The Pinheads/Billy Liar - Live at The Tusk (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Pinheads / Billy Liar

Live at The Tusk (2018)


On October 18th I drove into Philly to The Tusk, a small venue situated upstairs at the Wooly Mammoth, ostensibly to see Billy Liar as he toured down the coast to this year's The Fest. Two other bands were announced, yet it turned out there were three. Score!!! There wasn't much of a theme to the gig- three of the acts were acoustic, two would be considered 'punk' in general terms. But that didn't stop this show from being pretty damn fun.

Starting things off were The Screamin' Rockets. Decidedly *not* punk, this duo specializes in a combination of classic rock'n'roll ditties that, at least this evening, they performed acoustically along with a few original compositions thrown in for good measure. Talented and tight in their coordination, it was a kick to see them play.

Next up was Grace Solero from London. Grace alternates between acoustic and full band performances but tonight she only had her little acoustic guitar and her voice. Her full-band act delves deeply into alternative rock and, when she breaks those songs down solo, she applies a tinge of folk to the mix to great effect. Grace's set was marred a bit by technical difficulties causing her guitar's signal to keep dropping in and out, but that didn't really change her performance. She powered through as the venue was small enough that her guitar could be hear naturally and, to be honest, I could've just listened to her voice alone as it lilted between pain and exuberance, anguish and joy.

Third to hit the stage was Billy Liar on his "Spooky Bullshit" tour, which saw him wind his way down to this year's The Fest. Hailing from Scotland, Billy has been on the scene for a decade or so. He plays acoustic, and alternates between a full band and solo, but usually seems to be on tour alone. Whereas Grace was gentle if sometimes powerful, Billy's repertoire is defined by whiplash fast strumming and pent-up aggression. His songs are deep, fast, and powerful to hear. A reserved guy off-stage, when Billy is performing he is an entirely different beast, one that can get the crowd riled up in ways that most acoustic musicians can't

Topping off the night were The Pinheads, a Ramones cover band seemingly pieced together more for the sake of playing Ramones songs, and boy does it work. The crowd was jumping and hopping, classic Ramones tracks were played, and Billy Liar also hopped in to help out on vocals for a snazzy rendition of "Pet Semetary."

Overall a fun, if slightly disparate, evening in the middle of Philly.