Words by Chris Pacifico :: Images by Christie Harrison

The Duke Spirit & The Walkmen :: 04.13.06 :: Starlight Niteclub :: Philadelphia, PA

Leila Moss :: The Duke Spirit
04.13 :: Philadelphia
Music Appreciation Night - that has a nice ring to it. But aren't all nights music appreciation nights when you in fact go see live music?! I mean, you're obviously there because you appreciate music, and it's live. Why not just call it "Live Music Night" or "Live Music Appreciation Night?" I think I'll stop now before I dive head-first into a Seinfeldian dribble.

At Philadelphia's quasi-opulent and rustic Starlight Niteclub, fans lined up around the block for an RSVP-only event sponsored by Filter Magazine and the new Honda Fit, which is basically one of many new models of automobile shaped like a large ladybug that happens to look like a poor man's Kia Rio that the companies try to hip with the cool cats. Free pea-soup green tote bags were given out to all who had their picture taken with the car, which explained the hour-and-a-half wait until the opening band came on as well as the free Sparks being handed out. For those of you who don't know, Sparks is a "hip" new energy drink with six-percent alcohol served in a sixteen-ounce can, which just happens to be marketed as a "malt beverage." Brown paper bags were not given out with the cans.

The Walkmen :: 04.13
At 10:30, The Walkmen took to the stage with half of the group's members donned in textbook preppie garb. But we all know that the Walkmen aren't preppies, per se, or else their music would sound like Hoobastank. The band played an array of tracks from their forthcoming effort, A Hundred Miles Off, (due out May 23) which shows them taking more of a sprawling direction within their sound. Walter Martin kept the grooves fresh with his sticky and slithering organ lines.

Among the new tracks played were the folk/baroque "Louisiana" and the hazy pop of "All Hands and the Cook" and "Lost in Boston." Drummer Matt Barrick was no less than stellar on stick duty as his baby face was illuminated throughout the whole duration of the set, while front man Hamilton Leithauser belted out the vocals in his husky, Dylan-esque voice. The Walkmen showed props to Philly psych-pop collective Mazarin by playing their own rendition of the tune "Another One Goes By" before closing with their breakout hit "The Rat." It may not have been played from the Bait Shop on The OC, but the people here were a whole lot cooler than a bunch of pampered L.A. rich kids with "problems."

The Duke Spirit :: 04.13 :: Philadelphia
It was during the time in-between the Walkmen and The Duke Spirit's sets when the Sparks had kicked in as the house DJ got the crowd to light up the dance floor by spinning the platters that mattered such as Tom Vek's "I Ain't Saying Goodbyes" and Death From Above 1979'a "Romantic Rights" before segueing into "Banquet" from Bloc Party. Then that screechy "eeeeerrt" sound came from the needle abruptly halting on the vinyl followed by a wave of disappointed groans.

Leila Moss :: The Duke Spirit
But the frowns were turned upside-down immediately following once The Duke Spirit stepped out on stage, fresh off the plane from London with no evidence of jet lag in sight. Front woman Leila Moss got things going with the title track from their phenomenal new album, Cuts Across the Land. One couldn't help but notice the remarkable synergy between the members of the band as they played through tracks like "Win Your Love" and "Darling, You're Mean." Moss stomped her booted feet on the ground to each beat a la Janis Joplin and showed no mercy on the tambourine that was receiving a beating all night while her hair was whipping around.

The Duke Spirit isn't just a band that you hear. Their psychedelic and soulful blues sounds emit an aura in the air that cannot be explained. Moss's sultry and assertive voice is at the helm of this band's live chemistry as guitarist Dan Higgins (a dead ringer for just about any shady thug from a Guy Ritchie film) didn't stray too far from his amp in order to emit plenty of feedback and reverb while playing so hard that the whammy bar flew off his axe. Overall, it was a mind-blowing set by this quintet who are at present the reigning dukes (and duchess) of cool. The good kind of cool, not like a hipster.

JamBase | Philadelphia
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[Published on: 5/9/06]

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