It has been a while since I last attended a night of completely folk punk bands. The last time was back in June when Escape from the Zoo played the Trunk Space. Like that night, Bad Times played. Although in that case, it was just Diego. For this night, not only did we get all of Bad Times, but there was a first for me with Harley Poe and a favorite in the Homeless Gospel Choir.
Opening up was the new look at Bad Times. Taking away the solo performance, it was a different mix of members aside from Diego since last I watched them play. This time around we find Kevin, from Brain Zap, trading in the guitar for the drums and a new bassist. Although Diego expressed excitement to be playing with both bands, their on stage energy seemed calm.
Though off stage there were a few bouncing around and getting a circle pit going. They sang back lyrics through the performance with Diego. It confirmed that a favorite of mine, “Why Do Bluebirds Fly?” continues to be a favorite for others. This new lineup for Bad Times looks good and can’t wait to see how they grow.
Then in a surprise, we found a full band assembled for the Homeless Gospel Choir. If you have not caught Homeless Gospel Choir prior, it has generally been just Derek going solo. He has assembled a talented band that included a familiar face to me, Maura Weaver, from Ogikubo Station.
Talking to Derek he mentioned how it adds depth to the songs while freeing him from always having an instrument. The set reinforced his words, hearing more layers to his already wonderful songs like “Normal.” There appeared to be a common energy and excitement to them on stage too. His introduction to each song as a protest song, whether or not they actually were, continued to give me a chuckle. They teased the next album should hit around March while playing a couple to be on it within the show. If their latest visit is to be an example, the new band dynamic blended with the already great charm and relatable lyrics of the Homeless Gospel Choir looks to be a wonderful combination.
Last up was the first time I was watching Harley Poe. This three piece band is made up of Joe Whiteford on lead vocals and guitar, a stand up bassist, and washboard player. The band’s subject matter generally goes darker, revolving around death. However, Joe was a pretty positive and engaging performer to the audience.
They played a few off of their new album, “Have a Great Life.” He joked that those songs should be too new for anyone to sing along with yet. Regardless, this crowd seemed to have people knowing those lyrics and many of their older tracks based on how audibly and passionately they sang along. Although, unlike them, these were all new to me so I took in the songs and snapped a few shots with my camera. Based on that, Harley Poe gives a great first impression in their stage performance and I plan to continue listening going forward.