by Andi Bricklin
Remember when Philadelphia was the “town that rocked the nation?” You really have to go back to a time when local radio DJs had a say in what they played on air, WMMR’s Street Beat broke local bands and brought fans out to shows on a regular basis. It was a time when people would <gasp> dance at a show, when girls would fill the front of the stage and swoon over the lead singer, and guys would show up because they knew those girls would be there and they woud bro-out to the lead guitar solos. Somewhere along the line rock skipped a generation and went underground, making us wonder if it’s legacy is a memory to be dredged up only when we talk about Jimi, John or Kurt.
The Strypes are a young band from Cavan, Ireland who have made quite the impression on many a living rock legend. Sir Elton John, Jeff Beck, Ian McLagan, and Robert Plant have all gone on record to praise the band for their fast and furious old school rhythm and blues. They have been asked to perform on The Late Show with David Letterman, as well as The Conan O’Brien Show and here they were performing an all ages show at Union Transfer for a $12 ticket!
Opening the show was The Skins – a five piece, mostly sibling band from Brooklyn. Younger brother and sister Reef and Kaya McKeithan making up the rhythm section, while big sister Bayli commanded the stage with big hair, big voice and big personality! Long time friends Daisy Spencer and Russell Chell provide guitars and backing vocals. It was the band’s first time playing Philly and the crowd gave them a great welcome! They played a 40 minute set full of great rock energy and made the audience remember their name.
At around 10:30 The Strypes took the stage with a grand amount of swagger and balls-out rock and roll. Quickly getting over the fact the drummer Evan Walsh and bass player Peter O’Hanlon have recently had haircuts (so much hair, gone!), I’m in awe as about 400 pounds of pure fury rocked the rafters of the Union Transfer with a never ending set. There seriously was not one moment of silence the whole time- not for tuning, not to take a breathe, not to pick up a stick or change a string or tell a story. This was one big party that the band invited this all ages audience to and all ages were partying.
Gum chomping, lead guitarist Josh McClorey is a guitar legend in the making with spot on licks and riffs acompanied with a stage presence that is going to break hearts soon. It’s not easy to find a style all your own in world where “it’s all been done before”, but Josh has managed to eloquently pull together all of his influences and create a stage persona that is truly unique and sexy.
Lead singer Ross Farrelly is amazing with his commanding swagger that’s a little bit Mick, a little bit Tom Cruise in Risky Business, but inherently The Strypes. To hear that voice in all its gruffy rock glory is great to hear recorded, but can only truly be appreciated live.
To say The Strypes are intense is an understatement. Towards the end of the show the band traded instruments in which Ross took the guitar, Josh took the bass, and Peter took center stage with the harmonica. All the while the band’s secret weapon, drummer Evan Walsh, kept a steady beat. I personally have never seen the harmonica played with such intense passion while taking up so much real estate on stage before in my life! I felt like Marvin Berry calling his brother Chuck in Back to the Future when Marty McFly played the solo to Johnny B. Good – “Chuck! Chuck, it’s Marvin. Your cousin, Marvin Berry. You know that sounds you’re looking for? Well listen to this!” Then he stood on a monitor like a statue and just stared out into the crowd to a roar of applause until he was ready for more.
Usually an all ages show consists of young kids in the front while their parents hang out at the bar, but there was not one single person who didn’t leave that show totally in love with the band and aching for more.
PS- I’d like to publicly apologize for that lame fan who shouted “Free Bird” during the encore. It was just embarasing, and we promise to kick his ass the next time it happens.