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Girlpool, Pinegrove and More @ West Philly Retirement Home.

January 19, 2015

WPRC_0116Girlpool029Text and images by Rick Kauffman.

On Friday night, there was a tight little house show in West Philly featuring bands from New Jersey, New York and a couple of chicks straight from Los Angeles. They packed the narrow basement at the West Philly Retirement Home, named-so for the 25-year-old yet seasoned show-throwers who call the place home.

It was Leaky Soups opening for Battle Ave., O-Face, Pinegrove, Shannen Moser and Girlpool (above), the Philly transplants from LA, headlining the show.

Down in the basement, power cables crawled from surge protectors that powered amps and pedals and keyboards under a single lightbulb that with a proper slash of a whipped guitar would have left four-dozen or more people in the dark. They were packed in to every nook and cranny, lining the walls beside the musicians and kneeling in front just to get a glimpse of the performers.

Leaky Soups started. The band is fronted by Cullan Bonilla, whose soft but impactful vocals have a smooth melody and complement well the band’s folk-emo style of pop music. On the album, Bonilla plays the ukulele, but stuck to the electric guitar live with similar effects that the band’s albums bring.

Battle Ave. are an experimental indie rock outfit that tow the line between harmony and dissonance which singer Jesse Alexander really pours his whole soul into it.

O-Face, from upstate New York, really ripped. They’re currently recording an album with the former frontman of Algernon Cadwallader and it makes sense. They’re holding the same candle that AC did to 90s emo bands like Cap’n Jazz and Q and Not U. They play mathy indie rock with lots of instrumental breaks and they lay it down hard.

Pinegrove is a groovy math/indie rock group fronted by Evan Stephens Hall from Montclair, NJ who impressed with some technical song writing as well as catchy hooks that had local fans singing.

The amplified rock gave way to the crowd favorite Shannen Moser, receiving the almost speechless praise from Girlpool who came after, the two-piece acoustic duo from Berks County plunked down for a 10-minute set that was short and sweet. Their fundamental sense of song writing and two-person harmonies were a pleasure to the ear.

Headliners Girlpool completed the night. Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad have scheduled a cluster of shows in the city this month. Soon they’ll embark on a stint in Europe — first stopping off in the UK before playing gigs in Paris, France and later Germany — before returning to support label-mate Waxahatchee (Wichita Recordings) on a full-US tour that kicks off at Union Transfer April 8th. Much respect is due to the two ladies on guitar and bass with no drummer. They wowed with some twanged power chords and twin harmonies that are spoken, sung, shouted and screamed like bloody murder.

They have another show in Philly on February 3rd at PhilaMOCA. It’s already sold out.

  1. dfghj permalink
    January 19, 2015 12:01 pm

    cullan goes by ‘they’

    • Geo permalink
      January 19, 2015 12:17 pm

      Sorry. Didn’t know.

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