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Bully @ The Church with Aye Nako.

November 17, 2017


Text by Mike DiGuilmi. Images by Ben Wong.

Escaping the frigid cold, attendees arrived at the First Unitarian Church Tuesday evening to see rock band of Nashville origins, Bully, and opening act, Aye Nako. Descending the concrete steps before providing their name in the corridor, ticket holders were welcomed into church’s intimate byob, grungy VIP-esq charm, which cannot be replicated sans basement.

Aye Nako (pronounced eye nuh-co) is a Brooklyn-based four-piece citing “homopop, queercore, punk, non-college rock, bullsh**,” as its genre on the band’s Facebook page.

Sheena McGrath on drums and Joe McCann on bass bring the tempo and underlying trajectory of Aye Nako’s set, allowing Jade Payne and Mars Ganito, who both play guitar and split vocals, to carry listeners through their punk catalogue.

“This next song is sad and angry,” said Mars, setting up the song “Nothing Nice” off of the band’s album, Silver Haze, which was released this past April.

Aye Nako carves its own space by traversing resonant, ever-dire issues and delving into queer and racial politics, all while layering their set with dissonant melodies and harmony.

Bully, comprised of Alicia Bognanno, Clayton Parker, and Reece Lazarus, kicked off their set with “Either Way” from their new album Losing, which was released on October 20th.

Following a quick, smooth, chord progression, Bognanno commanded the audience from the opening line, “I stayed up last night, I was tearin’ up in bed,” welcoming listeners into the world of Bully. A world of scabs, blood and unpaid dues was then expressed in their song “Brainfreeze,” off of their debut album Feels Like.

Navigating attendees through both albums, Bognanno roared through vignettes of her life, from breaking her sister’s arm in “Six,” and how breaking her own arm didn’t make them even, then tenderly delivering bouts of reflection in “Blame.”

“This is definitely our favorite venue in Philadelphia. This venue rules,” Bognanno expressed during a tuning break before recounting the other venues they’ve played while in town. Then, immediately, the band went into their song “Focused,” off of Losing.

Bognanno’s  voice swept through the basement of the church during the duration of the set, through heart-rendering soft moments and rasp-induced roars that invited attendees to participate in angry, cathartic release. This was most notably illustrated through their song “Trash,” off of their debut album, which culminated in the audience harmonizing Bagnanno’s chorus, “Feels like trash!” on loop like a collective mantra, while each person in the room rocked and swayed.

Bully closed their set proper with the final track off Losing, “Hate and Control,” and then without leaving the stage, tuned up for their encore.

“I can’t wait to go lay down on one of the pews and gather my thoughts,” said Bognanno before regaining the nights momentum with “Running,” off of Losing, which, attune to the set’s trend, had the entire basement harmonizing through chorus.

Bully closed the set and the night with “I Remember” off of Feels Like, which left the listeners in motion, a kinetic mass, until Bognanno’s hair-draped face closed the night, hanging the audience on familiarity, “I know everything that freaks you out, that makes you mad, that makes you melt.”  A knowing friend wrapped, which acted as a parting gift for the attendees for the cold world which awaited them up at ground level.

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