July 4th weekend is a hard day to pack a show. Everybody is down at the beach, barbecuing or off somewhere getting drunk, and not usually doing the latter at a bar/music venue. But even with the crowd situation not at an optimal level, the bands that played last Thursday night at Philadelphia’s North Star Bar still gave a good effort.
Up first was Tony Mecca and his trio of two guitars and a backup singer (who later pulled double duty with the headliner). Mecca’s stripped down bluesy sound seemed to clash against the rest of the acts that night. He still played with all his heart and bragged to the crowd that playing first allows him to go home and get to sleep earlier.
A real treat that night was Caves of Mercury. A side project made up of four members of different bands (most notably Philadelphia’s own The Capitol Years), their melodic, shoegazey type sound quickly grabbed my attention.
Caves is fronted by Lisa McHenry on bass, with husband Tom Bendel on drums, Lisa’s brother John McHenry on guitar, and the odd man out Kyle Lloyd on guitar and bass.
At about midway through the set, Lloyd took over drumming duties, with John taking lead guitar and vocal duties. The ever changing sound, with everybody pulling different roles, really kept you on your toes and engaged you. A fairly new band, they will be one to keep and eye on in the future.
Third on the bill was The Flight, a local band from Philadelphia. Loaded up with expensive, shiny new gear in road cases, one had to wonder if we were at a different show. While you appreciate the effort of anybody who gets on stage, I wish they would of focused less on image and expensive toys on stage, and more on composition of their songs.
Finally it was time for the much anticipated headliner, Milton And The Devils Party. To quote a good friend (our own Editor-in-Chief Jessica!), “anyone with John Milton and William Blake in their top friends [on MySpace] is OK by me.”
Lead singer Daniel Robinson prides himself on writing smart, engaging lyrics and his efforts definitely show. Robinson strikes you as somebody simply born to be doing what he does, both on stage and off. His voice seems almost perfectly matched to the feel and sounds of his band.
With a quick listen of their latest CD, How Wicked We’ve Become, their influences such as REM, The Smiths, The Kinks, and others shine through.
Lead guitar work provided my Mark Graybill sounded bright and amazing with his shiney Rickenbacker guitars through a classic Vox amp. It was as if this band studied hard the late 80’s – early 90’s sound, took what they could from it, and ran in a nice new direction. Drummer Bob Falgie and his beautiful drum kit provided a solid backbeat to the basic one guitar, one bass sound.
Robinson’s vocals fill a much needed void in this current musical climate. With smart, tongue-in-cheek titles like “I’ve Had Your Wife,” and “Too Old To Die,” you find yourself doing something rare in a performance: actually paying attention.
Unfortunately, I was only able to make it about 3/4 of the way through their set that night. I was simply worn down from a grueling day and couldn’t stay awake much longer. It was kind of humbling to outlasted by a band consisting of members obviously older than myself. But then again, that’s one thing that just simply makes Milton & The Devils Party simply awesome.
Milton & The Devils Party CD “How Wicked We’ve Become” is out now.
Filed under: concerts | Tagged: bob falgie, caves of mercury, concert review, daniel robinson, kyle lloyd, lisa mchenry, mark graybill, milton & the devil's party, north star bar, philadelphia, the capitol years, the flight, tom bendel, tony mecca |