If you follow my blog, you know I’m always looking for up and coming bands to go see. The National Reserve got on my radar about a month ago, when I received an e-mail from their publicist about the release of their debut album – Motel La Grange.
I listened to a couple of their songs and was impressed! The first thought that came to my mind was – these guys remind me of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (which is a good thing in my opinion)! When I saw The National Reserve was coming to Philly and playing one of my favorite small venues, I added the show to my concert calendar.
I was a little worried when the band cancelled their show in Boston the night before due to illness. But luckily, Sean Walsh had a quick recovery (according to social media, he hurt his back) and the show went on in Philadelphia. Keep reading to hear more about the show, and this band that you need to check out!
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MilkBoy is one of those places, that if you know its history, it makes it even more special to see a show there.
The “original” MilkBoy is a recording studio founded in 1994 by Tommy Joyner. It is currently located on North 7th Street in Philadelphia, and has served as the recording studio for many nationally known artists including R. Kelly, Miley Cyrus, and the Roots. In 1999, Joyner partnered with composer Jamie Lokoff, and in 2002 they moved the studio to the Philadelphia “main line” suburbs in Ardmore.
In 2006, MilkBoy decided to open a food/coffee shop that also hosted live acoustic music. They opened their first location around the corner from the studio in Ardmore, and then a second location just down Lancaster Avenue in Bryn Mawr.
In 2011, MilkBoy obtained a liquor license and opened their current Center City Philadelphia location at 1100 Chestnut Street. The location is a restaurant/bar with a full menu downstairs. Upstairs is another bar, along with the live music venue.
Tip #1: MilkBoy Philly is open crazy hours. Because the venue is directly across the street from a large hospital, they open at 7 a.m. weekdays and serve a full food and drink menu to cater to the “3rd shifters”. They are also open late night to grab a late night snack or drink after a show.
If you are going to a show at MilkBoy and want to get dinner or a snack beforehand, consider just eating there. Before the show last night, I had the jerk chicken sandwich. The chicken could have used a little more seasoning, but it was good. My husband had the honey bourbon turkey sandwich, which he liked. I would highly recommend getting a bowl of the fried brussel sprouts as an appetizer. They were delicious, and the sauce that came with them was fantastic! My husband loved the sauce so much, he asked our server for the recipe.
MilkBoy also has a great beer and drink selection. Prices are typical for bars/restaurants in the city.
Tip #2: If you are looking to have something different for dinner and like ramen, check out Hiro Ramen. It is located right next door to MilkBoy at 1102 Chestnut Street. They don’t keep their website up to date and they don’t even have a sign above the storefront. However, they have good ramen and it’s BYOB.
If you are going to a show at MilkBoy, the music venue is located upstairs on the second floor. It’s a small venue and a small stage, which makes for a very intimate show and a good view no matter where you stand.
There is a small bar located in the back of the room. Restrooms are also all the way in the back. The bands typically set up a merch table (literally a folding table) at the top of the stairs.
Tip #3: While you will have to buy tickets for the shows at MilkBoy through Ticketfly, you don’t need to have a print out of your ticket. Your name will just be on a list, and you check in when you arrive. Be sure to bring your ID.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Hayley Thompson-King is a singer-songwriter based out of the Boston area. She describes her music as “psychedelic country”. Thompson-King is a trained opera singer, but decided that she wanted to write her own music. She still teaches classical voice lessons to students in her home studio, but has been spending her time focusing on launching her music career.
Her debut album – “Psychotic Melancholia” – was released in September of last year. Thompson-King refers to the album as being influenced by her childhood obsession with the “so-called wicked women” in the bible. She is joined on the album by Chris Maclachlan (bass), Pete Weiss (guitar and also co-produced the album), and Jonathan Ulman (drums).
Thompson-King took the stage at 8:00 p.m., along with the guys that played on her album – Maclachlan, Weiss, and Ulman. She introduced herself and joked that the guys had to go under her name too.
Thompson-King self describes her music as “psychedelic country”, but I found her music to be very diverse. While the opening song definitely had a country vibe to it, I found her second song to be more rock n’ roll.
While most of the songs Thompson-King performed were originals, she did a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Old Flames Can’t Hold a Candle to You”. Thompson-King introduced the song by saying it was written by Pebe Sebert, who happens to be Kesha’s mom. You learn something new every day!
Thompson-King is known for her strong vocals. I could definitely hear some of her operatic training come through on a couple of songs. She is also quite talented on the guitar.
I definitely got the impression that Thompson-King does not shy from controversy either. She described one of her songs as being about “when you think you are pregnant, but it’s just a tumor”. At the end of her set, she played the song “Lot’s Wife” off her debut album. She told the crowd that there are certain places where she can’t play the song, and some radio stations won’t play it either. She wrapped up the show with high energy “Dopestick”.
Hayley Thompson-King opened for The National Reserve at this show and the NYC show. After that, she’ll be heading to Norway and Sweden for the rest of May into mid-June. Check out her website at www.hayleythompsonking.com for more information and additional upcoming tour dates.
