The Ruby Suns – The Barbary, Philadelphia Pa.

Recent Sub Pop New Zealand acquisition The Ruby Suns brought their brand of ambient indie pop to Philadelphia’s The Barbary, playing with The Private Sea and opening for Le Loup, last week as part of the promotional tour for their newest album Sea Lion. The Barbary is an intimate venue and was filled by the time The Ruby Suns took the stage not long after 7PM awash in red spotlights.

The show opened with a long echo as frontman Ryan McPhun held his guitar and stood in front of the drum kit, while band mates Amee Robinson and Imogen Taylor played the flute and xylophone creating a dreamy melody which clashed with the menacingly red spotlights shining on the trio. McPhun set up rhythmic beats with trippy outerspace-like effects coming from the keyboards [wo]manned by Taylor. For having to play both drums and guitar, McPhun seemed to transition fairly easily between the two and he played both with expertise.

A few songs into the set, the band was visibly annoyed with what they heard coming through the speakers and monitors as The Barbary’s sound guy wasn’t doing his job well. The Ruby Suns delved into a heavier sound which felt more right with the red lights but ended up being a sloppily played tune as the three remained visibly irked by the sound problems over which they had no control. McPhun apologized if he was singing too softly, but was getting shocked each time he brought his lips to the microphone, so he needed to stay back a bit.

The next song saw the band get back on track with their playing and they turned out a tight and well-played melodic number as none of the band members overextended themselves trying to play too many instruments at once. The track that was again sloppy; McPhun’s constant changing from guitar to drums and the girls’ changes between several different instruments, seemed to frazzle them even further as the sound guy’s skills failed to improve. McPhun apologized for the “couple of techanicals” and the last two songs of the set managed to come together and provide hard and loud beats that reverberated throughout The Barbary over soft melodic keyboards underneath.

The Ruby Suns’ melodic pop is fun and easylistening, but the band seems to be in too many places at once, trying to cover all the sounds in the live show that they include in the record, which is not such an easy feat with only three members. The venue’s sound problems exacerbated the situation, so I feel it may have just been an off day for The Ruby Suns and not indicative of their usual live performance.

Check out The Ruby Suns, on tour now with Le Loup, with Throw Me The Statue in April and with Foals in May. Dates below:

Tour Dates:
24 Mar – Union Hall//Brooklyn NY
25 Mar – T T The Bears//Cambridge MA
27 Mar – Waldron Arts Center//Bloomington IN
28 Mar – Schubas//Chicago IL
29 Mar – 1st Ave, 7th St Entry//Minneapolis MN
01 Apr – Chop Suey//Seattle WA
04 Apr – Bottom of the Hill//San Francisco CA
05 Apr – The Echo//Los Angeles CA (early show)
06 Apr – The Casbah//San Diego CA
07 Apr – Modified//Phoenix AZ
09 Apr – Lola’s//Ft. Worth TX
11 Apr – The Yauhaus//Charlotte NC
14 Apr – The Drunken Unicorn//Atlanta GA
15 Apr – Bottletree Cafe//Birmingham AL
16 Apr – The Mink//Houston TX
18 Apr – Mohawk//Austin TX
19 Apr – Lola’s//Ft. Worth TX
30 Apr – Alvin’s//Detroit MI
01 May – Showplace Theatre//Buffalo NY
02 May – Lee’s Palace//Toronto ONT
03 May – Cabaret Music Hall//Montreal QUE
05 May – Higher Ground Lounge//Burlington VT
06 May – Middle East Downstairs//Boston MA
07 May – Maxwell’s//Hoboken NJ
08 May – Union Hall//Brooklyn NY
19 July – Pitchfork Festival – Chicago IL

The Ruby Suns: website | myspace

[where: 951 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19125]

One Response

  1. […] the third time really is a charm. I had the pleasure of first seeing them perform this past Spring at the Barbary in Philadelphia following the release of Sea Lion. That night the venue, which self-proclaims […]

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