Animal Years is one of those bands, where you get the feeling that they are on the verge of becoming big!
Honestly, I had never heard of them until a couple of weeks ago. When I cover a show, I usually reach out to the band and/or their publicist, to see if they can send me background information. Because of that, I ended up on the e-mail list of one of the publicity agencies that I’ve dealt with before. It’s great, because they represent a lot of lesser known artists that I may not have run across otherwise.
Most times, I read through the e-mail, but don’t always take the extra step to click on the link to any new music they might be promoting. For some reason though, I did for Animal Years. Lesson learned? Always click on the link to the music and give it a try!
As a result of listening to that song, I ended up at the band’s Philadelphia show at Kung Fu Necktie on Friday night, which also happened to be the kick-off of their Far From Home tour. Keep reading to learn more about Animal Years, and make sure to take the time to click on the video and give them a listen. You won’t regret it!
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KUNG FU NECKTIE
I’ve heard of Kung Fu Necktie before, but I’ve never been there. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’m a researcher. I like to know a little bit about the history of the venue before I go. I’m also a planner, so I like to know what time I should get there, whether I should eat there or somewhere else, where I should park, etc.
Trying to find information in advance on Kung Fu Necktie is not easy. Most of the things I found refer to it as a “dive bar” with “live music”. On their own website, they do a great job listing the dozens and dozens of shows they have scheduled, but there’s nothing about the venue itself other than a couple of pictures.
So, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect during my first visit. Was Kung Fu Necktie going to end up on my 2018 list of “good” venues to go see live music in Philly, or “ugly” venues to go see live music in Philly? For a look at my 2017 list, click here:
Turns out that it’s a very cool venue. There are two rooms, so they are able to have two shows going at the same time. In the room we were in, there was a big bar area as soon as you walked in. The stage area was all the way in the back of the room. The sound was really good, the drinks were reasonably priced, and the room was great for an intimate show.
Tip #1: They do not serve food at Kung Fu Necktie, unless you count the packs of Combos, Oreos and Pop Tarts they had behind the bar. So, make sure you grab food before the show. There are lots of places to choose from in the area. You are within pretty easy walking distance of several restaurants along Frankford Avenue.
Tip #2: If you are looking for somewhere to eat and grab a drink before the show that is a little more “off the beaten path”, stop in at Saint Lazarus Bar (“The Saint”) on Girard Avenue. It’s just a block from Kung Fu Necktie. We had the most amazing tacos there! There is a restaurant (actually, it’s a walk-up window) next door that serves food, and you can order inside The Saint. Try the jerk chicken or shrimp tacos. You won’t regret it!
Tip #3: There is a lot of street parking around Kung Fu Necktie. Parking in the street on Front Street is free. It can get busy, but if you are patient and prepared to walk a little, that can save you some money instead of parking in a lot.
THE PUBLIC ADMINISTRATORS
ABOUT THE BAND
The Public Administrators is a folk-rock band based out of Philadelphia. Recently formed, the band is made up of a group of graduate students pursuing master’s degree in public administration (of course!). The seven-member band includes people from all over the U.S. that have come together to make music.
The Public Administrators took the stage shortly after 8 p.m. With seven people in the band, they really filled the stage. In fact, I couldn’t even see one of the members, because he was sort of tucked into the back so they could all fit.
The band consists of a drummer, bass player, fiddler, guitar player, and a flutist. There is a male and female lead singer, with another female back-up singer.
The Public Administrators are just starting out. In fact, I overheard one of the band members before the show mention that this was only their second live gig. They have a great core group of musicians, but there are some things they can work on. I think they could work a bit more on their vocal harmonies, and really take advantage of the three vocalists. It may have been the acoustics in the room, but I had a hard time catching the harmonies when everyone was singing together. I would also love to see them highlight the fiddler more. He had one great little solo that was very impressive, and it really gives the band a unique sound.
It was clear that the band had a lot of friends at the show to support them, so I expect they can build a local fan base quickly. It will be interesting to see where this band goes in the future. You can follow them on Facebook to find out where you can see them next – https://www.facebook.com/ThePublicAdmins/.
