A Friday night on a holiday weekend and a 10:30 start time. This might spell death for other bands, but British imports, Scars on 45, packed the Tin Angel in Philadelphia on May 25. Their set lasted just over an hour and included about ten songs, mostly off their self-titled debut album, released on Atlantic’s Chop Shop Records in April. The band made the most of the intimate venue, chatting a lot between songs and giving the whole show a vibe akin to that of being in the audience for an episode of Vh1 Storytellers.
Scars on 45 made their return to Philadelphia after opening for Ingrid Michaelson and a sold out crowd at the Electric Factory just two weeks ago. Their set at Tin Angel had a noticeably toned down vibe in comparison, showing the band’s versatility when it comes to venue and audience. Songs like the rollicking “Loudest Alarm” and their swaying single “Heart on Fire” benefit from atmospheres more like Electric Factory where the band can really let loose. However, their softer side shines at a place like Tin Angel where a hush falls over the crowd for sweetly slow songs like “Change My Needs” and “Promises and Empty Words.”
One of the highlights of the night came from the band’s cover of “Friday I’m in Love,” originally by The Cure. When bands choose to cover such popular songs, it always has the potential to trainwreck, but Scars on 45 stripped this song to its bare bones, letting lead vocalists Danny Bemrose and Aimee Driver do what they do best: form hypnotic harmonies capable of carrying an entire song with little instrumental backup. However, on Scars’ own songs, these two vocalists aren’t left wanting for talented band mates, finding one sleek, cohesive sound in guitarist Matthew Baxter, drummer Chris Durling and keyboardist David “Nova” Nowakowski.
Scars on 45 have recently started gaining traction in the States with their infectious melodies and hooks, especially after Heart on Fire was on heavy rotation in commercials for the latest season of the popular show Grey’s Anatomy. Scars on 45 have played Philadelphia in the past with One Eskimo at World Café Live and have also opened for other well-known acts in the indie-rock world like Anya Marina, Matt Nathanson, Jack’s Mannequin and The Fray.
Durling mentioned the band had plans to return to the area at the end of July as part of their ongoing U.S. tour as they continue to promote their album. Stay updated on the band and follow their tour schedule at ScarsOn45.com.