This past Saturday’s show at Basement Transmissions demonstrated the exact reason why you should go to local shows: great music, amazing connections between bands and audiences, and partying with Sunny D. The entire show was just fun, and all around a great lineup of rock and metal.
Smooth Stone Philosophers
For being their first show, I certainly won’t forget Smooth Stone Philosophers anytime soon. They played a mix of covers and original songs, and worked 3 co-vocalists into their set well. But most memorably, amongst the cohesive 90s aesthetic of the rest of the band, one of the vocalists/guitarists was a very charismatic man in a kilt.
Chillin’ with the Primates
Two bands in the original show lineup for the night couldn’t make it due to inclement weather, and these guys in Chillin’ with the Primates stepped up last minute and played a solid set without a hitch. Their music is 80s influenced hard rock (with stand-out bass playing), and they ended their set with a song titled after the band….which was cute and folksy, lyrically detailing literally chilling with primates on an idyllic tropical island. This was charmingly disarming after the tone of the rest of their songs, and displayed the sense of humor the band possessed and demonstrated the entire night – a favorite moment was one of guitarists telling a facepalm-worthy corny joke between songs: “What do Winnie the Pooh and Ivan the Terrible have in common? The same middle name.” (ba dum tsh)
Gelatin Skeleton is really unique in how strongly their musical presence contrasts their personal presence onstage: between songs, band members were cordial and laid-back while speaking to the audience, but as soon as the music began, the band became a different beast entirely and the atmosphere changed dramatically. Everything about their music is solid (and you have to appreciate “songs about Mermaids and shit”, as quoted from singer Terry Crebel) and the vocals were beyond impressive. There was also a fantastic one-band crab-dance mosh pit, courtesy of headliners Primal Scream Therapy.
Stand-Out Track: Levitate
I don’t know if Bravura’s set marked the true beginnings of the Sunny D epic, but this is when I first noticed it….and Bravura took it and ran with it (not literally, but more on that later). The Sunny D, brought by a group of people attending the show, definitely became an interactive part of the night: Bravura singer Steven Attenborough even exclaiming “this set brought to you by Sunny fucking D” some time after drinking from a bottle (then shoving the mouth of said bottle up his nose). These antics in no way overshadowed the talent or immensely energetic stage presence of the band themselves, though – Bravura’s combination of charismatic stage presence and style of well-thought-out, rock-your-face-off progressive metal make for one of the best shows you can get.
Stand-Out Track: Fruition
Somehow, in a night of nothing but rock and metal, I was completely taken off guard by Amavasya. There was almost no warning – just a nod among members on stage – before jumping straight into one of the hardest, fastest, heaviest sets I’ve ever seen. They have an incredibly fast and active stage presence to match their relentless playing style, and a well-formed brand of progressive metalcore that sets them apart. It’s also worth mentioning that at one point during the set, a member of the crowd ran (literally, this time) in circles shaking a bottle of Sunny D above their head to the music, as if celebrating the spoils of a hard-fought victory.
Primal Scream Therapy
Stand-Out Track: Headsman
Over the course of personally seeing shows at Basement Transmissions, I’ve seen Primal Scream Therapy three times, and each time is better than the last. This was their first headlining show, as well as their album funding show, and I’ve seen them progress so much as a band. They put a lot of thought and effort into not only their music, but their presentation as well, and they have a clearly developed aesthetic and performance style. Their level of energy on stage is incredible, and their potential is pretty much limitless. A particularly memorable moment from the show was when the majority of the band joined the audience in the center of a circle pit with their instruments, and a few members of the crowd joined the singer and drummer on stage to headbang – while shaking bottles of Sunny D with such vigor that I was pretty sure they were going to explode. Primal Scream Therapy is hands-down one of the most fun bands in Erie to see (and they did an impressive cover of The Trooper by Iron Maiden, which gets major props from me).
Stand-Out Track: Tasting Like Oranges Even Though It Isn’t Even Made of Oranges
I never thought of Cincinnati, Ohio natives Sunny D as rock or metal – or even musically inclined at all, really – but it definitely knew how to work a crowd. Having joined us in the form of two-liter soda bottles, all bottles impressively lasted multiple sets. They endured every encounter with audience members and musicians alike with incredible flavor and durability, thankfully rupturing on no one in the course of being in the pit and moshing. Some people might think it’s orange juice, but Sunny D is so much more: tasting exactly like someone challenged someone else to make orange juice without oranges, and at least marginally succeeding. Would see again.
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Thanks to Jessi Szczesny/JLS Photography, Joey Dunn and Jared Keyes for photos!