The Lawrence Arms/Red City Radio - Live in Philadelphia (Cover Artwork)

The Lawrence Arms / Red City Radio

Live in Philadelphia (2018)

Live Show

Everyone who has landed on this page is probably familiar with The Lawrence Arms. They are an institution at this point and one of the acts most closely associated with and the OrgCore sound. With the release of We Are The Champions of the World: The Best Of, The Lawrence Arms have been on a bit of victory lap with a release of a series of videos explaining the b-sides to Oh! Calcutta!, chats with popular tastemaker blogs about the legacy of the band, and a tour that is quickly selling out venues across the United States. On April 8, The Lawrence Arms brought their tour, along with Red City Radio, Sincere Engineer, and Ramona, to the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia.

Kicking things off for a short set to a sparse crowd half an hour after doors was recent Philadelphia transplants Ramona. Ramona played a 25-minute set of your standard variety pop-punk including a faithful cover of “Don’t Leave Me” by Blink 182 per request of Red Scare Toby. The band are one to keep an eye out on as their enduring mix of snotty vocals seem to be generating buzz in the Philadelphia punk scene. They were very appreciative of being on the bill noting what an honor it was to be playing with The Lawrence Arms, a theme repeated by each band.

Sincere Engineer followed with an entertaining set of choice cuts off of Rhombithian. There are two ways to deal with stage fright, some people run away from it and some people run towards it. With just an acoustic guitar in hand, Sincere Engineer chose to barrel towards it bantering back and forth with the audience between songs about her dislike of dogs and the awkward quietness of a still filling up venue. She got the crowd to participate in the call and response of “Ghosts in the Graveyard” and more than won over the room, despite her dislike of dogs. She closed with “Corn Dog Sonnet No. 7” and was the standout set of the opening acts.

Red City Radio, touring behind their latest SkyTigers, brought out the first action of the crowd. A pit of dad bods broke out as they plucked out songs spanning their discography. “Two For Flinching,” “Rest Easy,” and “Electricity” were fan favorites with consummate frontman Garrett Dale basking in the audience approval and, as always, letting the crowd know of the band’s deep affection for marijuana and post-show hangs. While the crowd was most familiar with the staples from their past releases, the set was heavy on SkyTigers material and the songs translated exceptionally well in a live setting. The four-part harmonies and guitar solos echoed through the theater. These songs were made for the biggest audience possible and deserve to be heard at full volume.

At 9:52pm, the lights went dark and a waltz version of “We Are The Champions” came over the speakers as Brendan Kelly, Chris McCaughan, and Neil Hennessy made their way on stage. The Lawrence Arms immediately launched into a one-two punch of “Great Lakes/Great Escapes” and “The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City.” The audience responded in turn with finger points and crowd surfing. The first beer-soaked moment of the night occurred a few songs later during “Alert The Audience.” The set seemed to lean heavy on Oh! Calcutta! and The Greatest Story Ever Told with only a handful from Apathy and Exhaustion and Metropole. There was not a song that the audience was not at full volume for including “Beautiful Things” and “Seventeener” off Metropole. With a couple years to percolate in fans’ heads, their now four-year-old and last material receives just as big a response as older fan favorites.

There’s so much joy in what The Lawrence Arms do and it was on full display throughout the set. Kelly crisscrossed the stage soaking up the energy from the crowd. Both Kelley and McCaughan sang each other’s songs when not on the mic and at points, turned the microphones towards each other sharing in the enjoyment. At multiple times, chants broke out from the audience of “Hennessey, Hennessey” and yells for him to take off his shirt. And in case you were wondering, an Eagles chant even broke out showing Philadelphia is still reveling in their Super Bowl win. It was almost farcical that the band stepped away momentarily for the crowd to play along in the encore ritual since everyone know it was coming. After a couple songs, Kelly announced they were going to play a Menzingers’ cover before launching in to “Are You There Margaret? It’s Me, God,” a Lawrence Arms’ cover song known to populate a Menzingers’ set now and again, to close out the night.

It’s clear that this tour is as much a celebration of the incredible and unexpected legacy of The Lawrence Arms as it is their greatest hits record. This is one not to miss if it hits your city.