ABOUT THE BAND
Transistor Rodeo is based out of Philadelphia. I overheard the drummer talking to someone in the crowd after their set, and they only play a couple of shows per year under the name Transistor Rodeo. A couple of the members play together in a separate cover band. They do have three CD’s out, and have been performing together for 25 years.
Transistor Rodeo took the stage at 8:50 p.m. The had a full implement of instruments on stage, including a violin player and a set of bongos!
The band has a country sound to them. I’m not a big fan of country music, but Transistor Rodeo has just enough rock to them, that I enjoyed the music. They got the crowd dancing with their high energy!
Not only is their music fun, but Transistor Rodeo incorporates a lot of humor in their show as well. When introducing their third song, the lead singer explained how it was a “slow and pretty” song like Doug (guitarist). Doug then reminded him that he skipped a song on the set list, which they both laughed about. Before introducing an acoustic song, the band invited everyone to do some interpretive dancing and get out their scented candles.
Transistor Rodeo also had some fun with a little medley towards the end of their set. They started out with the first verse of “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club. Then they started talking about time and did short bursts of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” and Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time”.
Transistor Rodeo wrapped up their set with a song that the lead singer said was written when he told the band he wanted a ‘70s rock song that would have been played at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. The song was complete with a “rock scream” from their percussionist, as well as the lead singer playing his guitar solo with his guitar behind his head. In line with their humor, he had a sticker on the back of the guitar that said “show off” with an arrow that pointed at him when he played.
As mentioned, Transistor Rodeo only plays a few shows per year. You can keep up with what they are doing by following their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pg/Transistor-Rodeo-1756609351230440/about/?ref=page_internal.
THE NATIONAL RESERVE
ABOUT THE BAND
The National Reserve is based out of Brooklyn, NY. The band was founded by singer-guitarist Sean Walsh, who is joined by Jon LaDeau (guitar, vocals), Matthew Stoulil (bass), Steve Okonski (organ, Wurlitzer piano), and Brian Geltner (drums, vocals).
Walsh started his music career in New Brunswick, NJ, where he hung out at the all-ages house show punk scene. However, he soon became inspired by classic American artists like The Band and Bob Dylan. Those influences led toward Walsh moving to Brooklyn, starting to write songs, and putting together the first iteration of The National Reserve.
When Walsh finally pulled together the current line-up, The National Reserve decided to come off the road. Walsh knew that some of the artists from the past that inspired him, had gotten their start by doing “residencies” at clubs. So, The National Reserve started playing weekly gigs at Brooklyn’s Skinny Dennis in Williamsburg. Their sets were marathon sessions – often lasting four hours – where they played covers of everything from R&B to classic rock, as well as their original songs. Over almost 5 years, they only missed about 10 weeks.
Their debut album – Motel La Grange – is a culmination of 5 years’ worth of writing, recording and re-recording. In fact, the first song on the album is “No More”, which is one of the earliest songs Walsh wrote, and still one of his favorites.
With the new record, The National Reserve has gone back out on the road. No longer able to play their 4-hour sets, they’ve had to adjust to a much shorter set. In order to warm up and really get going, the band plays in their dressing room before they hit the stage.
After an impressively fast set change, The National Reserve took the stage around 10:15 p.m. The band went straight into the music, kicking off the show with something a little harder rocking, and then moving to something a bit more mellow with “Big Bright Light”, which is off their new album.
The National Reserve played most of the songs from Motel La Grange, including “Big Bright Light” and “New Love” at the beginning of the set. They also mixed in some of their older songs. Walsh introduced a song that he said didn’t make it onto the album, but was a song he loved. He said they had forgotten about it, but decided to pull it back out and play it.
During the show, each of the musicians was highlighted. That included Jon LaDeau, who took over lead vocals on a song that he wrote. The show also featured a guest musician on the keys – Brad Mitchell (I believe I have the name correct based on what I heard Walsh say when he introduced him). He had some really crazy featured parts on the keys!
Walsh was very appreciative of the nice-sized crowd that was at the show. He also thanked local public radio station – WXPN – for putting on the show and playing their music on the radio.
The National Reserve wrapped up the end of their set with another great mix of songs. It started with “City of Angels”, which was one of their older singles. Walsh said he wrote that song during a time he lived in Los Angeles. He said it sucked to live there, and he was glad to be back on the east coast. After a cover, they played the title track of their new album – “Motel La Grange” – which Walsh said was written about a very weird hotel he stayed at once. The show wrapped up with a high energy good old-fashioned rock song, that left the crowd wanting more!
So, once again I took a chance on a new band, and once again I was not disappointed! I would love to see The National Reserve at one of their 4-hour marathon shows. The 60 minute set they played was not enough! Catch this band if you can.
The National Reserve is playing a handful of shows in May to celebrate the release of Motel La Grange. The album is now available for sale, and it’s up on all the streaming services. You can also click on any of the links in this post, and purchase the album or songs directly from Amazon. They will be playing some additional shows and festivals throughout the rest of the summer, so be sure to check out their website at www.thenationalreserve.com for more information.
Have you listened to The National Reserve and their new album? If so, what do you think? Have questions about them, or any of the other artists at this show? Please comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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