Big Thief

Johnny Brenda's Presents

Big Thief

Palehound

Sun, March 26, 2017

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$12.00

This event is 21 and over

All shows are 21+ Proper I.D. required for admission

Big Thief - (Set time: 9:00 PM)
Big Thief
Big Thief’s music, rooted in the songs of Adrianne Lenker, paints in vivid tones “the process of harnessing pain, loss, and love, while simultaneously letting go, looking into your own eyes through someone else’s, and being okay with the inevitability of death,” says Adrianne.
Masterpiece, Big Thief’s debut album (Saddle Creek), is filled with characters and visceral narratives, songs that pivot in the space of a few words. Adrianne’s voice and guitar playing speak of rich emotional territory with grace and insight. In her words, the record tracks “the masterpiece of existence, which is always folding into itself, people attempting to connect, to both shake themselves awake and to shake off the numbness of certain points in their life. The interpretations might be impressionistic or surrealistic, but they’re grounded in simple things.
Adrianne met her longtime musical partner, guitarist and singer, Buck Meek, in Brooklyn a few years ago, and they quickly formed a creative bond tempered by the experience of traveling and performing for months on end in old dive bars, yards, barns, and basements together. They recorded a pair of duo albums (A-Sides and B-Sides), and Adrianne showcased her songs on a solo album, Hours Were The Birds.
Now, as a full rock and roll band, with Buck on guitar, Max Oleartchik on bass, and James Krivchenia on drums, they bring a steady wildness, giving the songs an even deeper layer of nostalgia. “These guys feel like a pack of wolves at my back,” says Adrianne, “they make the songs howl and bark with a fierce tenderness that gives me courage.”
After spending last July in an old house that they turned into a studio on Lake Champlain with producer Andrew Sarlo, the resulting collection soars on what Big Thief fan Sharon Van Etten calls “… a real journey, with intelligent stories and twist-and-turn melodies.”
Palehound - (Set time: 8:00 PM)
Palehound
Ellen Kempner, the 21-year-old guitarist and songwriter behind Boston based project, Palehound, is even more prodigious than her age suggests; influenced by her musician father, she struck out on the songwriting path while she was still in elementary school. “I was kind of a shy kid,” says Kempner. “Music was a good way for me to express myself – I had a hard time socially, and it was a way for me to feel like I could contribute something and impress people in some way.”

“I envy 10-year-old me,” she laughs. “I would sit in my room for an hour, write a song, and be done. Now, it takes more time.” The eight songs that make up Dry Food, which Kempner wrote from 2013 to 2014 and recorded with Gabe Wax (Wye Oak, Speedy Ortiz) last summer, are wry and confessional, full of unexpected twists and turns. Kempner’s whispery alto gives the album a raw, confessional feel, even on louder tracks like the crashing, reverb-augmented “Cushioned Caging.” That’s partially because Dry Food is a snapshot of a time in Kempner’s life defined by instability and shifting, leaving Sarah Lawrence before her eventual move to Boston.

“I was coming off a transitional time in my life,” says Kempner of the period when Dry Food was written. “I was struggling in college, and with mental health issues. The album is a snapshot of a weird time for me, where I was transitioning from being in college to getting a job.

“The year between 19 and 20 is this weirdly insignificant time – you’re kind of an adult, but not a real adult. That was kind of hard for me, to think, ‘I’m not a kid, and there are things in my life making that very, very obvious to me, but I also can’t really fathom being an adult yet.’”

Despite the underlying factors, though, Dry Food is confident and cohesive, full of sophisticated songwriting and guitar playing. Kempner cites Elliott Smith and Kim Deal, as well as Angel Olsen and her childhood musical hero Avril Lavigne, as songwriting influences. (“I was obsessed with Let Go, and I still love that album,” she declares. “I was in third grade and would wear ties to school.”)

The glistening, complex guitar work on the dreamy “Cinnamon” and the fuzzed-out textures on album opener “Molly” makes plain that Kempner’s musical roots grow deep. “Wes Montgomery is one of my biggest guitar influences,” she notes. “I studied his music in college, and I still will pull up a chart of his and try to figure it out.”

Kempner played everything but the drum parts on Dry Food, but live, Palehound is rounded out by drummer Jesse Weiss, of the gnarly Boston act Grass Is Green, and bassist David Khostinat, who had previously worked with Weiss in the band Supervolcano.

Teaming up with Weiss and his crisp, steady drumming was, for Kempner, serendipitous. “I heard [Grass Is Green] when I was 16 or 17, and I thought they were the best thing I’d ever heard in my life,” she says. “Particularly the drummer. I saw them live for the first time right after I’d turned 18, and I watched Jesse the whole time. I worshiped him.

“He has this innate sense of how to work his kit. I can just get onstage and know that he’s going to play perfectly, and I can rely on him.”

While Dry Food chronicles a particularly rough patch in Kempner’s life, it does so with verve and grit, not to mention sterling musicianship and wry lyrics. Dry Food is a flag-plant by a young woman with a lot on her mind and talent to burn.
Venue Information:
Johnny Brenda's
1201 N. Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA, 19125
http://www.johnnybrendas.com/