Alex G | Photo by SImon Klein

While we at The Key were busy with XPN Fest this past weekend, a couple of us snuck over to First Unitarian Church for the third night of OK Fest 2 – a DIY scene benefit festival that was back for its second year, this time in a bigger space with bigger name bands.

The night began with a set from New Paltz, NY’s Quarterbacks. Playing infectious twee-punk, the trio were a treat for those who arrived at the show on time. Their songs – sharp, straightforward, and gentle all at once – began the evening on a high note. Singer Dean Engle, along with bandmates Tom Christie (bass) and Max Restaino (drums), play with a quiet confidence described over at NPR Music as “pop [music] at punk speed.”

Girlpool  | Photo by SImon Klein

Girlpool | Photo by SImon Klein

Next were the LA-formed, Philly-based duo Girlpool, who played a string of songs off their debut full-length Before The World Was Big. Beloved by those both in the Philly DIY scene and beyond (see for yourself with their NPR Tiny Desk Concert), Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker’s powerful guitar and bass paired with their hauntingly fierce vocals cut through the oppressive heat of the Church basement. There were many eager audience members and only so many ceiling fans to accommodate for the sticky summer evening. Still, the crowd was transfixed.

Alex G followed by playing an energetic set that ended with the singer jumping onto his drummer’s kit. He joked with the somewhat rowdy audience by telling them, “You guys have been great… But not as great as us… because we’re an incredible band. We’re giving you ART!” Alternating between his three full-lengths, Rules, DSU, and Trick, Alex and his band played with impressive precision.

Up-and-comers Sheer Mag played fourth, bringing their gritty rock to the stage. Powerhouse singer Christina Halladay wailed over tight punk instrumentals, performing tracks from both EPs (7″ and II 7″). The Philly band has been receiving a lot of attention since their performance at this year’s SXSW, where they proved that garage rock can still be fresh and exciting with the right songwriters (Halladay and co.) behind it.

Last up for the evening were Boston genre benders Pile. A mix of post-hardcore and larger-than-life indie rock, the band delivered an adrenaline rush of a set. Having released their third LP, You’re Better Than This, this past March, Pile impressed a very sweaty crowd with seemingly structureless songs featuring appropriately-placed guitar solos. Even the mosh pit that opened up as the band played fan favorite “Baby Boy” unfolded unexpectedly. People were actually courteous enough to, you know, help others up after body checking them.

The night showcased what there is to love about Philly music (and New Paltz music, and Boston music), all while benefiting the LGBTQ-focused Attic Youth Center. If only we could have caught what the first two nights had in store.