Everything old is new again. Or something like that. Pop music is cyclical, and most of what we listen to today is firmly rooted in the Velvet Underground. Goth? All Tomorrow's Parties. Punk? Owes more to Mo Tucker than anyone wants to admit. Post-Punk? They were playing it before the style was born. Hell, they were playing it before the band it supplanted, the Ramones, had bought their first instruments. How a band plays the aftermath of music that didn't exist for another decade is beyond me, but there you have it. And the Noise-Pop stylings of bands like tonight's headliners, Empath springs from the dusty loins of John Cale like some sort of demented Botticelli painting. It's not hard to imagine them writing 'The Black Angel's Death Song' if they lacked access to modern electronics.
Empath is cemented firmly in a Philly scene where folks care deeply, madly about the music they're making. Catherine Elicson's wall of noise guitar is well anchored by the undertone drone of Randall Coon's synth counterbalanced by Emily Shanahan's more melodic keys. Drummer Garrett Koloski bears a startling resemblance to a young Pat Smear, providing a monstrous beat to move it all along. There's a bit of Kim Gordon in all of this, to grand effect.
The result is a disconcertingly revelatory journey into a sort of white noise Rorschach test. What you get from this music, I suspect, largely depends on what you bring to the party. If you're ready to feel something, this bands has the vehicle to get you there. If your head is closed, though, I doubt you'll get it. Bands like this are medicine. And we're lucky to have it.
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Lobby Boy hails from the home of MACROCK with a nicely lo-fi brand of Indie Pop likely referencing Wes Anderson's Gustave H from the Grand Budapest Hotel. Front woman Chez Goodspeed lends an air of chanteuse torchiness to their proceedings. The music is dreamy and eloquent, a yearning for summer.
RVA's Stephanie opened up with retrograde electronics summoning the spirit of a mid 80s Italian horror soundtrack matched with some kind of synth Kabuki theater. It's always a treat when a local venue hosts their signature sound.
Philadelphia. Noise Pop.
Harrisonburg. Lo-fi Indie Pop.