Philadelphia New Music Night @ North Star Bar, 6/17/2008

It’s not often that a new band playing their first show steals it and blows the doors off. And it’s even rarer for an opening act to be allowed to play an encore, or even demanded to play one for that matter.

But Tuesday night, something was in the air. Perhaps it was the lack of 90+ degree heat in the North Star on this particular night.

It has been a while since I’ve been to the mighty North Star. I usually only frequent it in the cooler months, as they are notorious for their lack of air conditioning in the summer. But with a 70 degree wind blowing and clear skies, I had to head out. At most, I was expecting to hear 1 or 2 good bands, and hoping to get a few decent shots.

First up was Steve Goldberg & The Arch Enemies, a local act from Philadelphia. Their infectious groove of indie pop rock and Mr. Goldberg’s distinctive black framed glasses begged comparisons to early Elvis Costello.

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Their sound was upbeat and had you tapping your foot along in no time. By the end of the set, as they were switching off their amplifiers the crowd started chanting for an encore. And they kept on chanting. In a surprise move, the sound man gave the thumbs up and amplifiers and drum kits were fired up once again for the appropriately titled song “The Road”.

Next, South Jersey’s 3 J’s In The A.M. took the stage with their 5 member brew of jam band sounds, up front and powerful vocals, and stoned out lyrics. It seemed as if every member of the band was getting in on the action. The drummer had a mic, the bassist moved from stage left to the mic at center stage, both guitarists, as well as their instrument less accompanying singer.

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It was an upbeat and powerful set, way outshining the demos they have posted on their myspace. If you want to get a better sense of what they sound like you can’t go wrong with seeing them in their element on stage.

With the crowd thoroughly wooed, it was time for Stone Thrown, another local Philly 4 piece act. Front man Judah Salem Kim did dual duty on guitar and keyboard with the act’s powerful indie rock sound. With two guitarists and keyboards in the mix, the sound was full and palatable. Christopher Robert Wolf on backing guitar helped add textures to the music when Kim was pulling duty on his giant Yamaha keyboard. By the end of their set all members were equally worked over and had thrown themselves into the performance.

After a brief set change, The Blahs took the stage with their new expanded lineup. Formerly a 2 piece between drummer Robby G. Bones and guitarist Michael J.H. Goodyear, they have since added keyboardist Sunshine May and backing guitarist B. Wise to fill out their eclectic mix of experimental indie rock. Mixing between Moog, shakers, and backing vocals, May brings a much appreciated ray of light with her dancing and upbeat stage presence. In a set that could feel at home on stage or in a basement show in West Philly, their loose experimental sound was welcome amongst the more refined and polished previous acts.

Finally, the thieves of the show, The Hotspots loaded up their three piece on stage, including a massive Mesa Boogie amp that was sure to rumble some eardrums. This was the band’s first ever live show together. Listening to their practice tunes on their myspace page still does not give fair enough warning for what was about to unravel.

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Guitarist and front man Kevin, in full rock and roll regalia wearing a Social Distortion t-shirt and bandanna, looked oddly similar to Social D. front man Mike Ness. Bassist “The Broad“, added both beauty and intense bass rhythms to the trio. Scott “The Animal” on drums added the back beat to their powerful, raw rock.

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Ripping through their set, you would of had no idea that this was their first ever live show. Even while referring to lyric sheets taped to the floor, Kevin barely missed a beat while delivering raw power chords and intense vocals.

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The band as a whole powered through their short set with so much intensity and passion it left everybody begging for more. The crowd was up and rocking the whole time. At the end of their last song, it seemed everybody in the crowd wanted to rush forward and give the band much deserved high fives and thanks. The band, still sweaty and barely off the stage jumped off the stage and soaked up the adoration graciously and with smiles the whole time.

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Thoroughly rocked, sweaty, and beat from a full night of shooting 5 bands in a row, I did my part and thanked the band for an incredible performance. Lead singer Kevin was humble and very appreciative, leaving a lasting impression that would make me definitely check them out again.

I headed off into the West Philadelphia night, ears ringing and smiling the whole way home. It was a great night, for local music and for this photographer. The Hotspots totally hit the spot.

by: Ed Roper

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2 Responses

  1. This band is a flower ready to busrt into “FULL BLOOM”!!
    Get out and catch them while the price is right as they are headed for the big time!
    Great Job Hot Spts

  2. Great job Hotspots
    I am so proud of you all & to Launi you did a Awsome job
    God Bless you all Good luck
    Love your Mom & Dad XOXOXOXO

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