The Dead Flowers at PhilaMOCA
When a band opens their show by shouting "Get ready to rock!" or that sort of thing they'd better damn well rock. The Dead Flowers damn well rock, no question. If you like raw rock-n-roll where you can pick up on the Blues and Boogie Woogie influences then this band is for you. Also, if you like bands which are actually doing something on stage. There seem to be an awful lot of stand-there-and-play bands here in Philly. Those bands can still be good but I definitely prefer bands which look and act like they're having a blast.
If you read my last review you might remember that I said the lighting at PhilaMOCA could be better. This is that better lighting. If the photos this time were less than spectacular then that's my fault. Also, yes, the default video at PhilaMOCA is a live shot of the band which then turns into one of those video tunnel things.
Lito and the Shepherds at PhilaMOCA
This particular show at PhilaMOCA was all rock bands. Two of them were loud and in-your-face. Then there was the subtle band, the one which built up intensity as they went along, which of course was Lito and the Shepherds. You can probably tell from the backgrounds that they're a bit psychedelic, and I feel like they must have some Jazz influences too. Their music is slinky and groovy, getting you into a mood before (sometimes) turning up the intensity. Very catchy and very cool.
PhilaMOCA is a DIY-ish music venue which also shows movies (indie stuff) sometimes so they have a good projector. Lito and the Shepherds brought their own background video. Neat, huh? The problem is that most of the light hitting the stage comes from that projector. There is almost no light on stage right from the two spotlights in the room. So in case you're wondering why I don't have any good photos of the band's lead guitarist it is because that video has a square-ish aspect ratio and stage right was in the dark part at the edge. Just look at the photos of the other two bands who played this show for how much better the lighting could have been.
Full Bush at Ortlieb's
Half the time Full Bush are the punkest band ever, ripping very directly into a variety of deserving targets. The other half of the time they're still pretty vicious but a little more subtle about it. I mention this because on their Facebook page they describe themselves as a "Post-punk foursome from Philadelphia", which is alliterative and accurate as long as "Post-" doesn't mean a damn thing. It's four silent letters and a silent hyphen and one loud-ass punk band.
Music venues have only just started to reopen and I have noticed that the bands which get booked right now tend to be local. Maybe this is because nobody wants to travel just yet (though the openers were from upstate and were quite good) or maybe it's a sort of "promote the local music community" thing. Either way, Full Bush are the kind of band which sets one song in an actual local bar and, uh, reviews another local band on another song. They're not just a band from Philadelphia but an identifiably Philly band. The levee which is holding back the waves of touring bands will break sometime around September. Until then, people who normally only go out to big shows might just decide to see something a little smaller. At least it's going out, right? (Seriously, Fuck COVID) Hopefully they'll find some new music they like and I like the fact that it will probably be local music.
The Warhawks at Ortlieb's
This was my first indoor concert in more than a year. About time dammit! Of course things aren't completely back to normal. Bands aren't really touring yet so while there are shows they're all local bands. Since Philadelphia is a part of New Jersey* here we have New Jersey band The Warhawks headlining at Ortlieb's.
So who are these local boys. Well, I want to call The Warhawks a party band but that's not really true. A couple of their songs are on the bouncy pop-rock side ("Deliver" comes right to mind) so there's a hint of that. They're also not the NJ stereotype of Springsteen copycats trying to make every song sound epic but... Other Side of Life is actually kinda like that. Most of their stuff is crunchy guitar rock though. Maybe it's best to call them a high-energy indie rock band which experiments with other styles a bit.
As a photographer I have to comment something I noticed at Ortlieb's. One of the spotlights was pointed at the ceiling for some reason. Last time that spotlight wasn't working at all. Now they've got it lighting up the stains on the ceiling. Are those beer stains? Blood stains? Who knows? The point is that I humbly request that somebody who can reach up there should point that thing at the bands.
* Not literally but, you know, spiritually.
Slomo Sapiens at The International Bar
Of the many rock bands on this bill Slomo Sapiens were brought the party better than any other. Which is weird because they're more like 70s hard rock band than a party band. Their stage presence helped, but I think the main thing was that while their music gets sludgy at times it doesn't stay there. There are these bursts of "fuck yeah" energy which totally worked up the crowd. They're heavy but they're "fun heavy".