December 6, 2017 Beach Slang Thrills Gramercy Theatre, NYC 11-29-17
It has been a good year for Beach Slang. On the heels of their sophomore record, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings, released in 2016, the foursome from Philadelphia, PA has been touring non-stop to promote ever since. On the road consistently since back in August, on Wednesday, November 29th, they brought their headlining tour to New York City’s Gramercy Theatre with some help from The Homeless Gospel Choir and Dave Hause & The Mermaid. Though they might not have known it yet, the crowd was in for an incredibly special night that would feel like an intimate basement show.
The room was just beginning to fill with fans when The Homeless Gospel Choir took the stage. Based on the name, one might think they were getting a choir, but The Homeless Gospel Choir is actually just one man—Pittsburgh, PA Punk Musician Derek Zanetti. With several LPs under his belt including the excellent 2017 effort Presents: Normal, Zanetti has established himself as a songwriting powerhouse capable of crafting heartfelt and moving tracks. Judging by the excited cheer from the gathering crowd, fans of his mix of Punk and Folk could not wait to see his performance.
Armed with only his guitar and his voice, Zanetti kicked off his set with the catchy “Musical Preference,” a song about how people’s musical tastes can bring them together—or not. He got considerable cheers and laughs by riffing on Taylor Swift songs, immediately showing off his excellent stage presence and ability to connect with a crowd.
Following that, Zanetti played two more new songs from his latest record, entitled “Crazy” and “Depression,” both of which were raw and emotional, striking chords with the crowd. Zanetti excelled at engaging with the crowd, talking between songs by professing the importance of Punk music and the many disappointments of religion before playing the Folky “With God on Our Side.”
At this point, Gramercy Theatre began to flesh out when Zanetti’s acoustic guitar gave out while playing his anthemic new track “Normal,” so he climbed down and took his guitar into the middle of the floor. Standing surrounded by fans old and new, the crowd sang along to the final choruses of “Normal” and “6th Grade.” It was a truly special finish to a great set that no doubt left The Homeless Gospel Choir with a wealth of new fans.
Next it was time for an energetic, full-band performance from Dave Hause & The Mermaid. Best known as the frontman of beloved Punk band The Loved Ones, and though that band is occasionally still active, Hause is now touring in support of his third solo record, 2017’s Bury Me in Philly. Backed by a full supporting band, Hause & The Mermaid started the set on a high note with title track “Bury Me In Philly.” Immediately inspiring a reaction, fans bounced around and sang along to the band’s vintage Rock sound as the set continued with “Autism Vaccine Blues” and new track “The Mermaid” (in case you were wondering where the band’s name came from). It seemed to be a night for guitar difficulties, however, as a string popped on Hause’s well-worn guitar, but thankfully a fan came to the rescue and re-strung it in the course of a single song. Pretty impressive.
Hause and The Mermaid’s passion and energy were infectious. In fact it was impossible not to have fun dancing to catchy Punk jams like “C’Mon Kid” and “The Flinch.” With nearly everyone in the room singing along, they went into a cover of the late Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “I Won’t Back Down” before finishing off their excellent set with Bury Me in Philly’s opener, “With You.”
Then, after only a short break, it was finally time for Beach Slang to take the stage. Like The Homeless Gospel Choir and Dave Hause, Beach Slang are also Pennsylvania natives. As mentioned, hailing from Philadelphia, Beach Slang are a fairly nascent band who have accomplished some considerable feats since forming in only 2013.
The band has two excellent full-length albums and a number of EPs, including the recent Quiet Slang, as well as acoustic re-imaginings of two Beach Slang songs and two covers. Even after a major lineup shake-up in 2016, founding members James Alex (vocals, guitar) and Ed McNulty (bass) have kept Beach Slang’s trajectory on the up and up with the help of new members Aurore Ounjian (guitar) and Cully Symington (drums).
Ready for the main attraction, the crowd erupted into a huge cheer as they came on stage and Alex took the center position before his floral festooned mic stand. Kicking off their monster of a set with “Wasted Daze of Youth” and “Bad Art & Weirdo Ideas,” Alex pinged around the stage performing some theatrical classic Rock moves. Fans sang eagerly along to all of their Beach Slang favorites like “Porno Love,” “Ride the Wild Haze,” and “Dirty Cigarettes.” However, after playing “Kids,” fans in the crowd began shouting out requests, and the band was happy to oblige. Alex joked that they were now totally veering from the set list as they played a cover of The Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait” followed by a bit of Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.” Though, the covers were only just beginning.
Of course, there were still plenty of Beach Slang songs to be played too. The band ran through “Noisey Heaven” and “Young Hearts,” sounding impeccable and building up the momentum as the set went on. Alex then drank his cocktail with no hands, thanking fans for making the night so special for them. He and the band seemed thrilled at the amount of engagement the crowd was giving them, and so Beach Slang indulged them with covers of Jawbreaker’s “Boxcar,” joined onstage by Zanetti,” and Tommy Keene’s “Nothing Can Change You.”
With more to offer, they closed out their set with some more Beach Slang songs such as “American Girls and French Kisses,” “Future Mixtape for the Art Kids,” and finally “Punk or Lust.” Thankfully, they were not done yet. For the encore, Alex took the stage alone for a stripped down version of “Too Late to Die Young” and a cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen.” Usually, this would be special enough for an encore, but Alex was then joined once again by his fellow band members for another cover of Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind,” followed by another Replacements song, “Bastards of Young,” and then finally ending their evening with the explosive “Atom Bomb.”
Overall, it was an incredibly special performance and an amazing night to be a part of. Although the Beach Slang 2017 touring schedule has concluded, the band has just announced that they will be joining Dashboard Confessional on tour in early 2018. A billing that should not be missed, be sure to check out each of these bands when they roll through your town in the coming months!