@ The Grape Room 2/10/12

Midwinter’s chill didn’t hold back many folks from attending The Grape Room on Friday night.  There was a decent breeze in the night air with rain just changing over to snow. Lovely if you’re a driver. Me, I take the bus.  The bus I get goes from Center City down Ridge Avenue, about 30 minutes to beautiful downtown upper-class Manayunk.  Train is quicker but also more expensive.  I risked some time in getting to the first stop at the bus and missed it…and had to endure a 45 minute wait. Basically one bus totally blew off the schedule and didn’t arrive while the 2nd one did very shortly after.  I got in around 845pm and had just missed seeing local folk-rocker Matt Spitko.
Tonight included bands that I had seen earlier in 2011.  Andrew Jude, who opened for Song Dogs & The Nightjar in December, was second up.  Andrew has some solid guitar-oriented pop songs…think Del Amitri or the more accessible of Luna’s music. I had chatted with their drummer, Don Brown, who has a powerful technique and great fills. He mentioned that, on Thursday, the band played at his alma mater of Philadelphia University for a Relay for Life benefit. Andrew and band was a trio tonight; Alicia, their violinist was out of town. I recall Andrew saying that she’s with the band on some regional dates depending on the locale.  Andrew received debut airplay from me on Radio Crystal Blue earlier in the week.
The Tressels did their thing all over the Grape Room stage….a 5 piece band that I covered for you in a prior post when they played at Legendary Dobbs. Pretty much the same script as before, some of the same songs, and much of the same kinetic energy . One guy handles maracas and tambos, another stands tall and quiet on guitar, another handles flashy lead guitar, and a drummer tucked in the back who keeps an understated but steady hand with the backbeat.  Exciting band to see; that is, if you like to see bands that make like The Who with all their craftiness on stage. Possibly the best local band I’ve seen since beginning my coverage of local showcases last summer.  Before the last song, lead vox Butch Tressels asks a hardcore Sinatra trivia question “What was the last song that Sinatra sang in his final concert?” I did know the answer was “The Best Is Yet To Come” but waited for a response from the audience. No response came. Instead there was the constant chatter of hipsters and folks just standing around gawking or gabbing with each other. No matter. They did launch into that final song, climaxing with  Mickey Reds (percussion, 2nd vocalist) delivering a mighty roar that would do whatshisname in the Who proud.    Outside while I caught my breath from the slowly packing venue (where did all those young ladies come from), I had met most of the band in post-show smoke. A doe-eyed brunette was waxing eloquent about the band’s set and how they’ll make The Grape Room a place they’ll attend time and again. I love when that magic happens. The Tressels didn’t really have much of a challenge with the stage doing all their shtick.  One bandmember (I believe it was Bruce) was mentioning have to do “the Bruce thing” (Springsteen, perhaps?), crouching low on guitar and maintaining rhythm and control while the others cavorted. They were to play on 2/11 at The Alphabet Lounge in the East Village section of NYC, then another date with Dobbs in March.
The Tressels shared stages several times before with another local act, Johnny Action Figure, and did likewise on Friday. This regional 4-piece sing out loud and enjoy being in the moment on stage.  No stage antics beyond the norm for them; they have 2 keyboards to work plus guitar and drums, plus a great original pop aesthethic that will continue to attract fans in PA.
By midway through the set, yours truly was having the worst time getting good camera angles thanks to the teeming dozens that decide to populate every square inch of the room.  I hightailed out of there just as Johnny Action Figure wrapped up.  Apparently the headline band, Kalob Griffin Band by name (State College by place), brought in a huge amount there.
Waiting for the last bus out of Manayunk (again, forgoing the nearby train and extra expense), I glanced in admiration at the folks walking up and down Main Street, underdressed to the eights and nines. Same time every night, from what I’ve seen, seems to present this scene.   The cold rain was a bonus of sorts.
More pics at my latest Facebook gallery

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