Young Philadelphia – Bar Bloc, Glasgow – 9/1/13

Posted: 10/01/2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

As far as energetic guitar and drum two-pieces go, the now defunct As In Bear were phenomenal. So, also, are their forebears Bronto Skylift. However, with that said, let’s give Young Philadelphia their due and try to avoid beginning the feature by drawing comparisons between them and – presumably – their influences.

An energetic guitar and drum two-piece, consisting of brothers Jason and Graham Costello, Young Philadelphia – who may or may not be named after the Paul Newman-led 1959 film – are currently making waves in the same pond previously terrorised by Bronto Skylift and As In Bear.

Aye, the operative word in the first paragraph was try, right!?

In setting up, drummer Graham angles himself and his notably sparse kit – clearly having neither the requirement nor the patience for toms, floor or otherwise – an unapologetic ninety degrees left of the position your average stick-merchant would opt to face in the quaint Soviet-themed venue.

The guitarist, on the other hand, doesn’t look to have any intention of joining him on his chosen path of radical positioning and this moves the critical mind to wonder whether this difference in stance might be a metaphor for a soon-to-be-witnessed variation in stage personae.

—–

Upon finishing farting about with his effects pedals and whipping round to face his accomplice, in the process throwing a dirty big bastard of a spanner into the works of the previous proposition, Jason shoots a glance that sees the siblings wire straight into a criminally infectious rumble of percussion melding with chords which then proceeds to crash into a furious ear-splitting din of Converge-like proportions.

Hands fumble for ear plugs – with at least one observer being seen to stuff pieces of ripped up napkins into his lugs – and thus begins a set as abrasive as it is cathartic, seemingly not least for Graham who appears to be utilising his kit as a sort of conduit through which to channel a legion of horrific personal demons. Judging, that is, by his apparent compulsion to attack each of its components with every fibre of his being, bodily flinging himself repeatedly into the meagre percussion station as though intent on actually ploughing through it.

A casual observer happening through the door of Bar Bloc would be forgiven for interpreting the scenario as Jason having taken the stage and deeply immersed himself in a solo guitar performance, which has enraged one spectator to the point where he has hastily assembled half a drum kit and set about piling into it in a sort of “this is what you’d get, ya bastard, if all these people weren’t here” type gesture.

Let’s stay with the analysis of this ferocity for a second, lest it not be done absolute justice…

Fringe flailing, Graham bounces on his drum stool – to an extent that sees him actually rising inches clear of the leather – to ensure that every thrashing blow counts, throwing so much of himself into his performance that he is, at points, close to lying prostrate atop his snare. Each time, he succeeds in regaining his composure for just long enough to scream unintelligibly in the direction of his brother (an entirely futile gesture, given the decibel level, and one made evident only by the contortion of his mouth and visible strain of his throat muscles) before the sheer effort involved in manifesting such aural terror forces his head to loll back down again.

Standing directly in the firing line of this onslaught, Jason succeeds in holding up his end of the performance by harnessing the primal force of the drums and hooking it into a groove reminiscent of that purveyed by early Rage Against the Machine. This, of course, is rendered all the more impressive when one considers how bass-dependent such a sound was and reconciles this notion with the fact that this is just one man with a guitar, responsible not only for injecting melody into the madness but also for pitching his output appropriately in order to be heard over his partner’s fury.

The brothers are an excellent pairing, appearing as a sort of Jekyll and Hyde type entity, with one thoroughly out of control and the other deftly meshing the fruits of this lunacy with his own offerings to create some of the catchiest noise currently doing the rounds.

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As regards the audience, reading this may conjure up images of a seething whirlwind of bodies but, although those in the frontlines of the cramped performance space alternate between appreciative nodding and Lemmy-esque devastation of their neck tendons, the crowd as a whole seems rooted to the spot in a sort of trance. So enraptured are the most recent slew of Young Philadelphia converts that it wouldn’t seem entirely outlandish to envision the guitarist passing out tumblers of toxic Kool Aid – without word or expression – and the crowd unquestioningly knocking them back in tandem.

It is obscenely difficult to tell when one song ends and another begins but by the time the performance is halfway through, not a single intelligible word has been spoken. Going by the aforementioned way in which the Bar Bloc patrons stand transfixed by this sensory assault, however, this is an omission that goes entirely unnoticed or unfelt by the majority of the crowd.

Somewhere towards the end of the set,  a list of thank-yous – the first clear oral offering of the evening – paves the way for a segment of pedal manipulation and atmospheric fret-picking, coupled with a sparse series of snare raps, which soon enough careers into another cavalcade of chaotic volume.

As far as the music itself goes, as catchy as it is, it wouldn’t be the first choice for the soundtrack to a long drive or a run. In a live context, however, Young Philadelphia are an awe-inspiring force and positively worthy successors in the Bronto-Bear bloodline.

And what an awesome name!

Young Philadelphia on Facebook

Young Philadelphia on Bandcamp

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