On Monday, September 30th, we were thrilled by the crowd packed into Kansas City’s recordBar to enjoy an evening of music by Noah Gundersen. Quite honestly, weeknights in Kansas City are difficult to draw fans out for, especially with our weather being so unpredictable. But the night was beautiful, and the music was absolutely enthralling.
Packed to the brim, there was an excitement in the air as we pushed through the doors on that beautiful autumn night. Couples in droves, though largely we noticed how wide Gundersen’s audience is, as there was no obvious demographic. Young, old(er), couples, single people rocking out, people in all types of outfits and moods. It was probably the most intense melting pot we have been a part of in a while, and it was thrilling.
As soon as the first chords of “Robin Williams” came from the speakers, the entire crowd was captivated. As you can view in some of the following photographs, the audience was respectful of the ambience of each song, making sure to slow down and engage on a different level with songs such as “Heavy Metals”, “Watermelon”, and “Bad Desire”. And we truly can’t blame them. Noah does an amazing job at making each person feel as though they are the only one in the room, both with the emotion in his vocals, his intense gazes into the audience, and his inventive and beautiful musicianship. But he didn’t stop there, and the setup’s light display was actually mesmerizing as well. We can only imagine how intricate a show in a less intimate venue would be, and we can’t wait to see him come back through town.
Out of Time
Send the Rain (To Everyone)
Kamikaze (with Lemolo)
All My Friends
Keep up with Noah Gundersen here.
Loop pedal and guitarist goddess Sidney Gish
just began a month-long, coast-to-coast U.S tour, and this past Friday she was emphatically received by a full house in the City of Brotherly Love. The 14-song set was the perfect length, given the relative brevity of Gish’s indie rock/blues infused jams. A majority of the setlist were numbers from her 2017 album No Dogs Allowed, with a healthy mix from slightly earlier 2017 album Ed Buys Houses, as well as a classic Talking Heads cover thrown in the mix.
Accompanied by opening group Another Michael, Gish played the PhilaMOCA
, whose ambiance is a welcoming cross between a large house show space and a small theatre. It is comprised of one large room, its l walls plastered with posters from past events, and lined neatly by a carpeted second floor balcony, wrapped in twinkle lights that provide a comfortable dim. Upstairs on the balcony, worn-looking sofas and easy chairs were inhabited by cozy-looking people. The entire vibe was ideal for Gish’s set, which demands rapt attention to her rapid fire lyricism, as well as the rhymes she drops like flies.
Gish’s self-conscious sense of humor was both immediately endearing and a lovely show of levity; as she addressed the crowd with quips like “I love to tune instruments, I really do!” Throughout her time on stage, sometimes in the middle of songs, she’d check the inside of her wrist for her handwritten set list. Gish’s stage presence is an act in itself, because though she seems cheerily nervous, her jokes land – and that’s hardly to mention that her musical consistency remains solid and unflappable.
The singer-songwriter opened with deeper cuts, then filed into her more commercially popular songs as the night went on. First was “Mouth Log”, followed by “I’m Filled With Steak, and Cannot Dance”, both from No Dogs Allowed. The latter track is a prime example of excellent vocal control in sliding, perhaps even cascading, down waterfall runs that smoothly drop you off only a few feet from where they picked you up. Plucked harmonics and a perpetuating bongo on loop punctuate this track, and breezily perforate any tension found in the room.
The next three tracks Gish played were all gems mined from No Dogs Allowed: “Good Magicians”, “Impostor Syndrome”, and “I Eat Salads Now”. Always with meticulously intentionality, Gish grants herself plenty of room to play in the spaces between spiteful and vulnerable, dynamic and gentle, raspy and fluttery. Her fingers flying on the jazzy riff within “Impostors Syndrome”, she seamlessly shifts from demanding attention to turning it away. Gish launches her inward-facing observations up into the hall, open confessions to everyone.
In the moments following the fading applause, Gish chirped cheeky narrations to the crowd, her eyes cast down as she set up her guitar: “I play it on this capo, normally.” She looked up and giggled: “Information for no one.” The next song, “Friday Night Placebo”, is a tribute to her gifts of sarcasm and satire, bubbling along a guitar tone that is deep, ringing, and somehow nautical. Lyrically, this track is reflective of fragility and vulnerability – but only on the surface. Gish’s sardonicism cuts to the core, as she chides, “It’s fine, I’ll pop sugar pills all night.”
