A balmy sunset greeted me as I strode through The Grape Room
‘s doors, just a bit after 8pm, running late, tho the music was right on time. I caught most of the set by the opening act, Collingswood NJ rock band Theopolis James
. This power trio has a snarling bass that powers the sound. They are fully original, tho one can hear the mild influences of 70′s classic rock bands such as Blue Oyster Cult and Deep Purple, measured jams, plus varied measures. “The Day Ahead Of Me” started out with a reggae feel, then got into a brief downbeat chorus, then 4-4 very briefly, and maybe a different measure with the bridge. Another song was more harmonic in vocals, which is the perfect counter to such throwback sounds. I really would like to know what sort of 5-string bass Joe Jandura was playing. Beside drummer Miles Holland’s kit were 2 drink, one green, another orange. One only wonders what those were. Talking afterward with Ted Bunch, who is the frontman and also founder of Thirsty Records, he mentions being focused on community and being true to one’s indie roots. Ted was kind to give me a new Theopolis James CD, just 2 days out of the printing shop, titled “A Different Kind Of Evil”. Upon first listen, I already am a fan of “Bummer”, with a well mixed blend of electric and bass guitars. Ted and Miles share vocal duties. From the live set, I recall “Bummer” being part of the mix. Turns out that this song, and “The Day Ahead Of Me” are Miles’ own compositions. The main chords were very familiar, possibly a take-off of some familar (read: VERY familiar) rock song and yet I cannot, for the life of me, place where I’ve heard it before. One of those things that really bug me. But enjoyable nevertheless. Certainly one you’ll like also if you’re into elements of 70′s classic rock.
In the brief interludes of quiet during Theopolis James’ set, I was able to get a few words into Melissa McGinley, one half of power duo (yes, you read that right) The StereoFidelics
. Chatting with Melissa, she seems really happy to be back in Philly, and looking forward to upcoming gigs in New England before returning home to NC sometime in August, and then a month or so back on the road. They had been in Colorado earlier in the month while the wildfires were mostly uncontained. Melissa says the smoke could be smelled clearly in the air. The duo tour seemingly half of one calendar year at a time when they’re not otherwise in the studio. Speaking of, they are just putting finishing on a new studio CD. Their prior effort was a live recording in Binghamton NY. For tonight’s show, they planned to show off most of the songs that will appear on the as-yet-untitled CD. For the uninitiated among you, The StereoFidelics operate about 5 different instruments. Chris Padgett is up front working various guitar and bass pedals with plugins on bare feet, strapping on a powerful bass guitar. Melissa handles nearly all vocals on the drumkit. For one song she wielded violin. Their roles are well defined, even off stage; she handles the merch and much of the talking, while Chris does much of the heavy lifting. They have a big van, with 2 pit bull-mixed dogs (true ‘road dogs’, one barely rescued from a shelter) as a neat escape from the stresses of touring.
What’s left to say about superb Canadian rock import The Trews
that hasn’t already been said or typed? Having seen them prior at North Star Bar
, I knew what to expect. Tonight I had to be prepared to experience them with much closer contact, as The Grape Room is a much smaller stage. I spoke with bassist Jack Syperek just prior to showtime.
Set list: World I Know, Not Ready To Go (big favorite of the crowd), So She’s Leaving, Burned, Hope & Ruin, Oceans/Making Sunshine (dedicated to a fan named Janine, who saw the band play at Art Park in Lewiston NY last week), Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me, and Hold Me In Your Arms. Two-song encore of Highway Of Heroes and One By One. Much of the crowd toward the end of the set appeared to be the well-heeled Manayunk locals. Can’t beat $3 Yuenglings.
The Trews have swagger, serious rock stylings with a minimal of flash. As I often say about Canadian bands, they leave blood on the stage, being honest and visceral all at once. The songs are instantly memorable, full of vigor and fire, mainly from lead vox Colin McDonald.
Future dates for The Trews see them with Northeast dates for the remainder of July, then all across their home of Canada for much of August.
VIDEO of The TrewsJosh Harris
finished the event up. I was able to stay for just the first 2 songs, given a rather long setup time, and me having to get home at a halfway decent hour. Josh was armed with acoustic, plus bassist. I honestly could not discern his particular style 2 songs in, and there just isn’t much info on the Internet to figure out where he comes from.