The minute I walked in the door for Sisters3 CD release party I knew that this was going to be one of the best, most fun shows I’d ever have the pleasure of attending. Immediately upon getting my hand stamped, performer Paco Fish asked me if I’d like a party hat — I chose orange — and saw Johnny Brenda’s decorated with streamers hanging from the ceiling while the stage was adorned with balloons, presents and stuffed animals in party hats.
As soon as the music got underway, my suspicions of a fantastic show were confirmed. Sisters3 kicked off their party with a lovely song a capella before introducing emcee “Santa Claus” to officially start the show. We were later tipped off that Santa was actually the younger brother of Sisters3. His shtick involved telling an unbearably corny joke and introducing bands. He made it work, though. I think it was the mask.
It’s a rare thing for any Philadelphia resident, no matter how shallowly submerged in the Philadelphia music scene, to not have heard of Hezekiah Jones. For months I’d heard the name all around the city, often playing shows in local hotspots, yet it wasn’t until the Sisters3 CD Release party that I was able to see the group in action.
In my opinion, there is probably no better act to pair Sisters3 with on a bill than Hezekiah Jones. While listening to the beautiful sounds that emanated from the stage, I was mentally kicking myself in the face for not having made it top priority to see this six-piece sooner. Front man Hezekiah’s (nee Raphael Cutrufello) vocals were subtly sexy against the country-tinged (think Jenny Lewis) folk pop that the rest of the band created around him.
Whenever I think of The Extraordinaires, who followed Hezekiah’s set, I cannot separate them from famed fellow Philadelphians Man Man, which is nothing but positive as my love for the often outrageous Man Man is no secret. I first saw the five perform opening Man Man’s CD Release show back in April of this year and was excited to find another band with the same avant garde sound.
Friday night, the Extraordinaires not only embraced the show’s party theme, but kicked it up a few hundred notches following the more serene set of Hezekiah Jones. The Extraordinaires upbeat and funky sounds got the crowd moving, especially Sisters3 who made it their business to be front and center during the set.
The entire set was non-stop party time fun, but it was “A Cactus Named Hi-Five” that really threw everything into high gear. Not a body in all of Johnny Brenda’s was still as front man Jay Purdy split some riffs on his fishtar [fig. 1]. It is without a doubt that the Extraordinaires amped up the crowd and settled them in for the best that was yet to come.
Upon receiving Star Spangled back in July, I was absolutely impressed with what Anna Christie, Beatrice and Cassandra had done with their debut full-length. I’d seen the trio perform previously so I expected a tight and lovely set, and what I was met with Friday night was so much more than that.
The single a capella song at the beginning of the evening was only a preview as to how wonderful Sisters3 are live. Anna Christie sang and played guitar with a burning passion as Cassandra effortlessly tickled the keys and Beatrice provided percussive flourishes that make each song complete.
On “Soldier Song,” cabaret performer Paco Fish enchanted the audience with what can only be called a regressive strip tease. He emerged from backstage in a Marine uniform before shedding a layer of clothing to reveal Army fatigues. Over the course of “Soldier’s Song,” Paco slowly reverted to a state of toddler-dom, stomping around playing with a toy gun in a wonderful display of striking social commentary.
The entire set performed by Sisters3 was stunning. Be sure to see them for yourself when they play a smattering of dates in and around Philadelphia this fall. You can also catch the at CMJ 2008.
Soldier Song (feat. Paco Fish)
Little Lainy Lou
Star Spangled (download)
All The Working People