You never know what you’re going to get when you step into World Café Live. Along with “Irish Nachos,” why not toss in some Salmon with Miso.
Or instead of an ambient instrumental group, why not open up with a reggae-fusion act. The bill on Thursday night was as eclectic as the venue’s own menu.
The night belonged to The Sea Trio, celebrating the release of their new CD Lily Sky, but soon all four acts would get to share some of the glory.
Starting out the show was Philadelphia locals Iron, putting on their reggae sound backed with synthesizers, dueling guitars, and soulful hand instruments. British lead vocalist Rascul Intl delivered an authentic presence to the group’s sound.
The whole outfit demanded respect and looked dapper doing it in full on suits with ties. The notable exception was percussionist Yomi with his traditional styled flowing robe, and drummer James Robinson in more casual attire. It was a good call on his part, since by the end of the set he was entirely drenched in perspiration from giving an intense performance. Bassist Greg provided powerful bass rhythms and constantly had a look of determination and intensity while doing it.
With the sun still in the early evening sky, the sounds drifted over the still gathering audience and had heads bobbing along the whole time. They finished on an upbeat note, but left you wanting for more of their infectious grooves.
Clearing the way for the next act, Philly locals iNFiNiEN took the stage with keyboardist/vocalist Chrissie Loftus immediately launching into a passionate performance of the four piece’s distinctive sound of psychedelic experimental fusion. Probably best described as Tori Amos mating with The Grateful Dead while a calypso bassist gets in on the action, their sound was different, but moving none the less.
Lead guitarist Matt Hollenberg drove the performance with stony guitar riffs while throwing himself completely into it. Moving around so much it made it difficult to even photograph him, it was apparent he was serious about the band’s sound. While the band played, performance painter Vort of the art collective Vorcan stood stage right, throwing paint onto a canvas, progressing into a full painting right along side the group jamming merely a few feet away.
Much like the previous act, the band’s set was entirely too short. But such is to be expected with a four act bill on a weeknight. While the experimental sound may not be entirely everybody’s thing, it would be interesting to see what this band could do with a full set.
Traveling up from Baltimore, progressive jam band Earthtone filled the entire stage with two percussionists, a keyboardist/guitarist, lead guitarists, and bassist. Immediately one had to wonder what might be in store. And once they started playing, you were immediately glad they made the effort.
Drummer Tommy Bradel quickly powered up the whole back line with intense and dance tinged beats, and at times loaned his vocals while still jamming away. Lead guitarist and front man Andrew Bianculli delivered a mellow and smooth vocal performance. At times three members at once harmonized for an amazing display of vocal talent.
Bassist Marshall Bausum, dressed more appropriately for a summer night at the beach than a jam band playing in Philly, kept to the side and delivered smooth bass lines throughout the set.
The entire short set built from beginning to end, ending in an expansive instrumental break down that had a large segment of the crowd on their feet and dancing. Both percussionists where killing it while both guitarists had their hands full filling the venue with their distinctive dance able band sound. While people were trying to get their groove on in the crowd, the staff quickly hopped into action and tried to clear out some tables for the crowd to spill into the front. Unfortunately, as with previous acts the set was over almost as soon as it seemed like it was getting started. If you have a chance to see Earthtone perform a full set, definitely be ready to sweat and dance your ass off.
Finally, it was time for the headliner of the night, The Sea Trio. With four members, you have to wonder if the name is intentionally ironic or simply due to the recent addition of clarinet player Jennie. In a bittersweet gesture, this was actually lead guitarist Stuart‘s last show with the band. In a twist of odd timing, the CD they were releasing of that night, Lily Sky, has his name listed right in the main credits. No reason is given for his departure with the group, but judging by the mood the split seems amicable.
The band set the stage with two sets of keyboards, driven on the left by current member Andy performing bass sounds and main keyboard driven melodies , and in the middle guest keyboards Aaron Aleiner from the band Music For Headphones filling in for regular member Ephraim Asili, who normally provides electronic beats to the group’s sound.
In adding texture and visual treats to the performance, they setup two small TV’s on either side of the stage playing various abstract video footage, and an electro-static orb much like you find in Hot Topic.
However, I had to wonder if perhaps the band had it in for me. The lights were set very dimly with a reddish glow, and during the set the orb , which was placed on a monitor, vibrated off and crashed right at my feet. Surrounded by glass I tried to signal that I did not indeed touch it. Though at the end of the show nobody seemed too worried about the damage.
As mentioned before, The Sea Trio is an instrumental group. Mixing ambient sounds of clarinet, guitar, keyboards and electronic beats, it was almost a surreal experience. I wanted more to just sit and mellow out, rather than perform my duties of taking pictures.
Oddly, the headliner’s set was seemingly entirely too short.. One by one, the performers put down their instruments, and walked off the stage, until all that was left was main keyboardist Andy finishing out the last song. The set ended on a very calm and relaxing note, shortly after 12am.
After wishing Stuart good luck with his future endeavors, and insisting to Andy that I did not break his glass orb, I headed out for the night, hoping to see each act on the bill once again performing in their own element. Overall, it was a night as tasty as the eggplant fries on World Café’s menu [Ed. Note: Seriously delicious!].
The Sea Trio’s newest release Lily Sky is available now via their myspace page.
Filed under: concerts | Tagged: concert review, earthtone, ed roper, infinien, iron, philadelphia, the sea trio, vorcan, world café live | 1 Comment »