Loud Regardless! A Sunday Night in Philly with Paranoid Social Club.

Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was Sunday night, we’d done some casual day drinking and frankly- I just wasn’t sure how Paranoid Social Club would do playing a show upstairs at World Café Live. It’s a beautiful bar, but not entirely friendly to loud noises and from what I could tell, PSC were all about loud noises. Then there was the lingering issue that I might not even be awake when they play. But lucky for me, they were going on early. Unlucky for them though, because it just seems like there aren’t many people going to rock shows at 8pm on a Sunday night.It’s probably not the best sign when the guy selling tickets has to ask you what kind of band you’re paying to see is- which is what happened while purchasing my ticket for the show.“People have been asking,” he said. “I’m not sure what to tell them. Do you know them? What are they like?”

I told him that they’re just a good ol’ rock ‘n roll band.

“So it might get loud?” He asked.

There was distinct possibility.

When Rustic Overtones played this same room a few years ago, they played an acoustic set. But I couldn’t see Paranoid doing that. I remember them from my Sidecar days and they never really seemed to care about what might be “the right thing to do.” I thought there was a chance they’d strip it down a bit, but that chance was a small one. I sat at the bar and ordered a beer while they sound checked. It was going to be loud.

Not much of a crowd and it seemed as if only the two tables up front were fans. PSC opened with “It’s the Beat” into “Cable Hook-Up” and quiet room be damned, they were going to be loud. Two douche rockets at the bar who were hitting on the bartender started making douche rocket comments about the noise level. Go home, pricks. The bartender really didn’t seem to mind. She had ear plugs. It seemed both of us were happy when the two fart knockers left.

Plain and simple, PSC rocked. I had always admired their live shows and from the first few tunes, I could tell that they hadn’t lost a step. Dave Gutter remains one of my favorite front men and the addition of Trent Gay on guitar and vocals was a great move. He fits in perfectly. It was a little jarring watching Craig Sala play drums, as I had always been a fan on Marc Boisvert, but Sala is a pro and held it done like only a pro could. And the Silver Fox, Jon Roods, is the band’s wizard- laying down solid bass lines, playing keyboards and handling the samples that Boisvert used too. They’re just tight. They are in control and have a plan. You see a lot of middling, wandering bands out there so it was refreshing to see a band hit the stage, own that stage and make it theirs. Professional in rock music is a lost art.

But the highlight of the night was watching the reactions of those people who just wandered in, either for a beer or two grab some food. These people, the ones unfamiliar with PSC, were the ones I started watching. I witnessed one dude have a oh shit this band is awesome moment and I watched as the wait and kitchen staff started assembling at one end of the bar to watch PSC play. The bartender with the ear plugs was bobbing her head to “Cut In” as she wiped down the bar. Man I was almost proud.

I always used to think that PSC could be huge if only more people saw them. Maybe that will happen on this tour (which takes them to South By Southwest and then out to California.) They’ve become much more of a rock band, less robotic and machine like than they were a few years ago. There’s more humanity to their music now, a perfect example is “Count on Me,” a real barnburner of a rock song, that even in a acoustic-friendly room like the upstairs at World Café, sounded bombastically awesome.

I haven’t had a bombastically awesome sounding Sunday night in a while.

Thanks PSC. I hope the next show is in a room better suited for you.

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