Vita and the Woolf is one of Philadelphia’s most dynamic live acts. Watching the Jennifer Pague-led project develop over the last three years has been quite rewarding. On Friday, a sold-out Johnny Brenda’s played host to the most exciting show I have seen from them yet, with raw emotion and energy pulsing throughout. Here are four standout moments as well as some photos from the night.
1. Vita and the Woolf exposed emotions in their sound and visuals
With Pague freeing herself from having the keyboard in front of her at all times—as in the past—she can own the space with her movement. Superb drummer Adam Shumski would bring forth a wicked beat and Pague would stand still until the perfect percussive moment before exploding into a sea of limb and hair motion.
2. “Tunnels” sounds glorious live
Playing behind their new LP Tunnels, Pague, Shumski and guitarist Dane Galloway unpacked the rich layers of songs like “Sun Drop” and “Feline” (with the latter requiring a second take). And the set concluded with their strongest track, “Mary.” “My dancing days are gone” is a haunting lyric that seared through the heart and soul of the crowd as they sway to the sadness. Vita and the Woolf is electric, cathartic and unlike anything else out there right now.
3. Soul Cannon provided a rhythmic bridge in sound
Vita and the Woolf headlined a strong three-band show. Baltimore-based hip-hop group Soul Cannon played before them with a tight set of thought-provoking tracks. Eze Jackson blasted through his lyrics with a ferocious speed while a rhythmic backing of drums, guitars and keys extended the sonic landscape. They are certainly a band to catch again—both live and recorded.
4. Ellen Siberian-Tiger opened with welcome feminist rock introspection
With songs about Kate Chopin and Sylvia Plath and an indie-rock sound extending into folk and blues territory, Ellen Siberian-Tiger was a brilliant live beginning to the Friday night. Led by Ellen Tiberio-Shultz with drumming by multi-band Shumski, the set was revelatory. This Philly-based group will certainly get a lot more attention in the coming months. Look out.