focal point. Live, however, that bass chug was a headbanger’s delight.

Later in the set, a particularly memorable rendition of “Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate,” an appropriately titled track in which all of the tour band members packed the stage the same as the pack their touring van between stops. On stage, Tremain, the Collis brothers, Kohen and the four members of ASIWYFA filled every inch, creating a sonically fulfilling tribal medley. They were having as much fun on stage as the crowd had watching them.

Tremain and Collis took turns crowd surfing, while guitarist Rory Friers cut into the crowd with his guitar. Encircled by a crowd of screaming fans, a crowdsurfer nearly found her unfortunate end by riding right into the open circle and on top of Friers mid-song. The momentary halt in his guitar playing was unsettling to the ear, but quickly recovering he popped up laughing hysterically and finished the set. At the behest of the crowd, the band played two final, skipping the agony of an encore and played until there was nothing to play any more.

The Church rocked its walls like it hasn’t been done in a long time. It was a fitting fairly to a group of gentlemen from across the Atlantic who tour and write tirelessly simply out of the sheer love and devotion of creating music for fans around the world. Philadelphia sent them off right.

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