By Lauren Gordon
“And now for something completely different…” the husky voice of tall, thin lead singer Nick Mehalick, 25, promises the crowd at Bordz Skate Park in Southampton.
With a drum stick in one hand, the other stroking the keys of the unofficial third band member, Cynthia the Synthesizer, a bull horn by his feet and his younger, self-taught 16-year-old guitarist brother, Mike, wielding his axe like he’d been playing longer than twice his lifetime… made the promise quite delivered.
It’s not easy to compare This Temper to anything else going on in the Philly local circuit, or mainstream music either. In fact, as cliché as it sounds, there really is nothing out their quite like this band of brothers, especially in terms of a live show. The best way to describe a performance in a word is explosive. As Nick sings transcendent lyrics, he rocks his drum kit so hard the show momentarily pauses so he can place a cinderblock in front of his bass drum.
While drumming and singing he plays Cynthia simultaneously. Both artists engage the crowd as well during theirperformance, Nick making his way into the crowd to free style lyrics to their song “The Romantic” to an entranced audience as Mike wails mercilessly on his guitar. The energy poured from the stage as on lookers tucked away in corners of the skate park weasel their way out to take a closer look at the undiscovered, local musical phenomenon.
At the end of the show, a box of free CD’s are placed at the bottom of the ramp off of the stage.
It’s a mad dash to grab a treasured freebie, and within seconds demos are swiped. Currently they’re working on developing album art which both Nick and Mike have created themselves, as well as diving into a hands-on experience with their entire production process. This Temper plans to bring their lively show across the country this summer, with dates already booked from New York to Chicago.
If you want to have an experience rather than see just another show, try to follow these brothers (literally) on their nationwide tour. It will surely be something completely different.
Rootsy, bluesy and soulful are all apt terms that could be applied to the eight-piece Philadelphia collective of musicians and friends known as Toy Soldiers. Listening to them, however, you can probably think of many more.
What began as a duo between lead vocalist and guitarist Ron Gallo and drummer Mike Baurer turned into a much larger project when Gallo employed the help of several more friends to play on their album in the studio.
“I guess they just never left,” Gallo joked. “We’ve been a big happy family since then.”
The group, which has included ten plus members for some live performances, released its debut LP, Whisper Down the Lane last fall. The smattering of influences that permeate the band’s sound include traditional country, folk, bluegrass, southern soul, delta blues and rock ‘n’ roll.
“Old-timey styles of music,” Gallo summed it up.
The group’s instrumentation often incorporates lively piano, banjo, acoustic guitar, brass instruments and a barrage of vocal harmonies. Gallo explained that the increased size of the band only aids its creativity.
“The addition of so much instrumentation has taken any limitation away that may have been there before,” Gallo said. “We can really go anywhere at this point, musically.”
Over the past month, Toy Soldiers have indeed gone somewhere: up and down the East Coast on a tour that will finish up tonight, back home.
Toy Soldiers. 9pm. Johnny Brenda’s. 21+. With The Great Unknown and TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb.
For more on Toy Soldiers, visit ohnotoysoldiers.com.
Photography by Josh Douglas Smith
Long time no see, Philanthem readers! I apologize for the unexpected hiatus for the past month. If you’re wondering where I’ve been (of course you have!), Lauren and I have been in the process of bringing in some more writing muscle to the team. So get used to seeing a few new faces around here shortly and we’re sure you’ll enjoy what they plan to bring to the table. Until then, let’s see some of what’s going on this weekend, shall we?
Saturday, October 10:
Our friend Brian Dibiagio will be crazy busy this Saturday as he’s playing two shows in two very different locales. First, he’ll be with Bill Monaghan in Allentown, NJ (yes, there is an Allentown in Jersey) at the Allentown Fall Festival, which seems to be a free event that starts at 9:30 a.m. After a bit a travel, Brian will be at the Edgmont Country Club with Round Tower in Newtown Square, PA for a show that begins at 8 p.m. and is also presumably free.
The New Divide will be headlining a show at the Cherrywood in Clememton, NJ with Jason Ager and the C.O.P.O, Open the Sky and Boss 302. Unfortunately for those under 21 (or without a fake I.D., but you didn’t hear that from us), the show is for those that wield that magical number of years. Tickets are $7.