After a cover of Talking Heads staple “This Must Be The Place”, Gish hit the crowd with three of her most popular tracks: The clicky “Sophisticated Space”, mesmerizing “Rat of the City”, and communal “Homecoming Serf”. An augmented vocal presence is a marker for these tracks, as the singer’s rasp (no doubt a parallel for her indignation toward mundane suburban life) continues to escalate among the captivating vocal melodies.
Next up from Gish’s repertoire were three of my personal favorites in immediate succession: “Sin Triangle” and “Persephone” from No Dogs Allowed, and “Presumably Dead Arm” off of Ed Buys Houses. “Sin Triangle” is arguably Gish’s grooviest track, and would fit quite comfortably on a party playlist; unlike “Persephone” and “Presumably Dead Arm”, which are reflective and thought provoking; each one a cure-all for listeners’ varying feelings of being misunderstood. That said, all three were fascinating to experience visually: The building anticipation in the room was tangible as Gish built the loop tracks for each song, riff by riff.
The last song of the night was “If Not For You, Bunny,” and though sonically, its recording crystallizes seamlessly with the rest of No Dogs Allowed, Gish used it to cast an undeniably punk spell upon the crowd in Philadelphia. Murky, crunchy guitar distortion and the wailing, bittersweet solo that it tore through the end of the song emanated that, however selectively, Gish puts the “rock” in indie rock.
“Unapologetic” is not the word for Sidney Gish, because it’s clear she never even considered apologizing – Why would she? Gish offers up her flaws but never asks for comment on them; painting herself as
reactive, self-assured, and captivatingly self-conscious all at once. It was a fantastic show, and we can’t wait to hear (and hopefully see) more of Sidney in the very near future.
You can listen to Sidney Gish here.
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With two stunning EPs and two singles under their belts – including one acoustic rendition – five-piece indie rock dream Flipturn has been taking east coast stages by storm while on tour with crunchy indie group *repeat repeat. I was lucky enough to catch them in Philly on the second night of their tour, following a DC performance the night before.
Flipturn has become one of my absolute staple favorites since discovering them in March – a discovery made from a particularly spot-on Spotify algorithm, might I add. Even as I’m sitting and writing this, I’m having a hard time accurately conveying my excitement for just how stoked I was to see Flipturn, and for just how tight of a show this group can put on. Let’s get into it.
Just as I was entering the upstairs of The Milkboy, Flipturn was launching right into “Cold”, the second-to-last song off their first EP titled Heavy Colors (2017). This song acted effectively as a primer; the base layer that Flipturn would swathe their canvas with, a rich and varying sample of their sound. Vocalist (and rhythm guitarist) Dillon Basse’s crystal clear, operatic bellows soar with a fervor unmatched alongside piercing leads from guitarist Tristan Duncan, the kind that drift away and carry you with them. Madeline Jarman’s bass grounds us, reminding us that we are still desperately running to keep up with our own heartbeats; all in harmonious contrast with Taylor Allen’s synth, which subtly lifts us to the dreamy stratosphere, filling the space as it floats by. Drums from Adrian Walker are compelling when they need to take the wheel, and subdued at all the right times, building captivating suspense as each song plays out.
Following “Cold” was “Churches”, which the band released as a single before its official release on second EP Citrona, out in 2018. This punchy, electrifying track is arguably the band’s angstiest, and it was an absolute headbanger – halfway through, I turned around to check out the crowd, and it had easily doubled. On the recording for this song, there is slightly more distortion placed on the vocals, almost like screaming into a 1930’s telephone (I say this genuinely and endearingly) – and Basse’s vigor and rasp as a live performer matched this intensity perfectly.
Next was a new song that hasn’t been released yet, but judging by its subject, I might guess that it will be titled “Eleanor”. The bass-heavy, disco feel of this song definitely piqued the crowd’s interest as much as the ones they knew and sang along to. Following that, a cover, and a modern classic at that: “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes. Flipturn’s insertion of their gritty yet uplifting indie glitter gave the song a fresh and welcomed twist. Basse made sure to shout out dynamic frontwoman Brittany Howard, as well as encourage the crowd to check out her new solo work, released earlier this year.
