Last night’s Spazz Fest show amounted to an invasion from the City of Brotherly Love, as On the Water, Norwegian Arms and Dangerous Ponies whipped up a sold out crowd at Peasants. Old faves of the Greenville crowd, The Annuals (Raleigh) must have loved closing the show to a pumped up house. It was the first time through Greenville for this trio of bands from Philly, and we’re hoping they all come back.
On the Water
The night started with On the Water, an ‘avant-folk’ act that numbers as much as 11 in members. To quote their Facebook page, they are “A folk collective of oddballs, loons and hooligans via West Philadelphia.” Reduced in number to three last night, Fletcher VanVliet (guitar, voice), Morgan Jamison (Toy Piano, Glockenspiel, Harmonies & the Foot-Trap Tambo), and Taylor Jamison (Upright Bass) represented their missing mates well. VanVliet’s growly vocals and gesticulating guitar style was complemented well by Ms. Jamison’s sweet harmonies and accents on toy piano and glockenspiel, as well as Mr. Jamison’s punchy bass. The inspiration for their songs falls somewhere between Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski. No frills or complications, yet they captivate the crowd because they’re willing to bear themselves publicly. One word for their performance last night: indelible.
On the Water – “Dog Eat Dog”
On the Water – “The Words III”
On the Water – “Sea Legs”
Purchase/Stream – False Starts
Aahh…Norwegian Arms. This is a band that Craig and I were anticipating all along, and they did not disappoint. Their music oozes rhythm and there they were, no fewer than fifteen feet away from our perch at Peasant’s. Brendan Mulvihill’s chilly dream world came alive last night as he was joined by Andy Moholt (Laser Background) and Michael Chadwick who helped produce and engineer the album. Mulvihill’s mandolin meshed well with Moholt’s vintage era Realistic Concertmate and Chadwick’s improvised tom drum set up. They blew the crowd back with electrifyingly ebullient material, spawning random dancing and uncontrollable toe and hand tapping.
Watch: Norwegian Arms – “Soviet Bicycle” from Brighton Sound Sessions
Purchase/Stream: Wolf Like Stray Dog
Dangerous Ponies was the last Philly act to perform. Led by vocalist/guitarist Chrissy Tashjian, the Dangerous Ponies proved to be a lot of fun. Their music is sweetly packaged power pop with plenty of guitar, big backing vocals, and their very own hype section. The hype section was ably anchored by Brooks Banker and
Sarah Green who alternated on keys and percussion while occasionally dancing in the crowd and pumping up the mass of people in front the Peasant’s stage. In addition to Chrissy, Evan Bernard and Kyle Pulley played guitar, weaving in and out of complementary patterns with Bernard occasionally providing backing vocals. The rhythm section included Chris Baglivo on bass and Mikey Tashjian on drums. It was a rousing set that completed a ‘Philly crescendo’ of sorts.
Dangerous Ponies have spent the past year opening for Akron family, Tilly and the Wall, Reptar and Rubblebucket, among others. Their spring tour supported their new seven-inch, Tender Heart. They are slated to release a LP recording this fall.
Watch: Dangerous Ponies – “Gave Up”
Purchase/Stream: Tender Heart (7″)