ABOUT THE BAND
Animal Years are originally from Baltimore, but now based out of Brooklyn. Formed in 2013, they are made up of band members Mike McFadden (vocals, guitar), Anthony Saladino (bass), and Anthony Spinnato (drums).
The band took their name from a Josh Ritter album. It began by them just liking the phrase, but it eventually became a mantra for them – “Live your life in animal years” – meaning live each day like it’s your last. So, Animal Years not only became the name of the band, but the way they operate. According to McFadden, the band tries to “go for it every day, like we’re gonna die tomorrow”.
Animal Years released their first album – Sun Will Rise – in 2014. The album actually started out as a solo album for McFadden. He had been working with Saladino, who suggested they find a drummer and form a band. The album was re-branded as an Animal Years album when it was released.
After hitting the road for a couple of years, including a national tour in 2016, it was time for the band to go back into the studio. The band teamed up with producer Ryan Hadlock, who has worked with such artists as Lumineers, Brandi Carlile and Vance Joy. They decided to record the new music at Applehead Studios in Woodstock, NY – far away from their normal urban surroundings.
The result was the five-song EP – Far From Home – which was released in October of 2017. Animal Years had four songs that they had already written for the new EP, but felt like they needed one more. McFadden was driving home from North Carolina at the end of the tour, and wrote “Caroline” in the car. The song ended up being the one that got the band attention from the record label, and was their first single off the EP.
Animal Years has grown a loyal following without the benefit of a mainstream record label. Like many other bands in the same situation, they do it by hitting the road, and winning over one fan at a time.
After a quick set change and getting their lit up “A” and “Y” on stage, Animal Years started playing around 9 p.m. I was happy to see a pretty full house, and what looked to be people that were already big fans.
McFadden kicked things off by telling the audience that this was the first stop on their tour, and it was a little bit of a “test run”. He also said that they would be playing a mixture of old and new songs. In fact, the second song – “Home” – was off their new EP.
McFadden also mentioned how it was the first time in a while that they had played together as a band, and he introduced their new guitar player, who had recently joined them.
These guys are full of energy and put on a great performance, and they are talented musicians as well. That came shining through when McFadden, Saladino, and Spinnato put down their electric instruments and did a couple of songs acoustically, including “Walking Slow”. McFadden mentioned that it was the first time in about 5 years that they didn’t close their set with that song.
They also played “Sun Will Rise” acoustically. The vocal harmonies the guys created on this song were impressive! McFadden mentioned that they just played the song on television on Good Day New York. He joked that his 8-year-old self was totally losing it, because Jodie Sweetin from Full House was on the show the same day they were.
After slowing it down, Animal Years picked the pace back up again with “Caroline”. They were joined on stage for that song by a keyboard player as well.
We got the chance to hear all of the music off Animal Years’ new EP, including “All Mine”. McFadden said this was the first time they had played the song live. On “Forget What Their Telling You”, the band even incorporated a verse of Tom Petty’s “American Girl”.
The band wrapped their set with their current single – “Friends”. However, even though that was supposed to be the last song – Spinnato even started taking apart his drum kit – the crowd was cheering for “one more song!”. McFadden asked someone in the venue if they could do one more, Spinnato put his cymbal back on his drum kit, and they played “Heart on Heart” for the cheering crowd.
Animal Years is embarking on the Far From Home tour, that will take them to cities across the U.S. through mid-June. Their show in Philadelphia kicked off the tour, so you still have plenty of chances to see them over the next couple of months. Be sure to check out their webpage – www.animalyearsmusic.com – and follow them on social media to find out more.
This is a band to check out! They have talent, passion, and desire. I believe they are going places!
Set List (click on any of the links to purchase the song): Intro Song, Home, Talking to You, Give It Up, Walking Slow, Sun Will Rise, Caroline, Let Go Of Your Head, All Mine, Take Off, Meet Me, Forget What They’re Telling You, Friends Encore: Heart on Heart
Did you listen to Animal Years? If so, what did you think? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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