A solid night of indie rock took place at The Grape Room
on August 14. It was my first visit to the Manayunk venue in months. I was drawn to the showcase hearing that Alex Kelly
and Kelsey Warren (Pillow Theory
) would do some acoustic music. I hadn’t seen Kelsey in years. Alex and I had been in touch for about a year, and I had spun her music plus interviewed her over Skype
in January. I ended up pretty early to the venue, getting there shortly after doors. Alex and Kelsey didn’t arrive until about midway through the evening. Frankly I wasn’t sure who was scheduled to perform and the venue’s website didn’t give me further indication. Nevertheless, everyone was present and accounted for.
The Living have just released an EP, and their drummer Cori Barger was kind to give me a download card with their latest music. Hailing from Brooklyn, they clalm to have a folk-rock sound. Hearing the power between the 4 members, it resembled rock-folk…putting the power of rock into their songwriter-oriented material. If it was pop, I’d call it power-pop, but that’s not the case here. The music from their songs online are definitely more folk-oriented, tho the live performance gives a bit more of an edge to it, thanks to Cori’s solid drumming. Talking with him before the show, he mentions that the band has already played notables venues in NYC such as Piano’s and Rockwood Music Hall, and have done some regional touring in the Northeast.
Two bands who split time between Dublin and New York City were sharing bills, including a show at Mercury Lounge in NYC on August 15. First of these two bands were Empire Circus, a band I had not heard of, but reportedly was a project from another band. I learned after the show that, in fact, two of their members were also in the band Stand, a band I had given airplay to in the past! Stand stood out to me for having a great anthemic sound, not unlike their countrymen in the band U2. Empire Circus have an insistent sound, pushed forth by their lead vox and bassist. Good headbobbing music, quick, a bit of pop here and there but thoroughly rocking. Yes, reminiscent of Stand’s glory days, but Empire Circus’s material is even more accessible.
The same level of music can be said about Von Shakes, fellow Dubliners who help represent the best of the indies in that city (Delorentos is another such band that I’ve given airplay to). Von Shakes are an exciting 4 piece led by vox/guitar Paddy Brazel, who sported a short Morrissey-like (or is that Joe Strummer) pompadour. Similar to Empire Circus, the guitars rock out and the drummer is super solid. Hugh O’Reilly is on guitar and keys. On one song, Paddy and bassist Cillian help with the drum fills while drummer Ryan blasts away. Gaining a buzz in the world outside the States, it was a treat to see and hear two bands giving it their all on the Grape Room’s small stage. “My Side” I recognized from the band’s website, and it’s an electric tune, a nod to sounds of postpunk and thoroughly modern indie rock alongsides.
Alex and Kelly opted to play a short acoustic set following all that rock. I stayed for most of that set, as Kelsey strummed a Fender, and Alex poured out seductive soulful sound from her vocals. “Orange Circle”, one song they cowrote, was my favorite of the songs, which is also the title of her CD.
Lots more photos on Facebook.
Video of Alex and Kelsey will be linked here, subject to approval.