Written By Killian O’Neill, Photographed by Liv Foltiny
My dream of being able to listen to live music while sitting on comfy couches finally came to fruition this past Saturday night at The Living Room in Ardmore. I had the absolute pleasure of attending a night of music hosted by the one and only That Mag of Philadelphia. The MC for the evening was no other than Brian Cronin, the publication’s publisher. That Mag has always presented live music nights and sponsored various open mic nights in Philadelphia. Due to the pandemic, it had stopped, and this was the first artist showcase since then.
It was a cold and stormy fall night, and the rain fell in buckets. As I walked into the venue, I was greeted with a wave of warmth from inside. The lights were dim to almost a candle lit, and the seats were full. It was exactly what I hoped for, with a welcoming, intimate atmosphere. The way that the living room is set up is that the room is sectioned off into two separate sections. The room starts at the front of the stage and goes almost all of the way back, and that part is filled with couches, which is the VIP. The rest of the room is GA and filled with comfy chairs and tables to sit at and enjoy as well. Couples and people were cozied on the couches, awaiting the night’s performers.
The lineup consisted of Maria Arroyo, Nick Lombardo and The Decent OK Duo, and Pawnshop Roses. All are local musicians who have been weaving themselves throughout the Philadelphia Music scene.
Maria was first up, and she is a local singer-songwriter. While opening the show, she explained that she makes “sad girl” music. I couldn’t have been more excited because I’m the biggest emo girl at heart. Like any true artist, she turns her pain into a work of art, with her ballads of heartbreak and pain. Maria made the stage look like her home with how she commanded it. Not to mention, her song’s lyrics are relatable to anyone with a pulse. From heartbreak to taking back your power, she covers it all, and you don’t want to miss out on her powerhouse voice and runs.
Next up was Nick Lombardo and The Decent OK duo. Typically, they play as a band, but this night, they featured Nick Lombardo and his Lead Guitarist, James Gaffield. Nick would come out to MilkBoy South‘s Home Grown open mic nights before the pandemic and play there. Now he had the stage and was sharing it with his exceptionally talented Lead Guitarist James. Watching the two of them on stage was a real treat. If it wasn’t Nick belting out those lyrics, it was James countering on the guitar. I couldn’t tell if I was listening to 90’s indie music or was at a rock concert in the 70s. Either way, I was getting lost in the sound and loving every second of it.
I am looking forward to seeing them again and with a full band. If you can listen to them play live, I highly suggest it.
Last but not least, Pawnshop Roses headlined the night. A Folk-Rock band that mixes influences of bluegrass and sounds of Americana into their sound. Pawnshop Roses is a five-piece band who have nothing but a blast as they perform on stage. They have been a staple in the Philadelphia music scene for the last twenty-one years, and they continue to push out music that is uniquely their own. Their sound reminds me of if The Avett Brothers had a hard rock cousin, from how they tell a story through their music to how they sound only like themselves. One second, I was in my feels with some of the lyrics, and the next moment, my foot wouldn’t stop tapping. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what they sound like because each song differs from the next. They are certainly in a league of their own, to say the least, I’m pretty mad I have just discovered them because they are that good. The energy the guys bring onto the stage is refreshing and rare. The band’s frontman was jumping around the entire time and feeding off the bassist living in his world while ripping away at the chords. It was a blast hearing musicians play just for the love of the music. These days, the set lists consist of newer and older songs from the last 21 years. The evening ended with the most recent digital release from The Pawnshop Roses called “Not What it Used to Be,” which is them tipping their hat at growing older and growing up and living life differently at 40 than 20.
This evening was action-packed and full of talent from start to finish. I think it is a wonderful platform,That Mag gives for local musicians. It enables them to show off their talent and continue to work towards their dream of being musicians and performing. I am eager to see when the next one happens and what is brought to the table.
Nick Lombardo and the Decent OK