by Adam McGrath
The buzz surrounding Philly blues-rock band John the Conqueror has officially become a roar. Center City’s MilkBoy was packed with friends and fans Friday night to celebrate the release of the up-and-coming group’s second album, The Good Life (Alive Naturalsound).
Pierre Moore is the type of frontman who dares you not to like him. Typically well-lubricated by the time he takes the stage, Moore doesn’t worry about things like thanking the crowd, introducing songs, or promoting a new album. He knows you’re there to see him do his thing, and he does it, curse words in mouth and scotch in hand. Luckily, his soulful voice and emotional guitar playing create all the charisma he needs.
The set opened the same way the new album does, with powerful rocker “Get ‘Em” followed quickly by “Waking Up to You.” The band sounded great, tight and in sync, evidence that their recent European tour helped hone these new songs. Bassist Ryan Lynn was feeling it all night, rocking a ‘70s vibe with a paisley shirt. Drummer Michael Gardner kept a nice balance between laying back and pressing forward when appropriate, his bright red suspenders popping out from behind the kit.
Favorites from John the Conqueror’s first album got a warm reception, including “Lucille” and “Time to Go.” My favorite two performances, though, were new songs “She Said” (a “song about cocaine” according to Moore) and “Golden Rule,” which closed out the night. The band definitely seemed to be having a good time, and the crowd eagerly matched their enthusiasm. I expect the boys will be turning a lot more heads in Philly and beyond.
Sharing the bill with John the Conqueror were Blayer Pointdujour & The Rockers Galore and Thee Idea Men. Openers Thee Idea Men have played with JTC before, and their upbeat rock sound is a good fit for this type of crowd. Lead singer Matthew Jurasek added a nice dimension to his vocals by using a Shure Green Bullet harmonica microphone, producing a distinct form of distortion.
Blayer Pointdujour & The Rockers Galore had a very different sound from the other two bands, blending reggae, jazz, and rap to produce a passionate and enjoyable performance. Pointdujour played bass behind his lead vocals, and delivered some inspired and energetic raps. The double keyboards added a nice jazz feel, punctuated by lofty guitar solos. Definitely check these guys out.