by Matt Kelchner
Saturday night one of Philadelphia’s most buzzed about artists Hop Along took to the stage at Union Transfer to celebrate the release of their latest album, Painted Shut. From the band’s signing to Saddle Creek earlier this year to the record’s release on May 4th, the hype surrounding Painted Shut quickly snowballed into one of the year’s most anticipated releases. After spending much of the past year playing support to a number of different tours and bands, Hop Along is ready to make the big step in becoming another breakout artist from the City of Brotherly Love.
Fellow locals Clique and Thin Lips joined Hop Along for a night full of showing off some of the best up and coming talent coming out of Philadelphia. Fans and concertgoers made sure to pack Union Transfer for Hop Along’s big night and they filled the venue early. As the night went on, things only became more and more packed.
Well known in ever popular basement scene around the city, emo tinged rockers Clique started the night off. Their set including a number of cuts from their excellent self titled debut release (which is getting pressed to vinyl thanks to Broken World Media). The bigger stage and larger crowd Saturday night was no problem for the relatively young band as they powered through song after song.
Helping Hop Along with the first section of their tour were Thin Lips. Made up of the brother/sister duo of Chrissy and Michael Tashjian, formerly of Dangerous Ponies, along with 1994! guitarist Kyle Pulley. Thin Lips picked up right where Clique left off and delivered their own blend of punk tinged indie rock, featuring a few tracks off latest EP release, Divorce Year, including the album’s title track.
“How many people are here because Replacements tickets were too expensive?” frontwoman Frances Quinlan asked the audience early on. If she could have had the chance to step back during any one of her songs and witness the number of people singing along (sorry for the existentialist moment there) , she would have seen that clearly the answer was 0. Painted Shut came out just a handful of days before the group’s homecoming but it already felt like a seasoned classic.
Quinlan and company used Saturday night to show off Painted Shut in it’s entirety. From bassist Tyler Long to brother/drummer Mark and ex-Algernon Cadwallader guitarist Joe Reinhart, every member sounded so tuned in to every song. But it was Frances and her incredibly unique and powerful voice, paired with her impeccable songwriting abilities that took the spotlight.
The level of response and feedback that the crowd gave throughout the night was almost equally as impressive as band itself. Whether it was during the singles like “Waitress” or “Powerful Man” or non-singles like “The Knock” or “I Saw My Twin”, fans knew every lyric to every song. Even when older songs like “Tibetan Pop Stars” or “Laments” were pulled out, the singalongs never stopped.
Hop Along’s evening began to wind down as every member except Frances walked off stage. Left alone, she played the emotional solo track from Painted Shut, “Happy To See Me” before bringing the rest of the band back on to round out the night with two older songs, “Kids On The Boardwalk” and “Sister Cities”. There was no encore that night and with the performance that they had put on, quite frankly none was needed. When their last record came out, 2012’s Get Disowned, it and Hop Along were regarded as one of Philadelphia’s best kept secrets. In 2015 though, it’s clear that the cat’s out of the bag now!