A night of seasonal cheer from Cheerleader at Johnny Brenda’s
So it wasn’t explicitly a holiday show. We should make that clear from the get-go; it was mostly just a regular Saturday night at Johnny Brenda’s with three like-minded bands playing delightfully danceable indie rock. But Philly’s Cheerleader nevertheless crafted a totally festive vibe for their last show of 2014.
Usually clad in summery polo shirts, the band wintered up their attire: keyboard player Josh Pannepacker boasting a Christmas sweater, singer-guitarist Joe Haller in a husky checkered red flannel and a skull cap. With shots of whiskey lined up at the front of the stage, toasted the bustling crowd and thanked them for an amazing 2014 – their first as a full-on band, and a successful one as far as getting their music heard and their name on the radar of tastemakers in the US and abroad. They played a charming cover of Mel Tormé’s “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” which you can watch a video clip of below.
But mostly they just rocked, getting the crowd (and the members of opening band Louds) dancing along to their indie dance jams. It’s a solid sound; 80s-inspired melodies and hooks infused with a contemporary electro-pop edge. “By Your Side” and “Perfect Vision” were two favorites; the breezy California pop tune “Do What You Want” was a nice slow dance moment. I imagine there will be more sounds from Cheerleader on the way in 2015, and i’m stoked to soak them in.
Opening the show was Dream Safari, which we last saw on the bill of Cruisr’s album release show, and his Duran Duran-esque dance pop and charismatic stage presence set the night off right. Early arrivers caught the aforementioned Louds, a new band featuring Juston Stens, Ryan Crump (of Stens’ Get Real Gang) and songwriting brothers Charlie and Petie Brooks. Their shimmery psychedelic new wave and matching all-white attire was a nice treat, sonically and visually. Check out photos from the show below.