by Lauren Rosier
On Friday night, the sounds of beautiful singer/songwriter folk music plunged into the ears of music lovers at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer. Native Philadelphia indie folk band Good Old War returned home for a holiday show and invited The Voice season 8 winner, Sawyer Fredericks, to open the band’s three holiday shows this year.
The room was pretty well crowded on both the main floor and balconies on the first floor and second floor and consisted of a wide variety of ages. It seemed as though many were there to see Sawyer perform, but the crowd roared when Good Old War took to the stage.
It’s hard to believe a 16-year-old kid like Sawyer Fredericks can have a voice that seasoned and mature sounding. He started his set around 9:00 PM and played until about 9:45 PM. He opened with track “Early Morning” and closed out his performance with “Not My Girl.” A highlight was the track, “Four Pockets,” an upbeat and raw song.
His 45-minute set consisted of mostly originals that he wrote as early as the age of 12. Many of the songs were filled with lyrics of experiences and emotions kids that age haven’t even experienced yet, but somehow the maturity and rawness of his voice is able to channel those feelings, and make the listener believe him.
Good Old War was fabulous as ever taking the stage at 10 PM sharp and opened the set with a rockin’ performance of their latest single, “Tell Me What You Want From Me,” taken from their most recent record, Broken Into Better Shape. It was such a perfect song to open a show with: an upbeat, rock-filled, sing along featuring Dan Schwartz’s unbelievable guitar work. It even blasted the audience with tons of winter themed confetti, which was incredibly fun.
The guys played a 15-song set plus a three-song encore that included “Stay By My Side” featuring incredibly talented Philly native, Ali Wadsworth. Many of the songs were from the band’s previous releases prior to Broken Into Better Shape; though, I would’ve enjoyed hearing more from their latest record because it’s probably their most cohesive album to date. Tunes like “Weak Man” (without Anthony Green) and “Coney Island” are always crowd favorites.
About ten songs into the set following “Window,” Goodwin introduced the drummer, Keenan, as original touring member, Tim Arnold, couldn’t make the show. Keenan was an incredibly talented drummer in so many ways.
The thing about Good Old War’s live performances is that they always give it their all. I’ve been to tons and tons of their shows over the years and each and every one has been better than the last. They just continue to get better and better. Frontman Keith Goodwin and guitarist Dan Schwartz have always seemed to be very genuine in their performances and interviews, very appreciative, and accessible. And each time they come home to Philadelphia to perform, it’s always a very special night.