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Invisible Familiars @ North Star Bar with The Retinas, Old Scratch and Eat Your Cigarettes.

February 3, 2015

1.29.15_NorthStar_InvisibleFamiliars_DarraghDandurand_17Text and images by Darragh Dandurand.

A soft snow gently fell on a quiet Poplar Street last Thursday night. With bowed heads and hunched shoulders, people hurried into North Star Bar to regain some sense of feeling in their numb limbs. After paying a cover fee and receiving a flowery ‘Thank You’ stamp on their inner wrists, they shed their winter coats, ordered a few beers and moved towards the stage.

Downingtown-based band Eat Your Cigarettes bounded on stage for a quick and heavy set. The self-described “noisy pink band from go fuck yourself town” played songs from their first album, Ejaculate, and had heads thrashing to their song “Bruce.”

Quickly growing up to be a Philly-favorite, The Retinas were next. As they finished setting up gear, murmurs spread through the crowd in anticipation. Unsurprisingly, their set caused a mini, mock “mosh pit,” albeit made of two, very enthusiastic fans. Lead singer and guitarist Jake Joseph stamped his feet and screamed into the mic like a pro while the other band members kept it cool on stage.

Brooklyn’s Invisible Familiars, named for a passage by Joseph Campbell, echoed through the small venue. Thursday’s show was part of their album release for 2015’s Disturbing WildlifeBandmates Jared Samuel, Jordyn Blakely and Noah Berman, spoke excitedly about playing in Philly for the first time before setting on stage.

Their sound – some blend of calm and collected scratchy ether and searing string synthetics – drew the audience slightly closer than they were at the start of the show. Their eclectic tastes and varied influences oozed throughout their music, as well as in their sense of fashion and individual stage presence.

Grinning ear-to-ear, the musicians of Old Scratch took over right around midnight as the last band of the show. They played almost for themselves, lost in each other’s vibe, as if they could be either on stage of in someone’s musty garage.

Old Scratch’s guitarist, Steve Kane, who promoted the show, explained that he is “dedicated to Philly’s music” and loves bringing bands from all over together just to see what happens. His largely instrumental set finished with few people standing around, but those that stayed on the cold night were heated with heavy metal.

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