by Lauren Rosier
It’s been two years since Philadelphia favorite Good Old War has been on the road. Their hometown gave them a huge welcome back Sunday night with a sold out show at First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia.
If anyone has been to the Church before, you know how small, intimate, hot and sweaty these shows are. This one was no exception. The show was all ages, so the crowd ranged from teens to older folk; but, people had one thing in common: appreciation for good music.
The opener Philadelphia singer-songwriter Pete Hill played a delightful thirty minute, six-song set. Hill’s musical style blends a mix of Americana, acoustic, and singer-songwriter genres into one catchy sound that is all his own. Hill performed many tracks off his December 2014 release, The Bullet Tree. The country/Americana twang of the second song “It’s a Shame” had people bopping their heads to the beat; ‘it’s a shame you can’t get over it’, Hill sang.
The third song was a Bob Dylan cover song he threw in that everyone seemed to love. Hill then went back to originals with a track titled “Soaking” that started out very melodically, but then speeds up into a ska-like tempo. On “Soaking”, Hill had Good Old War’s drummer Tim Arnold join him. Hill then closed the set with the track “Fool’s Gold.”
The quirky, musical duo of Josh Arnoudse and Raky Sastri, known as You Won’t, housed the middle set, and boy were they out of this world. I have honestly seen a ton of bands and have never seen any other band comparable to You Won’t. Good Old War had talked up the band and how awesome they were and they were correct.
Their sound blends a mix of indie rock, punk, Americana, and country influences with Sastri playing harmonica, tambourine, and multiple other instruments, in addition to playing the drums and singing at the same time. At one point in the set, Arnoudse used an instrument made out of tubing that created this amazing acoustic sound. It allowed him to change up his voice in different ways; very unorthodox instrument and unique. Another time he used wind chimes.
Good Old War. A Philadelphia fan favorite. They haven’t toured in two years and their first hometown headlining show is sold out. In reference to my previous story on Good Old War, the band developed a pledge campaign to support their upcoming album, Broken Into Better Shape. One of the levels that fans could purchase was announcing the band at a show of their choice. A lucky pledger named Jackie introduced Good Old War to the excited sold out crowd Sunday night.
It was so good to see Keith, Dan, and Tim back together again on stage as a trio after the time off the road and Tim’s departure from the band. They opened their hour and a half set with fan favorite “Coney Island” off their debut album, Only Way To Be Alone, and the crowd was singing along throughout the song . The energy level was at ten throughout “Coney Island” and continued through the second song of the set, “Better Weather”, off the band’s third record, Come Back As Rain. “Looking For Shelter” is was favorite as it always is along with “Coney Island”.
For as many times that I have seen the guys perform live, they sounded especially tight for this show, in sync with each other, and feeding off the crowd’s energy. “Weak Man” was definitely one of highlights of the guys’ set as it is always one of the fan favorites — I’ve never heard a crowd sing so loud before.
The guys’ played most of their set from their first three records with the exception of two new songs from the forthcoming Broken Into Better Shape, including the first single, “Tell Me What You Want From Me” which was performed closer to the end of the set. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited in anticipation for a Good Old War record as I have for this one just from hearing the first single. It’s so fresh and creative, yet still classic Good Old War.
Overall, I think this is probably one of the top three Good Old War shows that I have attended.