The Stills @ Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia Pa.

Last night, one of Canada’s hottest exports, The Stills, kicked off their headlining tour at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia, and I was lucky enough to attend. I have to give a big thank you to keyboarder Liam O’Neil who swooped in just in time to guarantee my admittance; the guy at the door didn’t have my name but Liam happened to be walking over at the moment I arrived to make sure they knew I was coming. Thanks, Liam!

The tour is a preview of their forthcoming third album, which is expected to drop late this summer. If the show last night was any indication of what the new album will sound like, I suggest pre-ordering it now.

Check out the new video for “Snake-charming the Masses” then read all about last night’s show.

I arrived early to catch openers Wildlife perform for the very first time in Philadelphia. The New Hampshire quartet opened with a huge melodic sound that snapped me out of the sleepy daze I was in. My sentiment was shared by the rest of the crowd who bounced along to Wildlife’s bouncy and upbeat melodies that were set to almost syncopated percussion beats. By the time Wildlife was performing their last song, Johnny Brenda’s was the fullest I’ve ever seen it. The crowd was at a roar and just totally psyched for The Stills to take the stage.

At 11:15PM, the overhead lights dimmed and the crowd cheered and whooped like it was going out of style. The Stills took the stage to a loud and excited audience clapping waiting patiently for the five-some to set-up and do their last minute sound check. Excitement ran throughout the venue as an epic drum beat introduced The Stills’ first song. Throughout the entire set, I was consistently impressed with drummer Julien Blais who made it seem like he’d invented this concept called drumming. Guitarists Tim Fletcher and Dave Hamelin totally shredded, as did Olivier Corbeil on bass while Liam tore up the keyboards.

The crowd loved absolutely everything that The Stills threw at them, and I can’t blame them. The band was absolutely high-energy and totally fed off of the crowd’s love for them. Every single song was well-crafted and absolutely tight and even the suits on the balcony were shaking it. The Stills definitely deserved the packed venue and elated welcome they received in Philadelphia. They have a huge wall of sound presence that makes for an amazing live show, which they executed almost flawlessly last night.

As the set neared its end, the riffs and rhythm got funkier as the wall of sound continued to grow. I was still hugely impressed with Blais’ drumming skills as he went in and out of Afro beats and pseudo-syncopated rhythms; he was an absolute beat in all the best possible ways. Fletcher and Hamelin played with feedback as an introduction on a song they played hard and fast, proving their abilities to slay with the best of them. They ended their energetic set with a short and quick burst of a song that only left the crowd wanting more.

The crowd got what the crowd wanted in a three-song encore, which got under way well after midnight. The crowd started to disperse as most of us realized it was a Wednesday night and we all had work in the morning, but as the encore started, everyone stopped dead in their tracks to soak up the last of The Stills. The guys wrapped up with a song in their “semi-native French” followed by a brand new, never before played song called “Panic.” “Panic” was so high energy and amazing that I stopped taking notes in my little journalist corner and danced around the balcony instead.

I was 100% impressed with The Stills stage presence and mastery of their instruments. I’m totally stoked for the new album (which I wouldn’t be surprised to find a glowing review of right here on PopWreck(oning) closer to its street date), but I highly recommend checking out this hot Canadian commodity.


Tour Dates:
3/6/08 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Small’s
3/7/08 – Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s
3/8/08 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
3/13/08 – Austin, TX @ Emo’s/Canvas Media – AV Club – Arts&Crafts – Saddle Creek, 3pm
3/14/08 – Austin, TX @ The Fader Fort, 6pm
3/15/08 – Austin, TX @ Beauty Bar, 4pm
3/15/08 – Austin, TX @ The Parish/Arts&Crafts Showcase, 1am

The Stills: website | myspace

[where: 1201 N. Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125]

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One Response

  1. Sounds great! I can’t wait for their new album, hopefully Tim will sing lead again.

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