On Friday, April 26, at Underground Arts, Shannen Moser, Hatchie, and Girlpool put on a varied and memorable show.
I did not have high expectations for the first opener, Philadelphia local Shannen Moser. She, however, blew me away. Supported only by a cello, Moser filled the cavernous venue with her powerful voice and haunting lyrics. ָAlthough quite different genre–wise than the following acts, she still managed to win over the gathering crowd. It was not a large group at this point, but those who were there were very engaged. The wistfulness and nostalgia of her songs reminded me of fellow Philly native, Kississippi.
With her setlist written in Sharpie on a piece of cardboard, Moser felt endearingly relatable, as did the experiences she describes in her songs. Her set was filled with eloquent yearning and melancholic reminiscence—folk simplicity at its finest. Standouts for me especially were “Haircut Song” and “Baby Blue." Her guitar melodies paired well with the cello as well, creating a full and warm sound. Moser’s set certainly made me glad I arrived early.
Next came direct support, Hatchie, the project of Australian singer and bassist, Harriette Pilbeam. Pilbeam and her band exuded an effortless cool on stage without taking themselves too seriously. Her sultry vocals sounded natural and graceful. The music itself felt like an amalgam of surfy pop–y summery grunge.
What surprised me the most, however, was how many people came out just for Hatchie. I talked to several fans after their set who said they didn’t even know who Girlpool was—they had only come for Hatchie. All of them had a similar story: they found her on Spotify through their Weekly Discover playlist. Regardless, Hatchie now has a growing and devoted American following. One superfan was telling me that she went to the sold out Alvvays and Snail Mail concert back in September to see Hatchie.
Last came Girlpool, who despite admitting they were a little worn down in this middle leg of their tour, still seemed to have a lot of fun with each other performing. Girlpool is the project of Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, but their touring ensemble swelled to include a second guitarist/bassist, a drummer, and a keys player.
Throughout the set, Tividad, Tucker, and the guitarist/bassist switched instruments in a rather comical display of sharing. They focused their set on their newer material, especially their latest album, What Chaos Is Imaginary. This makes sense, given that Tucker came out in 2017 as transgender (Tucker now uses they/them pronouns), and has been undergoing hormonal therapy, which lowered their voice a full octave. As a result, they are now unable to sing many of Girlpool’s early hits.
Tucker’s transition marked a sort of transition in the band’s sound. What was once sparse DIY has become a more ambiguous, effortless, ethereal soundscape that permeated the venue and delighted the crowd. I can’t wait to see what Girlpool does next.