From now on, all blog posts will be made at blog.wkdu.org! Please update your bookmarks accordingly.
Words by Brooklyn Fellner Photos by Kayla Aughenbaugh
Union Transfer was particularly spooky this Halloween as they welcomed Mom Jeans, Just Friends, Retirement Party, and Awakebutstillinbed to their stage. With a large following, Mom Jeans announced on Instagram that they wanted everyone to dress up for their show. So, the Union Transfer was jam-packed with bloodied bodies, fairy princesses, and Dragon Ball Z characters that transformed the floor from pop-punk kids into a sea of disguised music lovers. The high ceilings and old architecture was the perfect setting for the holiday, as fog machines began to pump the floor with eerie faux smoke. Arriving in time for Awakebutstillinbed, I was greeted by the lead singer, Shannon Taylor in the lobby of the building next to a row of merch tables. She frantically gave me a press pass labeled “Nerd,” which I suppose was a joke made up by the box office at the UT. Shannon was then on stage setting up with her band two minutes later.
The band opened with a song about Philly, as Shannon disclosed she had lived here for some time. Paying homage to the city, Shannon credits her development as a DIY artist to the punk and emo culture that Philadelphia has to offer. A fast paced guitar mixed with a downcast melody and a hoarse, female voice radiated emo vibrations throughout the venue. Taylor’s voice resonated through UT, echoing with every scream she belted into the microphone. She moved all over the stage between verses, headbanging with her bandmates and slamming on her guitar in unison with the bassist. When it came to their third song, “fathers,” a more upbeat song with punk influences, the audience as well as the band were in sync with each other and it became clear to me that Awakebutstillinbed had a huge following in Philadelphia.
As the set went on, the music became more depressing in a thoughtful way, not a “this-is-so-sad-I-want-to-cry” type of way, but as a heartfelt connection to the feelings Shannon had. The last song played was particularly filled with emotion, and the band truly portrayed that as they played. The dark, soulful song ended with Shannon throwing her guitar under her arm, across her back and finishing with her chilling lyrics alone in the microphone. After the short set, Taylor escorted myself and Kayla backstage for an interview. There were several backstage rooms equipped with a large couch where Shannon plopped down on and began eating chicken wings. Her drummer and father accompanied us as we did the interview…. (interview at end of article).
Words and photos by WKDU guest writer Madison Kierod
Vundabar brought Philly out of hibernation on Tuesday, March 6th with their sold-out show at PhilaMOCA. Devoted fans had been awaiting their return to the City of Brotherly Love since their show at the First Unitarian Church with The Frights and Hockey dad this past November. This time, the Boston punk/surf/math rockers headlined the show with support from Chicago-natives Ratboys, and D.C. indie rock duo, The Obsessives. The intimate venue was decorated with paintings and prints from local artists, allowing the performance to become tailored and personal for Philly fans.
The band jumped right in with their upbeat new single, “Acetone” off of their 2017 record Smell Smoke, and, after some dramatic pauses and heckling from the audience, continued the show with fan-favorite “Chop” from their second studio album Gawk. This single particularly showcases the band’s ability merge catchy vocal melodies with crunchy guitar tones, and incorporate tempo changes from Grayson Kirtland’s groovy bass lines to Drew McDonald’s quick, almost frantic drum solos. The progression was inherently entertaining to watch and the urge to dance was hard to resist.
Consistent with the name of their first studio album, their show was certainly filled with Antics. Their fun, high-energy tunes kept the audience jumping, and lead singer Brandon Hagan’s commentary between sets kept them laughing with cheeky rants promoting their band, asking for food, and asking silly, rhetorical questions such as “what do you sound like when you sweat?”. His witty sense of humor even kept the audience entertained while dealing with some noise interference mid-show, as the band had to overcome what Brandon described as “the crickly-crackly.”
Part of Vundabar’s charm is in their unpredictability, their improvisational dance moves, facial expressions, and vocal runs while jamming and soloing mid-song. No track shows this better than “$$$”, where the band took a 2-minute detour to exchange solos just to build up to a clean and abrupt end to the song.
The songs off of their newest album Smell Smoke such as “Diver” have a slower vibe, and were aptly placed in the middle of their set This left room for extra-long, extra-loud, extra-crunchy renditions of one of their more mosh-able tunes “Alien Blues” and “Voodoo” for last.
Overall, Vundabar’s set was tight and precise, yet natural and energetic–a difficult balance that their fan base acknowledges and appreciates. The band’s animated stage presence emanated into the audience, and kept the whole crowd moving (and laughing) for their entire hour-long set. The fun-loving band was exactly what the audience needed to get out of our houses on that cold and soggy Tuesday. Without a doubt, Vundabar fans will be anxiously awaiting their return to the east coast.