A slow weekend in terms of quantity, but most definitely not in quality! Remember, if you are a in band or know one who would like to be featured in our concert previews, tip us off either on our Mypsace, Facebook group, or at email@example.com. Also, if you want to see our posts as soon as they happen, subscribe to the Philanthem Twitter feed.
Born and raised Philadelphia native Kurt Vile’s do-it-yourself grit fits perfect with the blue collar town he calls home.
The imaginative guitarist and songwriter, dubbed “Philly’s Constant Hitmaker,” has been working on finding unique sounds since he first picked up a banjo, and, later, a guitar. And with his brand new record Childish Prodigy (Matador), Vile may have found his mark.
The loud, pounding opener “Hunchback,” begins the album with a bang and the frenzied first single, “Freak Train,” showcases the unpredictable nature of Vile’s work. On the harmonica-infused groove “Inside Looking Out,” Vile’s volatile howling reminisces Jim Morrison over a distant jungle beat.
Deep cuts like “Blackberry Song” and “Overnite Religion” display Vile’s mastery of layered acoustic and electric guitars, which blend into a complex musical texture.
Prodigy is a complex web of songs, woven together into a tapestry of twisted brilliance from the mind of one of the most ingenious Philadelphia musicians. Perhaps unfortunately for Vile’s hometown fans, he may be on his way to bigger stages elsewhere.
Kurt Vile celebrates the release of his brand new album with a CD release show tonight, playing with his live band, the Violators, at Kung Fu Necktie in Fishtown. The show is set to start at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10.
After more than a decade of writing music and performing everywhere and anywhere, the Philadelphia singer-songwriter released her first fully-produced, full-length album, The One to Shine, at an intimate CD release show at the Tin Angel.
Micciulla’s new album, which she spent much of the summer working on finishing, is an eleven track folk rock diary, wrought with honesty, passion, hurt and restlessness. Her hard work has paid off in a big way on a glimmering album that combines her melodic acoustic playing and sweetly enchanting vocals with doses of soulful piano and tip-toeing percussion.
Friday, Micciulla returned to the Tin Angel, the venue at which she previously outshined other local musicians at a “Songwriters in the Round” event. This time around, she had the opportunity to perform some of her new material with the company of friends Irene Molloy and Kyle Swartzwelder, who contributed to the album.
Shine has been some 12 years in the making, but during that time, Micciulla has blossomed into an accomplished songwriter. It may be her time to be in full bloom.
TGIF in Philly my friends! I’m sure it was a long week for all of you, but it is finally over. And what better way is there to celebrate then going to see some of our favorite local bands do what they do best: play!
The New Divide, an alternative rock band with some unique vocal work by Ray Ray Pine, are playing St. Pauls in Levittown. The show starts at 8 p.m. and for $8.00 a ticket you can see them along with these guys. Check out what’s going on the rest of this weekend after the break. (more…)
Happy Friday, Philadelphians! Ready to go see some shows this weekend? Well, let’s see a bit of what’s playing because you have a variety to chose from.
A good friend of ours, Braxton Parker, is playing the Hard Rock Cafe on 12th and Market at 8 p.m. If you’re into a bit of what they call “Crunk” (what does that even mean?) on their Myspace, why not go for dinner and see a show for free? I can almost %100 guarantee it’ll be a good time. More previews after the break! (more…)
Hello there readers! Yes, the Philanthem team is finally back and cooking with gas (a brief month in another country set us back a wee bit). So, please do keep coming back to the site for news on upcoming shows and much more! Now, let’s see what’s going on this weekend around this beautiful city.
The Ruining, Static Radio and Make Do And Mend are playing The Fire tonight starting around 6:00 pm. Tickets are $7.00 and you can pick them up here (or probably at the door). A good ole Jersey punk show (with some friends from Connecticut) should be a rip-roaring good time. More previews after the break. (more…)
Drummer Adam Cohen and guitarist Matt Cannon don’t make up your typical band. Adam and Matt form As Opposed to Dead, which was formerly known as Try Angles. Fusing different types of music, As Opposed to Dead will surprise you with their originality and experimental music. The band has been playing gigs around the area in venues as small as hookah lounges and as large as the Crocodile Rock in Allentown. Recently I sat down with Adam and Matt to talk about the band and what lies ahead for them.
Hey Philanthemites. Sorry for the late post, but don’t worry there’s still some big things going on this week, including a show with a guest act from a band you may have heard of before…