If you haven’t heard of Rubblebucket, it’s time you checked them out.
Their new album Sun Machine is out now, and they just kicked off a headlining tour. I first discovered Rubblebucket a couple of years ago. Rubblebucket opened for Lake Street Dive at a show at Union Transfer in October of 2016.
Flash forward almost exactly two years, and Rubblebucket was back at Union Transfer as the headliners. Would Rubblebucket be able to pull off a headlining show? Keep reading to find out!
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Union Transfer is one of the great small indoor venues in Philadelphia. The building has been lots of different things including a farmer’s market, tire shop, and a Spaghetti Warehouse. A major transformation, including installation of a state of the art sound system, was done in 2011 to convert the building into Union Transfer.
You can read more about the venue, along with my tips for attending a show there, here:
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Star Rover is a duo made up of Will Graefe (guitar, vocals) and Jeremy Gustin (drums, vocals). The guys are based out of New York. Gustin also happens to be the drummer for Rubblebucket. They just released their album – I May Be Lost But I’m Laughing – earlier this month.
Star Rover took the stage at 8:30 p.m. Their songs are a mix of instrumentals and songs with lyrics. In fact, the second song they played was completely instrumental.
While I enjoyed the music, I felt like some of their songs needed lyrics. As the people I was with pointed out, it was almost like they were a great back-up band that needed a lead singer.
Star Rover’s music sometimes has a “mood music” feel to it. Just when you think it’s going to be mellow, however, they bust out into some heavy hitting guitars that are certainly not calming.
It’s fun to see bands that are friends help each other out, and that’s clearly the case for Star Rover and Rubblebucket. Not only does Gustin play drums for both bands, but Graefe brought Ryan Dugre on stage for the last song. Dugre, who plays guitar for Rubblebucket, is an old roommate of Graefe’s.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Diet Cig is based out of New Paltz, New York and started making music together in September of 2014. The duo is made up of Alex Luciano (guitar/vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums).
The pair met at a house show in 2014. Luciano was at the show watching Bowman’s old band – Earl Boykins – play. Luciano needed a cigarette lighter, so she interrupted the show to ask Bowman if he had one. After the show, Luciano got Bowman’s number and a short time later they were making music together.
The duo’s first EP – Over Easy – was released in February of 2015. Diet Cig recorded all the songs on the EP in one night – on Halloween of 2014. The songs, which were all written by Luciano, focus on the annoying things about the music scene.
Diet Cig released their first full album – Swear I’m Good At This – in April of 2017. The songs on the album express the duo’s feelings about people who’ve dismissed their opinions or judged them unfairly.
This band is full of energy! Luciano makes me tired just watching her!
Luciano started the show by saying that this show was rated “first base safe” – dance around and have a great time, but don’t touch people around you that don’t want to be touched.
Diet Cig is very reminiscent of some of the early punk bands. Their second song – Scene Sick – is a good example of that.
I think Diet Cig has some great potential, and a lot of that is due to Luciano and her personality on stage. I’m not sure if she was a cheerleader in her past, but between her bubbly personality and her dancing on stage (including lots of kicks!), I could definitely see her doing that.
In addition to the music, Diet Cig seems to have a great message of positivity and believing in yourself. At one point during the show, Luciano asked the whole audience to say “I will not water myself down for anyone else”. She also gave a shout out to anyone in the LGBTQ community and the band was collecting money after the show to support one of their organizations.
We got a chance to chat with Luciano and Bowman after the show, and they were really sweet and so excited to be playing Philly and be on the road with Rubblebucket. As we told them, my husband and I always check out the openers for shows we go to. We’ve found a lot of great new bands that way. I think we just added Diet Cig to that list!
Diet Cig is currently on the road with Rubblebucket through the end of November. You can find out more about them on their website at www.dietcig.com.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Rubblebucket is a quirky little indie band based out of Brooklyn, NY. The band is made up of Annakalmia (Kalmia) Traver (lead vocals, tenor and baritone saxophone) and Alex Toth (backing vocals, trumpet, bandleader). They also have several musicians that travel with them including Jeremy Gustin (drums), Ryan Dugre (guitar), Adam Dotson (trombone) and Noga Shefi (bass).
The band formed when Toth And Traver met as music majors at the University of Vermont. They released their debut album – Rose’s Dream – in March of 2008 and began touring under the name Rubblebucket Orchestra.
In October of 2008, they released their second studio album – Rubblebucket – and dropped the “Orchestra” from their name.
In 2011, the band released their third album – Omega La La – and released it first as a free download. They also embarked on an extensive promotional tour, including an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Their fourth studio album – Survival Sounds – was released in 2014. The album gained some success and the single “Came Out Of A Lady” was featured in the movie “Drinking Buddies”. While on tour supporting the album, Traver was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She continue to tour while completing treatment.
In 2017, Rubblebucket had their biggest commercial success with the release of their EP – If U C My Enemies. Their single of the same name got some play on alternative radio during the summer of 2017.
Rubblebucket’s latest full-length album – Sun Machine – was released earlier this year.
If you’ve never been to a Rubblebucket show, you are missing out on an experience. The first question is always – What is Traver going to be wearing when she comes out? For this show, it was a white puffy blouse with black pants and bright red boots. She also occasionally accessorized with a giant white flower hat.
The band is out touring to promote their new album Sun Machine, and the set list definitely focused on the new songs. They opened with “What Life Is” and “Donna”, which are both off the new album. Even though “Donna” appears on the new album, they’ve been playing it live for a while. Traver introduced it as “Imaginary Lovers”, which I thought was odd (and it wasn’t printed that way on the set list).
A Rubblebucket show is a party from beginning to end. Whether it’s Traver asking everyone to get down low and then pop up and start jumping, or Toth climbing on someone’s shoulders and playing the trumpet as he is paraded through the crowd.
Traver is a machine on stage – alternating between the keyboards and that huge baritone sax, all the while managing lead singer duties.
Having seen Rubblebucket several times over the past two years, I feel like they really took it a notch up for this tour. The show certainly isn’t a sleekly produced spectacle like something you would see from a more established band, but you can definitely see that they put some thought into the production. There is more lighting, there are screens that they utilize throughout the show, giant balloons that the crowd passes around, and the flow of the songs was well thought through.
Even though Rubblebucket is clearly starting to gain a lot more popularity, they still have the core of that band that started out playing tiny venues. During “Came Out Of A Lady”, Traver even did some crowd surfing. And, as they wrapped up their set with “Carousel Ride”, they exited the stage as they always do – through the crowd, playing their instruments and parading to the merch stand.
After the show, I got a set list and had the opportunity to say hello to Traver and Toth, who signed the set list for me. As always, when some of my favorite smaller bands start getting popular, I’m torn. I’m happy for Rubblebucket and their success, but I hope I can still chat with them after shows while they are out there selling their own merch.
Rubblebucket is on tour promoting their new album through the beginning of December. Check out their website at www.rubblebucket.com to see if they are coming to a city near you.
Set List (click on any link to buy the song directly on Amazon): What Life Is, Donna, Forlornification, On The Ground, If U C My Enemies, Fruity, Party Like Your Heart Hurts, Formless and New, Annihilation Song, Sunlit Sparks, Came Out Of A Lady, Lemonade, Habit Creature Encore: Shake Me Around (refrain only), Carousel Ride
Have you heard of Rubblebucket or any of the other bands from this show? Tell us what you think! Comment below or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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