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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Daytrotter Barnstormer Tour @ Turner Hall Ballroom

April 28, 2010

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As the only straight-forward rock ’n’ roll band signed to the esteemed dance/electronic label DFA, Philadelphia’s Free Energy attracted the immediate affections of the music blogosphere last year, but like so many buzz bands, their stock plummeted after they released a full-length record. Their new-band mystique already exhausted, the group was sandwiched unceremoniously toward the bottom of a bill sponsored by the music blog Daytrotter Wednesday night at the Turner Hall Ballroom, where they took the stage at the early hour of 8 p.m., before much of the audience had arrived. If they were disappointed, though, they certainly didn’t show it. Wearing infectious smiles, Free Energy charmed the meager crowd with buoyant, power-pop riffs and a set of songs that strived for nothing more than to recreate the joyous feel of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”

The pair of Americana acts that followed Free Energy drew from very different sounds but filled the stage similarly well. Backed by a reserved four-piece band, Missouri singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff drew from the same cotton-soft tones as many of his 20-something indie-folk peers, but distinguished himself with the deep, battered voice of a true country singer. It’s a voice remarkable for both its rich, gospel undertones—which came across beautifully during a duet with Rateliff’s upright bassist Julie Davis—and its unexpected power. On the set’s bigger numbers, it transformed into a full-lunged bellow that could have carried for acres.
2010-04-29

The California quintet Delta Spirit also understood the power of volume. They are easily among the most feral of indie-rock’s abundant new breed of Americana revivalists, suggesting the rough-and-tumble country of early-’70s Rolling Stones, as baptized in a river of pianos and percussive clatter a la the Cold War Kids. With his steely, snarled voice, singer Mathew Vasquez worked the crowd with the sinister confidence of a cult leader, demanding audience participation. “If you’re feeling what I’m feeling, come on!” he hollered. “All you soul-searching people, come on!” The crowd clapped along like it had no say in the matter.

Though they were ostensibly the headliner, the New York indie-pop ensemble Ra Ra Riot struggled to match the energy of the night’s preceding acts.

Photos by CJ Foeckler

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