Tag Archives: Kelsey Warren

@ The Grape Room, 8/14/13

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.


@ The Legendary Dobbs, 1/25/13

I attend a rock showcase on Friday night among modest winter temperatures. With the lack of a fierce wind, and with the snowfall just ending in mid-afternoon, the roads were somewhat passable, and I found my commute relatively easy, trudging up South Street.
I was to interview electro-rock artists Alex Kelly, who was to play an unplugged set with Kelsey Warren (Pillow Theory). Neither artist showed up. I haven’t received definite word as to why just yet. I know they are based in NYC and I have to wonder whether or not the travel or weather advisory warnings were enough of a threat not to make the trek in. As I type this, I’m planning a Skype interview with Alex. She’s scheduled for gigs in New Hampshire tonight (1/26) and the Jersey shore (1/27)

It appears that all the Philly kids who grew up on grunge are now finding their voices and applying the same sounds and techniques.  Such is the case with The Good Excuses. They kicked off song #1 with an original that recalls Smashing Pumpkins. Then a 50s cover which I positively cannot recall at this moment. Every song contained some humorous banter from lead vox/guitarist Andrew. He produced some chime-like sounds from one of his pedals, another nod to 90’s guitar bands. Generally they keep to a pop structure and find space to jam a bit, get progressive with some solos, and show off some humor amidst the lyrics.

Once They Were are a 5-piece (electric guitar, bass, acoustic, backing vocalist, drummer) led by vocalist Chris Panico. Drummer Anders tells me that they each met while attending the city’s University For The Arts. Chris and Kate (vocals) come across fairly low-key, delivering in a sing-song style. My favorite song of their set is Broken Headphones, which could be attributed to squabbles or disagreements at about any age. Indeed they pretty accessible in their sound; it appeared that a lot of their fellow students were in attendance. They only truly rocked out on the final song, perhaps to placate those who were seeking to be sufficiently rocked.

The Parachuting Apostles were headliners bringing a good loud rock sound with elements of metal, punk, and classic rock. Domenic Malandro leads this band on vocals and assorted antics. He was present on guitar for a Stone Temple Pilots cover (more grunge!) and performed sax on an original. Very exciting band, whose members find easy to be nearly as animated as Domenic himself. They recorded their new 3-song EP at the legendary Studio 4 in Conshohocken. Will Yip, in the producers chair had worked on albums there by The Hooters, Schooly D., Ms. Lauryn Hill among the notable there.

More photos at my latest Facebook gallery