By Ashley McAteer
As eager fans flooded the border of the spacious venue, people continued to pile in and fill the area surrounding the stage. Turbo Fruits are to start momentarily and word of mouth has interested many people enough to come early and check them out. The Weight’s “Take a Load Off” began to fade out and the shaggy guys of Turbo Fruits headed to the stage. The set began with “Ain’t The Only One Having Fun” which immediately drew interest with it’s stir-your-brain sound. Although their inaudible voices between songs sent fans into a confused whisper, Turbo Fruits proved they know how to get loud. By their last song, the crowd’s reaction had only gotten more exciting, mirroring the energy of the band. I wouldn’t be surprised if their newly released “Sweet Thang” was in the possession of many show-goers after a performance like that.
Next up, the unique sound of J Roddy Walston and The Business began with “Don’t Break the Needle.” Their classic rock based, easily recognizable sound held a modern tinge which really made them stand out. The second they began their set, it was easy to see this is a band doing their own thing and they’re doing it right. There is a certain side of yourself that can’t help but identify with their dad-approved sound. With songs about drinking beer with your friends flooding the speakers, the amount of people with beer in hand seemed to begin multiplying. A full bar is typical of any show Lucero plays, so J Roddy was able to add to the fun and more than likely double some bar tabs. After crowd participation was encouraged, the crowd swayed in unison really finding it hard not to move to the music of J Roddy Walston and The Business. They definitely know how to make a show their own, even if only for a set, leaving the crowd roaring with compliments post performance.
With the band’s name spelled out in lights glowing brightly behind them, the similarly well-dressed guys of Deer Tick took the stage. The band started their set with “The Bump” confessing “We’re full grown men, We act like kids“. The vocals flowed nicely with the instrumentals creating an adaptable feel-good vibe fans and new-comers alike could get into. Despite Deer Tick’s reputation of drunken banter, not much was said aside from praise of the rest of the bill. A shocking voice projected from drummer Dennis Ryan during “Clownin Around,” catching the crowds attention. The vibe changed with the start of this song and it was near impossible to keep your eyes off of Ryan to be certain that incredible voice was coming from him. Aside from the heightening real feel of “Clownin Around”, J Roddy Walston and The Business joined the stage for “Funny Word” and a Replacements cover highlighted the set. With the guitar work during “Let’s All Go to the Bar”, it was easy to see the fans weren’t the only ones having fun that night.
As expected by Lucero’s faithful fans, their set was impressive. The band opened with “Darken My Door” and Ben Nichols’ voice is so unique and inviting fans looked entranced as they sang along. By the time the band got to play “Nights Like These,” the floor was shaking from the tapping of fans’ feet. Always the climax of an already astonishing performance, Lucero owned their cover of Jawbreaker’s “Kiss the Bottle.” Moments later their banner was brought down revealing a new banner covered with the image of a drink accompanied by an ashtray full of cigarettes. It was only fitting to see Ben Nichols following this by doing a shot explaining “this feels like a house party.” He wasn’t far off in referring to the show as a house party seeing as how only songs later a dispute in the crowd had to be dissolved and finished with bassist John Stubblefield telling the crowd to “look out for everybody.” This minor detail took nothing away from the rich blend of instruments, Nichols’ strong voice and that southern soul their many devoted fans know and love.
With an insane bill of bands who all brought their own style and pushed it hard, this was a show to remember. John McCauley of Deer Tick even acknowledged the note-worthy line-up by stating that he would be there even if Deer Tick weren’t playing. Philly’s Union Transfer housed a booze-filled all around good time with bands all worth catching again.