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Communion Philly @ Milkboy with Dan Mangan, Jessica Hernandez, Pine Barons and Foxtrot & The Get Down.

June 8, 2015

JessicaHernandezCommunion01Text by Kyle Bagenstose. Images by Rachel Del Sordo.

Communion Philly, the local chapter of an international music organization that presents showcases of divergent bands in cities across the U.S. And U.K., lived up to its name at Milkboy last Wednesday night. There were bands from near and far, playing music fast and slow, to a crowd that was young and old. And almost all were drinking.

The night kicked off with a pair of local acts: First, Northeast Philly’s Foxtrot & The Get Down, followed by the cheekily-named South Jersey outfit Pine Barons. Intentional or not, it was a great way to set the schedule for the evening, as both bands brought a slew of enthusiastic fans that provided an atmosphere more suited for a Saturday night than mid-week rut.

A five-piece band that sports a pair of electric guitars, tambourine shaking, and alternating male and female vocals, Foxtrot kicked things off with a high-energy, bluesy rock set. The sound fell somewhere between the dirty blues of Little Hurricane and retro-rock of JD McPherson. Foxtrot hit their high note in the third song, “If I Had it My Way,” which featured pounding drums behind the slide-guitar work and growling vocals of frontman Colin Budny. The promising rockers also delivered a crowd-pleasing cover of the Gorillaz’ “Sunshine in a Bag,” with co-vocalist Erica Ruiz not missing a word on the rhymes.

Next up was the boys from South Jersey, Pine Barons. Sneaking in elements of psychedelia, particularly in the interludes, the four-piece band delivered a set that alternated pop-punk and jam sesh. At times, bits of surf rock even came through, which when combined with the four-part vocal harmonizing on a number of songs, actually did make it quite easy to imagine watching Pine Barons strum away by campfire down the shore.

Expanding the line-up’s geographic reach was Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, a 6-piece rock & soul band from Detroit. Fronted by leadwoman Hernandez’ powerful vocals and backed by trombone and keys, in addition to the usual suspects, the high-energy outfit finally got the vanguard of the Milkboy dancing with a 10-song set. Inhibitions also seemed to give way during the set, with Hernandez ditching her pants’ suspenders (“I’m getting some crazy camel toe”) and receiving some booze (“Can somebody please get me a shot of Fireball?”).

True to the Communion spirit, members of all three bands became part of the audience during the closing set of Dan Mangan + Blackmsith. The Vancouver-based Mangan has been wowing our neighbors to the north as an indie-folk solo artist for more than a decade, but added three full-time band members (and the +Blacksmith) on his latest LP, Club Meds. Those gentleman backed Mangan’s throaty-vocals and acoustic strumming during their set Wednesday night, delivering a sound that will likely please fans of Bowerbirds and The Decemberists.

Upon completion of Mangan’s set, Milkboy-goers had been treated to more than three and half hours of high-energy music from across the continent, making June’s Communion showcase a steal of a night at $8 bucks.

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