With a spiffy new record out this year, Maritime came to Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia Oct. 13 with three goals: Drink some beers, talk about baseball and maybe play the occasional song. The guys were hilarious throughout their hour-plus set, and they even brought along some solid openers in Deleted Scenes and The Life and Times.
First though, the crowd had to get through an awkward bonus set from Victor Villarreal (ex-Cap’n Jazz/Joan of Arc). Villarreal was gearing up for a tour of his own, so he opted to test out some new material with just an acoustic guitar and a tambourine. While his guitar playing was both proficient and often beautiful, Villarreal’s unfamiliarity with his own songs led to a lot of weird stops/starts while he tried to play along with his notebook. People never quite knew when to clap. Dude trotted out a solid cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” though.
Up-and-comers Deleted Scenes kicked things up a notch though. Spastic and electrifying a la XTC and Dismemberment Plan, the band tore at their instruments with a terrifying urgency. Everyone in this band is really good at what they do. Drummer Brian Hospital dropped insane beats with force; the guy really didn’t even need to be miked. Bassist Matt Dowling took on extra duties with back-up vox and keyboards, while Dominic Campanaro opted for just keys ‘n’ guitar. Then there was Daniel Scheuerman. Scheuerman’s guitar playing had a percussive feel to it that gave the group’s indie dance rock some extra grit. As a vocalist, he wasn’t afraid to shriek or cry out in a childlike voice before dropping to a bark. Deleted Scenes took me by surprise and made me a fan of their new record, Young People’s Church of the Air.
To be honest, I wasn’t too keen on The Life and Times. After listening to Deleted Scenes’ angular tunes, TLAT came off as robotic post-rock. Drummer Chris Metcalf sported a Russian Circles shirt, and it’s clear that group is an influence. But the crowd really, really liked them. A couple of people were air drumming. Even more people were head bobbing in unison as the band sliced through one pseudo-shoegaze/indie rock tune after another.
When I think of Maritime, I think lush, atmospheric pop rock. Perhaps inspired by the openers, Maritime instead brought the rock hard. They kicked off their set with “For Science Fiction,” off of 2007’s Heresy and the Hotel Choir, and from then on out they just kept ripping through numbers from across their discography. With the exception of “The Window is the Door” during the encore, the band rarely let up. Frontman Davey von Bohlen was constantly dancing on stage, while drummer/keyboardist Dan Didier amped up the tunes a couple of notches.
They were just as entertaining in between songs, though. von Bohlen has been in a ton of bands (The Promise Ring, Cap’n Jazz, Vermont), so he’s got experience working crowds. He told jokes and stories while tuning, whether it was discussing the pros and cons of Paul Simon playing “Cecilia” twice in a row live or just dropping baseball commentary. He was also a good listener as well; when a fan called out for “Annihilation Eyes,” off the group’s stellar latest album Human Hearts, von Bohlen chucked the setlist and delivered.
Personally, I was most stoked to hear new material like “It’s Casual” and “Air Arizona” live, although the crowd also went off for older tunes like “Guns of Navarone.” After a 60-minute set and three-song encore, Maritime bowed out to applause and (presumably) more beers ‘n’ baseball.