On Citrona, instrumental opening track “Fletcher” bleeds into “Six Below”– which is exactly how Flipturn played it live. “Fletcher” starts off minimally, adding layer and layer of perfectly syncopated lilting rhythms from Basse on guitar and Allen’s synth alike, topped with Duncan’s undulating lead guitar that yearns for another summer. The transition into “Six Below” feels like that brief, liminal space between dreaming and awareness, and it isn’t until the first chorus that you have to truly face the world, as Basse declares, “I know what everybody knows: Die young or you can grow old, until you’re buried six below”. The incredibly fast drum fills and solos from Walker were outstanding during this number.
“Hippies” haunts in all the right ways, and left me feeling nostalgic for memories that weren’t even my own. Basse’s ringing falsetto paints like an old film, reminiscent of all those who have loved and lost before himself. The buildup towards the end up the song held just the right touch of suspense, lifting up the audience just high enough to drop back off with a satisfied head nod at its break. The final line of each chorus, as well as the song, mourns: “I lost you”.
Between each song, Basse must have called out at least thirty different variations of “Thank you!” and “You guys rock!” following the eruptions of applause and “Woo!”s from the crowd (here’s hoping I was the loudest there). Then, he and Jarman playfully requested a name for their next song – another new and untitled one. Several jokes were called out, but we’ll have to wait and see what they end up deciding for it. On this track, the most dominant melody came from Duncan on lead guitar, heartily met by a much more frequent use of falsetto from Basse. Basse is also an unstoppable dancer; I swear, he never stopped jumping back and forth during the entire set. His buzz was infectious.
Basse announced they had two more songs. The group was met again by cheers not lacking in volume, but, knowing that it would inevitably end, the celebratory air that begins every night of excitement had shifted slightly, preparing itself to begin missing the experience. The first twinkling strums of one of Flipturn’s biggest hits began, “August”. To say that this song is sweet or nostalgic might be cliché, but not out of line. The first line is an invitation to open the storybook: “August, honey, tasted sweeter with you.” Every summer love, every youthful flashback, every ray of sun entering your teenage bedroom is captured in this song. The perfect song to fall in love to, to have your heart broken to, to fall apart to – and it happened live, all at once, for about fifty of us in that room. “I loved you from the start,” Basse wails, each note rising to surpass the last – eventually leading up to a perfectly stacked buildup that meanders at first, then meets you face to face, as if to settle matters for the last time. The crowd went wild.
The final song of the night was “Nickel”, paralleling its closing on Citrona. On this upbeat, choppy anthem, Basse demands the truth. “Was I just told a lie my entire life, thinking I’d be great?” The song carries out with a chant that Basse invited the entire crowd to chant, clap, eventually scream along with many times over, as the intensity increases: “I give it all up for a bottle of wine, about two feet tall, three inches wide; I’d rather be drunk, or out of my mind, than trade my soul for nickels and dimes.”
After graciously accepting the mountainous applause and cheers following this track, Basse’s and Jarman’s eyebrows raised as the crowd began chanting unanimously, “One more song!” Jarman made a slashing motion to her throat as Basse stepped to the mic, jokingly exasperated with palms extended at his sides and an ear-to-ear grin, to remind the crowd, “We’re the opener! We can’t play another, we’re the opener,” The cheering finally subdued, some music began on the speakers overhead to fill the space, and fans flocked together to discuss what they had just heard.
Flipturn put on one of the more solid shows I’ve seen of any indie touring group, touring or not, and I will definitely be seeing them next – and hopefully every- time they come to Philly in the future.
3. New – Unreleased
4. Hold On by Alabama Shakes
6. Six Below
8. New – Untitled
You can keep up with Flipturn here:
On Friday, May 10th, the legendary Neko Case made a fiery appearance at The Uptown Theater in Kansas City, MO. Taking the stage very casually, she wore pants with a skeleton frame on them and slowly introduced us to her set with “Pitch or Honey”. She then launched into “Bad Luck”, which had the majority of the lower level seated section on their feet for a good portion of the track. The lights glowed warmly behind Case, making it look as though she had a true halo around her head. Her on stage cohorts – all basked in a warm glow – seemed to be no less than thrilled to be performing with her, and we can’t say we’re surprised.
