Musings about music.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spring Break Tour @ Johnny Brenda's

Tuesday night (March 9, 2010) was my first visit to Johnny Brenda's in Philly. To be honest, before the Spring Break Forever Tour, I had never even heard of the venue. Totally my loss! Not only do they have decent prices on food and drinks, the music space is pretty cool, and they have totally legit bands there you guys! Upcoming events include The Fruitbats, Little Dragon, VV Brown, and Rasputina, and a slew of other awesome musicians. Needless to say I will be visiting again soon and probably in the near future.

The evening began on kind of a bad note for me because I had borrowed a super awesome HD digital camcorder to record some videos for you guys. I bought tapes for it and then forgot them at my house so the only pictures I have are some pretty lame stills that I will add tomorrow night since I am on my laptop right now. I decided that I wasn't going to let my forgetfulness ruin my night, after all you're not supposed to worry about things on Spring Break!

Allison Weiss was the first performer of the evening. I've been following her music for about 2 years now but this was my first opportunity to actually see her perform in person. She stepped on stage wearing a Tegan and Sara shirt (yes!) and a matching bandanna around her neck. Her first two songs were I Don't Want To Be Here (though she assured us she really DID want to be there), and Let's Leave. One thing I noticed pretty much immediately is that Allison is quite funny on stage, at this point she stopped to let us know that she wasn't sure what she ate today but, "I know I had an entire bag of turkey jerky."

The next leg of her set included, From You To Me, Try To Understand, and You + Me + Alcohol. I can honestly say that Allison, or Mr. Frosty as she's known on Spring Break, sounds really great live. Her vocal quality is easily as good as on her studio albums, and may even be better.

Next came Ghost Stories, a song she wrote about true events on her 2007 tour, on which she lost her GPS. After her next song, Let Me Go, Bess joined her on stage playing electric guitar and Jenny picked up the bass, making sure to compliment Allison's bangs, which Allison reciprocated, before playing. Their first song as a trio was Fingers Crossed. I really enjoyed the added background vocals by Jenny during the choruses.

For I Was An Island Bess moved over to the keyboard and Jenny shifted to Xylophone. It was pretty impressive the way the girls seamlessly shifted instruments all night long. Allison's last song of the evening was I'm Ready. Bess switched back to electric guitar for this one.

Overall this was a really fun set. She added lots of clever Spring break anecdotes in and managed to make heartbreak seem like a Spring Break blast!

After a short break Bess Rogers took the stage. She started with the title track from her last EP, Travel Back. Followed by Everything To Lose. There was a brief break during this song when Bess accidentally combined the words love and want and got, "the only thing you wuv is money" i don't think anyone would have noticed if she hadn't stopped to tell us. After some laughter and some time to regain her composure she started again and finished the song flawlessly.

I'm sort of sad to say I don't know the title of her third song. I can only assume it's a newer one that I haven't heard. It was nice though, the strumming was particularly on point during this tune and I liked the words which started out with, "Do you remember that day in 2008 when you said you love me?" After that she played Good Enough, which is a song from her upcoming album. the vocals were pristine and I get more excited about hearing the studio version every time she plays it so I hope the LP is done soon!

She followed with What We Want and then the Flux Capacitors (a side project of Bess's) cover of Pour Some Sugar On Me. Her last solo song of the night was Please Come Home. Overall her performance was a little more serious then Allison's, that's not to say she wasn't having fun. Once again it was apparent to me how seasoned a performer she is, executing wonderful music and making it seem like it takes no effort.

After that Jenny and Allison joined her on stage where they discussed their tour names, Allison = Mr. Frosty, Jenny = Pizza Pie, and Bess = Magical Boobs. Then they jumped into I Don't Worry with Jenny on ukulele and Allison on bass. After another instrument shift (Jenny on bass, Allison on keyboard) Bess played the last song of her set, Bulldozer.

After a short break, and a trip to the merch table (where I was super impressed that Allison remember my name) I was ready for Jenny's set. She started off with Dissolve and followed it up with Led To The Sea.

After this she played Transmitter Failure, which is one of my favorite songs of hers. It seemed a little softer then I am used to and I really liked that. Next was Clean Break, I'm not used to hearing this song so stripped down and this solo acoustic performance was probably my favorite version of it.

At this point Allison came up on stage to do a tequila shot (yea Spring break!) and so Jenny appropriately followed with Drinking Song. Bess joined her on stage playing the electric guitar for Voice On Tape. This version was really beautiful, it had a dreamy quality to it accentuated by Bess's guitar. They then played Start + Stop and they really rocked out on this one.

Allison joined the stage and together they played Secrets. I thought it was a sweeter version of the song with Bess on background vocals. This is one song that sounds really different to me every time I hear it. Also I've seen her perform this song with several different artists doing the other vocals which always makes it interesting.

For Last Person Allison played tambourine. During this song I realized that it was the first time I had ever seen Jenny wear anything other than Converse All-Stars (random I know.) The last song of her set was fan favorite Fuck Was I and Bess played ukulele for it. I think adding that slowed it down a little bit and I REALLY liked it. The added vocals at the end were also really awesome.

At the very end they played their Spring Break Forever Tour song and Allison had an awesome guitar solo. It was a fantastic show, great music, great venue.

After the show they got in the photo booth with me, you can see us throwing some gang signs here, my favorite is the last picture where my hair, and Allison's hair sort of framed Bess and made it look like she had long hair.

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