Editors note- I did not write this review it's taken from the Delaware Journal News
"We're just a bunch of dirt bags, you know that right?" asked Ian Felice, the sandpaper-voiced singer of The Felice Brothers Thursday night at The Trocadero in Philadelphia.
By that point in the show, it was clear the band from upstate New York that grew up in the shadow of The Band and Big Pink, did not take themselves too seriously.
With a stage littered with guitars, a fiddle, a washboard, an accordion, a keyboard and drums, The Felice Brothers threw down a boozy 2-hour performance that exceeded even lofty expectations following the brilliant one-two punch of their last pair of albums, 2008's "The Felice Brothers" and this years' "Yonder Is the Clock."
It's impossible to see this band, which got its start busking in the subways of New York, and not think of The Band. With every member of the band taking over vocals throughout the night and blending their rustic voices with an authentic down-home country sound, it felt like you were in the middle of a more sinister, darker "Basement Tapes" session.
The Felice Brothers are undoubtedly part of a rollicking triumvirate of young bands with Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers, keeping the Americana movement alive.
Delaware music fans might remember them as the opening act for Bright Eyes at The Grand in Wilmington last year. (The band is on the independent label Team Love, founded by Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst in 2003.)
But their more acoustic-based, more subdued performance in Delaware was nothing like the band as a rabble-rousing headliner, which seemed like they just might have been under the influence of any number of the drugs and alcoholic beverages referenced in their set.
The wild combination of the burly accordion player known only as Christmas, the frantic man alternately holding the fiddle and a washboard named Greg Farley and the transcendent vocals of Ian Felice was almost too much to handle at times.
Here's the top ten moments of The Felice Brothers at The Trocadero:
10. Christmas opening his song "Whiskey in My Whiskey" by saying, "This song is about getting drunk and killing your wife," to a roar of the crowd. And then finishing the song with the verse, "I put some whiskey into my whiskey/I put some heartbreak into my heart/I put my boots on the old dance floor/I put three rounds, Lord, in my Eleanor."
9. Ian Felice's mid-song Beatles reference: "All you need is love. That's what John Lennon said. I believe it! Do you believe it?"
8. The stunned look of security when they saw crowd surfing during "Frankie's Gun" at a concert featuring a flannel-wearing band with a fiddle player.
7. "Buried in Ice," a song on "Yonder Is the Clock." Probably the only song written about Walt Disney's head. And especially the only one that can give you chills.
6. Their inspired cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Two Hands," giving a show filled with downright dark and menacing imagery a silver lining:
I got two hands
I wanna clap my hands together
I got two legs
I wanna dance to heavens door
I got one heart
I gonna fill it up with up Jesus
And I ain't gonna think about trouble anymore
5. Ian Felice leaping onto the bass amp and playing his guitar with the microphone as a slide. I've never seen Robbie Robertson do that!
4. The stone-cold brilliant performance of the song, "The Greatest Show On Earth," with the line, "There's a deer head looking at me/It's blowing my mind away."
3. The understated acoustic opening set by stand-out singer/songwriter Willy Mason. Check his 2007 release, "If the Ocean Gets Rough."
2. Two fans leaping on stage during the night's final song, "Glory Glory," the Felice's homage to The Carter Family's "Can the Circle Be Unbroken (By and By)." The band let the grinning fans take over lead vocals. One of the fans, wearing Christmas' hat, let out an orgasmic shout of pure joy during the final jam: "It's a barn-burner!"
1. Greg Farley closing out "Penn Station" by bravely launching himself into the drum kit, Kurt Cobain-style during the encore. How many kits do they go through each tour?
News Journal Wilmington DE