Philadelphia punk rockers Mannequin Pussy rocked the house Friday night at The Secret Group, 2101 Polk, along with fellow Philly noisemakers Empath and New York-based T-Rextasy. The trio of East Cost punk pop and noise punk bands put on equally chaotic and beautiful performances to a packed and energetic house.
T-Rextasy, an all women four-piece punk-pop ensemble, broke the ice with their charming mix of hard charging punk instrumentals and frontwoman Lyris Faron's high pitched, sharp vocals. The girls poked fun at their pseudo-woke exes with their popular and wildly entertaining song "Gap Yr Boiz", and explored the potentially uncomfortable gray space between girl friends and girlfriends with the aptly named, "Girl, Friend". The femme-punks from New York warmed themselves to a hesitant crowd, by the end earning cheers and encore calls as they packed their gear.
Next followed Philly-based noise punks Empath, whose ambient noise driven, hard rocking punk performance hypnotized the intimate room. Through heavy layering of various soundscapes, dual keyboards, heart pounding drumming and the syrupy sweet vocals of singer/guitarist Catherine Elicson, the quartet put a psychedelic spell on their crowd.
Their set was sewn together into one long jam sesh with tracks joined by instrumental peaks and valleys and the introduction of new ambient sounds. The group's skilled shredding mixed with found sounds like bird calls and digital feedback created a manic and somehow calming euphoric experience.
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After two electrically charged opening acts, the evening's headliners did not disappoint. Mannequin Pussy wasted no time jumping into their set, with singer Marisa Dabice's powerful and ranged voice igniting the already animated crowd. Her soaring vocals stole the show with track after track of emotional and autobiographical punk ballads. Dabice shred on guitar, along with band-mates Athanasios Paul (guitar), Colins Rey Regisford (bass) and Kaleen Reading (drums).
The group is currently on tour, fresh off the release of their third studio album Patience, which Pitchfork called a "balance between seething chaos and quietly devastating vulnerability." The more refined nature of the album, with its pop-driven vocals and more professionally composed instrumentals, shone through in songs like "Drunk II" and "Patience". Yet, the group flexed their unhinged punk muscles as well with tracks like "Meatslave" from their second album Romantic, and the newer single "Cream".
By the end of the three sets, an exhausted and gleeful crowd shuffled out, heads and hearts still ringing with a mix of Dabice's emotionally charged vocal performance, Empath's aggressive sonic vibrations and T-Rextasy's off kilter punk pop seductions. Friday's show reminds us why we love intimate back room performances in small venues like The Secret Group.