It’s a hot Friday night and a band I’ve been hankering to see for a few years is finally in town and ready to rock. Yes, boys and girls, the Weeks are playing Underground Arts and I’m stoked and ready. Yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhh!
The Weeks have been around for a while now. Led by twin brothers Cyle and Cain Barnes, the band formed in Florence, Mississippi when the members were between 14 and 16 years old. That was way back in 2006. Now that they are all grown up, the boys still are together, living in Nashville, and putting out alternative/indie/southern rock that has caught my fancy.
I first saw the Weeks open up for the Revivalists a number of years back, and they tore through a ½ hour set that had me asking “who are these guys?” I tracked them down via Spotify and liked their recorded output very much. Knowing they were good live and on acetate, I was psyched to see them on tour when they were headlining. But I had to first suffer through a few near misses. The worst was earlier this summer when I changed our plans to head to Nashville on a Thursday, opting for Friday instead, while attending a wedding event that took place on Saturday. Of course, after I made that change of plans, the Weeks announced a show in Nashville that Thursday. Properly chastened, I kept an eye out for when they would tour and hit Philly, and that opportunity recently presented itself.
None of my suck friends wanted to see them, but Helen soldiered on even though she isn’t a big fan of UA. As regular readers know (yes, I mean both of you), UA has become one of my favorite venues in Philly. The stage is kind of small (but not so small that the band doesn’t have room to work, i.e., it’s not Boot and Saddle), and the place is a concrete basement, but I’ve seen some great shows there: Marah’s Christmas show (twice), Stiff Little Fingers, the Strypes, the Meat Puppets, a double-bill of the English Beat and Paul Collins Beat, Titus Andronicus, Protomartyr(!), the list goes on and on. Anyway, whoever does the bookings for UA has their finger on the pulse of the BRP hotlist. And lo, they booked the Weeks.
Of course, the cheaper the show, the more bands there are, right? This was a $15 triple bill. And while I usually don’t comment on the openers unless they compel me to, this was a compelling evening. The first band was a Philly local called the Vernes. I had never heard of them, and my first impression wasn’t a good one. It was Area 51 night or something, and they came out in alien garb that was, ahem, revealing. Hey guys, if you’re going to wear something that tight and stretchy, you better stuff some socks. Those were some teeny wieners, haha, and it wasn’t the least bit cold in the room. Nonetheless, the band made up for their limp membership by playing about 7 really catchy pop-rock songs that had me noting them in my phone for further inquiry. Unfortunately, their live act is much stronger than their recorded output, which is overproduced pop jangle. Still, I recommend that you see them live if you can get the opportunity.
Next up was a band from LA called Spendtime Palace. I don’t know why, but the lead singer grated on me from the time he took the stage. He seemed cocky and arrogant or something, and I just didn’t care for him. He was all LA. But his voice was a complete knockoff of Julian Casablancas of the Strokes. I mean as close as you can come – sort of like the ripoff singer from Greta Van Fleet stealing Robert Plant’s Led Zeppelin vocals. You would have sworn that it was the Strokes playing. Except the songs weren’t as good. And they weren’t drunk out of their minds. Still, they played a Strokes cover and it was their strongest output of the evening and had the crowd yelling for more. I like the Strokes. But this guy grated on me.
Let’s talk about the crowd. I used to say that Philly had a great music scene because every show I went to was sold out. It’s been years since I’ve said that. I still think Philly has a good music scene, but when bands like Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are forced to play tiny venues like Boot and Saddle, something is amiss. And I have to tell you, I was disappointed with the size of the crowd for the Weeks (but it did lead to a very interesting story that I’ll tell in a minute). The place was a bit more than half full, which is great for me because I can simply stroll up to the front of the stage and get pictures before I spit at the band (just kidding on the latter), but it’s not good for the bands who are actually trying to make a living. It still galls me that ass-clowns like Billy Joel get to sell out stadiums and make large money while great bands like the Weeks struggle to feed themselves. Life is not fair, I know, but still. And Philly is disappointing in that great bands come to town and venues are half full. Maybe it’s a comment on rock dying, or maybe it’s a comment on the over-saturation of live music (and its commensurate expense), but something is amiss in Rocky’s hood.
Anyway, the Weeks finally took the stage and simply rocked it with a really strong set. I have to tell you that the lead singer Cyle Barnes has a very interesting stage presence. He doesn’t play any instrument, but has a great southern vocal style that is undeniably great. But he has some oddly effeminate mannerisms that are almost distracting, and he rolls his eyes up when he is singing, sort of like a great white shark does right before it clamps down on its prey. It’s somewhat unusual. That being said, I think he’s great. Here’s another unusual thing. His twin brother, Cain, plays the drums. We noticed that the brothers have identical tattoos in the same places on their bodies. I don’t mean one tattoo, either. I mean several visible tats. Does that strike you as strange? Or is it that twins thing?
Regardless, the band just ripped through their best tracks. And the bassist, Damien Bone, is one entertaining dude on the stage. He really feels the music and is constantly moving. He’s also interacting with the crowd, and got them inspired enough so that he did the stage dive thing. Now, remember, this wasn’t a sold out show and the crowd was not packed in before the stage. Still, they caught Damien twice, once while he was still playing his bass and once when he put down his instrument and went for it. It was cool. In fact, it was so cool that some jackass in the crowd decided to emulate him, and jumped up on the stage for his own dive into the crowd. However, the crowd did a Dewey Finn and simply backed away and let the dude plunge onto the concrete floor. Injured? Maybe, but hard to know because the security guy swooped in on his ass and jacked his arm up his back as he run-walked him out of the venue. It was different and, yeah, even a little enjoyable.
Back to the show. The band was red hot, tight and jamming hard. They blasted through great songs like Bottle Rocket, Dear Bo Jackson, Grind Your Teeth, Girls Like You, Talk Like That, Brother In The Night, The House We Grew Up In and Buttons. There were plenty of other tracks, too, thus proving that this band can crank through a full and complete set of tunes that has you hankering for more but massively entertained. I was psyched for the show, and the Weeks didn’t disappoint. Now, I know that I like a lot of shows – I’m like the grommet surfer, more stoked than anyone even though I’ve been to tons of shows – but trust me that if you like hard rockin’ bands, you’ll dig the Weeks.
Remember when you were a kid and had to figure out the moral for each story you read? Here’s the moral for this show. Never stage dive into a crowd that is not packed to the gills.
Thanks for your patience while I catch up on my backlog here at BRP – maybe use my lengthy wait to see the Weeks as a role model for your behavior? Yeah, keep checking to see where I’m at, and if you see that I’ve posted, doggedly pursue it. And with that, I’ll catch you on the flipside.
My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.