After experiencing Case for the first time at 2018’s Sasquatch Music Festival – I know, where have I been? -, I was concerned that the performance might not ignite the level of magic that seemed to seep up from the canyon at the venue in Washington last year. But Case has an aura about her that far exceeds the surrounding environment. And – in any case (no pun intended, truly) – The Uptown Theater provides an ambiance that feels unique to Case’s brand of performance style. It was a night made in heaven.
Our hearts melted the moment the first chords of seventh song of the evening – “Maybe Sparrow” – hit the air. That song and the accompanying level of shaken you feel after experiencing it live truly attest to Case’s magnetic nature. And, of course, nothing left the room more energized than when she pulled “Train From Kansas City” out of her back pocket as the second of three encore tracks. If nothing else, this city is known for its appreciation of the wealth of music and culture it inspires and is mentioned in. Forever, we will appreciate her for that nod to what was once a flyover city.
Case’s sound can only be categorized as the perfect blend of nature and otherworldly, enigmatic energy. To have the pleasure of enjoying it live will leave a mark on your soul, no matter the night of the week. Though it DOES help that it was a Friday night experience, as we had the remainder of the weekend to really digest it all.
Keep up with Neko Case here.
If you haven’t witnessed UPSAHL live, now is the perfect time. This female act is about to be major, and if her recorded music is not already any indication of that, then her live performance is absolute proof. And we couldn’t have thought of anyone better to open Max Frost’s show at The Riot Room on Monday, March 11th.
Rolling through . And during “All My Friends Are Rich”, you could tell the entire crowd was identifying with the lyrics in some way or another. (Hi. Yes. “Now where in the hell is my money?”) In fact, we were thrilled to see her perform any of the tracks off of her new Hindsight 20/20 EP, as it is such a vulnerable and theatrical work of art. Lucky us, UPSAHL’s vocals are just as raspy and enticing in real life as they are recorded, so her entire performance felt as though we were inside the EP itself. Not to mention, “Drugs” gave us all the confidence.
We walked away from that set to the bar like the badasses we had always dreamt of being, and we owe it all to an evening of fun with UPSAHL.
Keep up with the artist here.
I stumbled upon Larkin Poe in late 2016. I was on a YouTube music spree, as one will occasionally do, and they happened to pop up in my “Up Next” column. It was a Jam in the Van video of the song Jailbreak. The video had been posted in 2014 so it was roughly 2 and half years old by the time I found it. The song had a good pop to it and both Rebecca and Meghan had a good energy for the song. After the video ended, I began to dig into more of their stuff, Don’t, Sugar High, Stubborn Love and Trouble in Mind. Every song I listened to was solid, but the studio recordings lacked that something that separates music you throw on in the back ground from music you throw on to really listen to.
Flash forward to the Garage at Knuckleheads Saloon on a Monday night. I was unsure of the following that Larkin Poe would have, especially with it being a Monday night, in December, in Kansas City Missouri. We got to the venue 20 minutes before the opener was scheduled. I assumed this would be plenty of time to grab a seat, grab a drink and talk before the show started. What’s that they say about assumptions? The venue was packed. We were fortunate enough to find a couple lonesome bar stools in the corner. Other than those, it was standing room only.
It’s important to point out the composition of the crowd for this event. There were plenty of adults in attendance and the usual crowd that seems to attend Knuckleheads religiously, regardless of what type of artist or music it being played. The best part about the crowd for me were the parents that brought their kids with them. Live music is an important thing to support and it’s even better when the band is on fire like Larkin Poe was that night.
When Larkin Poe took the stage, I immediately understood why the place had sold out. The energy they brought with them left the crowd with one option, buckle up and enjoy the ride. Their opening song “Summertime Sunset” brought the house down and it only got better from there. Meghan’s slide guitar outro for Look Away was a good for lesson for any guitar player in patience, tone and control. Rebecca’s vocals have gotten stronger and more confident since I first heard her, and the entire concert was a showcase for that talent.
The show was refreshing and genuine and as a soon to be father of a daughter, it was awesome to see two sisters absolutely dominating the stage. I cannot wait for them to come back around or anywhere close, I will be dragging my friends and most likely a certain family member, you know who you are, to see them again.
Keep up with Larkin Poe here.