There’s hot, and then there’s “450 sweaty teenagers and aging hipsters crowded into a church basement with broken fans” hot. That was the kind of hot that greeted Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Grand Buffet and The Magnolia Electric Company on Wednesday night at The First Unitarian Church in Philly.
Usually when the opening act goes on stage, the place is still filling up, and lots of folks are socializing instead of getting a position to see the first band. Not on a night when the “opening act” is the most talked about new band in the indie rock circles, recipients of glowing reviews from all the usual suspects, and sporting a curious name like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. By the time the band had assembled on stage, the place was packed, and continued to fill as they began to progress through their self-titled, self-released debut album’s tracks.
The band sounded fantastic on stage. For a venue as empirically shitty as The First Unitarian Church, the music sounded good, even if the logistics don’t allow for much in the way of any type of discernable stage show. Lead singer and Philly native Alec Ounsworth was not much for talking between songs, which was greatly appreciated since they had limited time and a great album to play for us. Ounsworth’s unique vocal style (imagine David Byrne being strangled), doesn’t do much for understanding lyrics at a live show, but I can’t really understand them on the album either, so no big deal.
The band is technically very strong, with tight, full melodies that employ lots of head bobbing off beats to accentuate the tunes. Gaudy synth lines were used at the right times, and the band seemed very focused on nailing the songs, as opposed to overly playing to the crowd. No problem for me. I don’t need an elaborate stage show. Play great rock music. Nothing more is needed.
Almost all tracks from the album were played, and a couple that are not on the album, the most notable being “Satan Said Dance” (don’t quote me on the title). Ounsworth sported the harmonica neck rack for a tune or two as well. The band opened with “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away” and closed with “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood”, my 2 favorite tracks on an album full of memorable tunes.
After CYHSY finished their set, we bolted for air that was south of 200 degrees, and caught a bite to eat while Grand Buffet performed.
We came back to catch some of Magnolia Electric Company, formerly known as Songs: Ohia. Jason Molina’s new band has some good tunes, including “The Dark Don’t Hide It” and “Leaving The City”. I didn’t hear either of those songs, but I also didn’t stay for the entire set either. The place had thinned out considerably, Magnolia was uninspiring, and I wanted to go home and listen to more Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
Here are some valuable links to check out this great new band.
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