Setting Sun – John & Peter’s, New Hope Pa.

John and Peter’s, a tiny bar tucked away on Main Street in New Hope, Pa. has featured live music 7 days a week, 365 days a year for over 35 years. Famous acts such as Norah Jones, Mary Chapin Carpenter, George Thorogood and Ween have all taken the stage downstairs at John & Peter’s as up-and-coming acts. This past Friday night was my first time in John & Peter’s and I had the pleasure of seeing up and comers Setting Sun. Gary Levitt, who plays guitar and provides lead vocals, is joined by Erica Quitzow on the violin, also lending backing vocals. The New Paltz, Ny. based duo are both band and labelmates twice over — the each have their own projects, Setting Sun and Quitzow, respectively, but both play in each other’s project and share their own label, Young Love Recordings.

Joining the pair on Friday night were Topu Lyo (Skidmore Foundation, Domestic Mosquitoes) on cello and Miles Kennedy on drums. It always impresses me to see a band with classical string instruments, so I fell in love before even the first note was played. The four previewed most of Setting Sun’s forthcoming album Children of the Wild (due in June), almost in its tracklisting order. Their opener, “What We Wanted,” drew cheers from the crowd as the energy on stage radiated from Levitt and Quitzow, who then launched into the dark yet driving and incredibly catchy “No Devil me no More.” The drum hook gets you. Go to Setting Sun’s myspace page (open in a new tab, thanks) immediately and stream this song and just try to not play it over and over and over. Really. Go.

A sugary sweet violin part stole the show on “How Long,” a rather jaunty tune, minimal on percussion but maxed out on awesome. Following the bouncy tune, Levitt informed the audience, “We’re gonna try to calm down a little bit.” Slow it down they did, with “Carry me Away.” Quitzow and Lyo harmonized in a low key on their respective string instruments and Levitt matched with almost baritone vocals. Quitzow then pulled off beautiful and melodic riffs on her violin as the song ended.

Levitt introduced the next song, “Slob,” saying, “This is a song about being a very messy person.” The crowd laughed as Setting Sun launched into an upbeat tune with Quitzow picking up a tambourine in lieu of her violin, and the foursome proved their skill as musicians, playing very tightly. The band looked back to 2002 as they played “Holy Days” off Setting Sun’s debut Holed Up. “Holy Days” started off as a typical singer/songwriter tune, but soon took a dark and heavy turn atop a driving beat. It during this song that the lights at John and Peter’s flickered, alerting the audience to last call.

The flickering of the lights wass ignored and Quitzow told the sound guy to “Turn up the drums for this one!” as the band broke into the intensely melodic and driving “Happy Joy.” The set ended just as bouncy with the upbeat love song “The Only One” from 2005’s Math and Magic and “Overjoyed”. On the former Levitt sang, “You’re the only one I had to be there for / There’s a absence and a spark that I cannot ignore / You’re the only one,” over a driving snare drum and smooth riffs.

Though short on time, Setting Sun managed to fit in their entire set list by speeding up each song a little bit to fit within their time constraints. Levitt and crew have a ridiculous amount of energy that kept me in love with them throughout the entire set. I had a great time seeing Setting Sun and wouldn’t hesitate recommending you catch them live as often as possible (tour dates below). Their spirit and energy is infectious and you’ll leave the show a happier person, even if just for the night.

more @ flickr

Setting Sun will be releasing their new album, Children of the Wild, on June 10th. We have a copy (which we’re stoked about!), so check back for a review!

Set List: What we Wanted, No Devil me no More, How Long, Carry me Away, Slob, Holy Days (Holed Up, 2002), Happy Joy, The Only One (Math and Magic, 2005), Overjoyed

Tour Dates:
Apr 26 – Bacchus/New Paltz, Ny. (w/ Verdes)
Jun 24 – The Khyber/Philadelphia, Pa.
Jun 28 – The Spazzatorium Galleria/Greenville, Nc. (w/ Quitzow)
Jul 02 – Murphy’s/Memphis, Tn. (w/ The Warbles & Quitzow)
Jul 07 – The Atomic Cantina/Albuquerque, Nm. (w/ Bellemah & Quitzow)
Jul 12 – Jambalaya/Arcata, Ca. (w/ John Ludington & Quitzow)
Jul 16 – Neurolux/Boise, Id. (w/ Quitzow)
Jul 21 – Mac’s/Lansing, Mi. (w/ Quitzow)
Jul 22 – Von’s (aka Vault 13)/Detroit, Mi.


Setting Sun: website | myspace
Young Love Records: website | myspace

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One Response

  1. […] Sun: website | myspace | review of, listen to Children of the Wild | live review Quitzow: myspace | review of, listen to Art College Young Love Records: website | […]

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