Tag Archives: Once They Were

@ Legendary Dobbs 3/8/13


There was prog if you wanted it, along with old-fashioned hard rock and some contemporary styled music as well at The Legendary Dobbs on Friday.

NYC’s Changing Modes, winners of the 2012 M.E.A.N.Y Fest competition, played with 2 new members since I last saw them (video  at Millcreek Tavern, Philly, 2011). In the drummer’s seat is Timur Yusuf, and on guitar is Denise Mei Yan Hofmann. Tonight’s show appeared to focus on material from the last 2 albums, and a few from “Down and Out in Shangri-La” 3 albums back. As always, Wendy Griffiths commands, and the effort is flawless. The chemistry seems good between everybody, and every note rehearsed well. it’s the little things that make the difference: the triangle, theremin (yes!), a coy Wendy donning pink sunglasses briefly in one song. I recall a song toward the end that was very insistent, almost had a Pixies feel to it with a solid lead/bass guitar bed underneath. Chris Panico of Once They Were became an instant fan. Wendy obliged by handing him a tambourine to participate with offstage.

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Next up for this unique-sounding band is a Japanese performance showcase in Brooklyn tonight, then an International Pop Overthrow showcase in Manhattan on 5/5.
 Wooden Hez are Dave Pittone on vox/guitar, Alan Lee on bass, Stu Needel on drums. Alan’s powerful bass leads the charge with this local hard rock band. Dave’s strong, gruff voice helps to shape the band’s own sound. The songs seem filled with sad characters. They are playing small to mid-level venues locally, and are about to invade the South in April.
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What’s a Nord doing in a jam-oriented rock band? Ask the man who owns one, or just go listen to Big Wake, who welcome this keyboard as one of their own. This Jersey City band has already made neighboring cities NYC and New Brunswick familiar ground. Tonight they played maybe 7-8 songs. They average about 5.5 minutes per song on their s/t album. Being fans of 90’s alternative and 70’s classic rock, they bridge the best of these worlds with a professional delivery. Much dancing ensued through the set. I chatted with James Rosenthal, who’s nephew Gerry is the lead guitarist and vocalist ( James, himself, is in an local alt-country band called Clarksville)
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Once They Were, led by vocalists Chris Panico and Kate Coyne were reviewed in a prior post. Tonight was much the same fare, somewhat tamer than the other acts. They covered Nena’s “99 Luftballoons” and included a segue into The Buggles “Video Killed The Radio Star” on their last song. The bartender played up the choice of song, claiming that barely anyone in the audience would remember MTV’s first ever video from 1982. I find it interesting they have a penchant for New Wave music despite not sounding quite into that genre.
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 Spotted in the audience were 2 members of the band Zer0 (who were part of Changing Modes’ billing in 2011 in Philly) (URL, anyone?), other friends of Changing Modes, and also Ron Bauman of Connie’s Ric Rac and The Discount Heroes.
And, oh, aren’t we a pair? Wendy and I, post-gig.
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@ 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.

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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.
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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.

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