by Holli Stephens
There is always a little fire of anticipation that lights inside of me when I learn I’ll be going to a foreign venue or seeing a band that is new to me. I was two for two in getting the chance to see The Crookes play at the Barbary Tuesday night.
The venue is quite intimate. Once you’re inside the stage stares you in the face from across the room. An eclectic bunch of posters and art line the walls and you’re able to see all backstage activities out in the open, from the band lugging in equipment to them leaving the stage.
As I stepped outside to make a phone call I saw the guys of opening band Young Buffalo doing their pre performance ritual. Each member broke into a smile as did I and we all casually walked back in for the Y-Not Radio’s 4th Anniversary Show.
The five-piece indie rock band hails from Oxford, Mississippi and played an hour set of old and new hits that included their latest release, “Sykia”. Key components that make this band really awe-inspiring were the vocal harmonization between vocalists/guitarists Jim Barrett and Ben Yarbrough. Add in Will Eubank’s unique keyboard styles that incorporated marimba, human vocal sounds and some other vocal looping, and you have an upbeat and pleasant experimental sound. The band ended with “Upstairs”, which was recorded here in Philadelphia, before they slinked back to another part of the venue to sell merch and await The Crookes’ performance.
There is always a certain flare to English bands that make them so entrancing to watch. From lead vocalist George Waite’s trendy blue paisley button down to guitarist Daniel Hopewell’s leather moccasins, the band was dressed to kill and had a stage presence to match.
It was the band’s first time in Philadelphia and Waite was pleased with the modest turnout of first-time listeners and fans alike. Every song was filled with complete energy and precision resulting in punching drum beats from Russell Bates and jazzy guitar riffs courtesy of Waite, Hopewell and Tom Dakin. Waite’s romantic lyrics and incredible dance moves only added to this sanguine atmosphere of audience members snapping and singing along to their popular songs.
Halfway through the set Waite said, “I thought we were a heavy metal band…”, and it was met with a roar of laughter and applause as they segued into their next song “American Girls”. The Crookes played an 18-song set that included “Maybe in the Dark”, “Backstreet Lovers” and “Yes, Yes We’re Magicians”. At one point every member of the band except for Waite left the stage and he asked the audience if anyone had ever been to Sheffield? There was silence so I spoke up yelling I have a grandmother who resides about an hour away. Overjoyed, Waite said, “This song is dedicated to your grandmother, there in Huddersfield.”
By the time The Crookes had ended there was a downpour of rain tapping on the windows of The Barbary. But the feeling of everyone in the room was a polar opposite of eagerness to meet the band and happiness of basking in the glow of both band’s performances. As I biked home all I could do was smile, as the music was so tranquil, but fun and the rain only added to this feeling.