Date: Friday, September 20th. 2013
Line Up: Pepper, Grieves, RDGLDGRN
Venue: TLA. Philadelphia, PA
Friday night in South Philly was opened up by Washington D.C. natives RDGLDGRN, pronounced Red-Gold-Green. Now I have just recently heard of these guys, but didn’t really know what to expect when they came on the stage except that the singer, Green, was wearing all green, the guitarist Red, was wearing all red, and the bass player, Gold, was wearin gold. In fact these guys actually go by these names, and I think that’s pretty unique with the music to back it up.
As the crowd continued to settle in, RDGLDGRN packed the crowd in the front of the stage as they got “hands in the air”, from the fans, maximizing the time of their short set list. Right away though, I noticed a really energized stage presence by these guys, especially front man, Green, who jumped around and climbed down into the pit to be one with the crowd. These guys can put on a great performance and they were an unexpected upgrade for the 7:30pm slot. They almost reminded me of the great Rage Against The Machine, but not quite as heavy. These guys were able to easily win over the crowd and by the end, I think they had more then a few new fans.
After the boys from D.C. finished up I started walking around trying to talk to some fans and see their thoughts on the previous band, as well as the upcoming rap artist, Grieves. I ran into one fan in particular, Bob, who told me he was there for Grieves and only found out Pepper was headlining when he got there. Even though that didn’t seem to be a common theme, it was clear there were Grieves fans in the building, wearing beanies and flat brims, lip rings, and jeans to try to match the profile of the rapper.
As a hip-hop head and a fan of Rhymesayers Ent., I have been listening to this dude for a couple years, but I haven’t seen him live, yet. When Grieves hit the stage, it was like the first time I heard his music allover again. Without even getting a chance to see what the crowd was doing, I stood there, transfixed.
If you don’t know about Grieves, his style is closer to neo-soul/rap combined with deep poetic lyrics. He has a storytelling ability that can keep you on the edge of every word. When I finally turned around to look at the crowd, I found that as the fans were bobbing and weaving with the wave of his hand, they seemed to be listening to what he had to say – a true testament of a live rap artist. He had some live instruments on stage with him as well, including guitar and piano, which brought a jazzy element on top of his already dark beats and heavy bass kicks. In addition to his live performance, he was also frequent to take time out to thank his fans, new and old, as being an integral part of his music. I will just say, a long with his stellar performance and genuine attitude, his music was a great transition from the already upbeat rock & grunge sound of RDGLDGRN.
Music is a big part of the Philadelphia culture, especially down at the TLA where there is always a broad range of bands and artists hoping to sell out the mid-size venue. Reggae rock is not a dominating genre in the area, so with the Hawaiian fellas and the release of their new album, I was not really sure what to expect by the time Pepper hit the stage. By the time Grieves was done, the place was basically filled, and I was stuck down in the front corner of the 3-foot wide “pit”.
I used what time I had between sets to get a chance to meander around & talk to fans. Some were too drunk or “intoxicated” to give me a decent quote other then the occasional “PEPPER ROCKS!”, but eventually I found some worth talking to.
Music advocate, Josh and his girlfriend Steph, were in the bar area, sitting in the same seats since the start of RDGLDGRN, now excited for Pepper, as Josh said “I got a chance to catch the Dirty Heads this year and 311 w/Cypress Hill, but this is our first time seeing Pepper. My favorite album is ‘In With the Old’, but I got a chance to listen to the new album and I’m excited for tonight.”
Josh wasn’t alone as more and more fans crowded in packing the place up, and as the lights finally settled over the TLA, the madness ensued.
Now Pepper brings a lot of personality to their studio music and seems to put an enormous amount of energy into their songs, but this was nothing compared to what they brought on the stage. Before the second song “Freeze” was over, guitarist/vocalist Kaleo Wassman and bassist/vocalist Bret Bollinger, were both already dripping in sweat. I’ve also never seen so much energy from a bass guitar, I mean usually its like a chill, laid back instrument – well that was what I thought pre-Pepper concert, because now that I’ve seen Bret rip that thing, I’ll never look at it the same. And on drums, of course, was Yesod Williams, who is a beast back there and really ties this trio together.
If you can believe it, these guys have been playing together since ’97 and after releasing 5 albums between 2000 and 2008, they finally released their self-titled 6th studio album on September 3, 2013 via Island Records. On stage Bret joked with Kaleo “Five fucking years is a long time”, as Kaleo retorted “But aren’t you glad we took our time!?”.
As they continued their long set, I thought we’d see a little more of their new material, but in the end, they still ended up scattering 6 of their new songs into the set list including their hit single “Fuck Around” and one of my personal favorites with “Illuminate”. As the night went on, Pepper clearly satisfied their fans with an awesome encore of “Stone Love” and “Ashes” before calling it quits and finishing up the long, energized night.
Before leaving I was also able to catch up with Christine and Sam, best friends and Pepper lovers, who said “Wow, they were even better then the last time e saw them. We also really liked Grieves and RDGLDGRN, but Pepper was definitely the highlight of the night!”
And with that, my Friday night ended. It was all brought together by a complimentary group of artists, all at different stages of their careers, yet all inspired by the same thing – love for the music and love for their fans. Big thanks to Pepper & the access they always grant The Pier – Let us know what Pepper show you fans plan on going to!
Stand and Fall
Point and Shoot
Like Your Style
Bring Me Along
Give It Up
Article By: Andrew McClatchy
Photos By: Bill Colbridge
More Photos From The Night: