Thursday night at Doc Watson’s the local punk scene came out to play. Noise complaints from neighboring restaurant Devi postponed the start time until 10pm, by which time West Chester’s Father Figure were raring to go. While Sean Steinmetz and Matthew Babenko record everything themselves in the studio, they brought a full band with them, and songs from their new EP, Dim, sounded just as tight as those from last year’s debut full-length, People Leave. While many of the effects and processing they use in their recorded material are unavailable live, especially with the limited sound check caused by the late start time, that change perhaps only increased the intensity of their passionate dual vocal attack. With memorable melodies and lyrics, incredible production quality, and the live show to back it up, Father Figure might just be the area’s best-kept secret.
The Escape were on second, continuing the vibe of masterful pop songwriting blasted through punk amplification. Down to two regular members as well, singer/guitarist Stephen Angello and bassist Joshua Solomon were joined only by a drummer rather than their usual additional guitarist, making for a stripped down take on songs mostly drawn from 2013′s New Direction. They’ve been gigging steadily around the local area rather than going on long tours like many in their genre, but that stability has not dulled their edge, churning bass, driving drums, and crispy guitar lines still forming an excellent backdrop for Angello’s crystal clear vocals and their songs of loves and friendships won and lost. They took a break from studio work on their next project to play this show, and the road test went well, with songs fitting flawlessly into their set regardless of age. You can catch them next Thursday, March 12th, at Kung Fu Necktie, where Andross will be playing the night before. Tim Balch of Andross is also a recent addition to Brosef Gordon-Levitt, so the two acts shared some similar sensibilities, as well as a drum kit. Standing front and center, legs planted, guitar in hand, the singer-songwriter and his compatriots form the perfect archetype of a pop-punk band, with lead guitarist Ryan Mattice, bassist and backing vocalist Terrell Atrophy, and drummer Nakul Agrawal rounding out the cast. There was a distinct decrease in pop tendencies from the previous acts, though, as the four young musicians combined their efforts to get the room as close to mosh pit intensity as possible. While they were mostly unsuccessful in that quest, it was through no fault of their own, as all four poured everything out on stage, much as Balch’s lyrics pour everything out in song.
In addition to a pun-tastically memorable name, Collegeville’s Brosef Gordon-Levitt have five members with a ridiculous amount of energy, guitarist and vocalist Balch’s perhaps most impressive having just finished a set with his other band. Frontman Tyler Lamkins trades vocals with guitarist Kevin Folk, the two presiding together over the propulsive rhythm section of Matt Troupe on bass and Tre Todd on drums. Their multi-pronged approach is reminiscent of the glory days of early Taking Back Sunday, particularly on crowd-requested closer “East Summit”, which opens with the lyric “So thanks for breaking me, I’ve had a bad case of writer’s block, ’cause these notes are overdue and if you have to ask this song’s about you”. That level of angst is par for the course for a band that started out intending to play Saves the Day and New Found Glory covers before they began writing originals. Most of the small crowd present had come to see them, and stuck right with them despite the lateness of the hour on what was undoubtedly a school night for most of them. Having patiently waited through the postponed start time and consequently abbreviated set times, the audience was rewarded with an excellent performance, especially for such a young band. Brosef Gordon-Levitt has a lot of potential, and will certainly capitalize on it if they continue to work this hard.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC