Strand of Oaks spaces out Hard Love, rocks out with Baroness at Union Transfer
Strand of Oaks | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

Almost ten hours after walking offstage at the World Cafe Live, Strand of Oaks walked onstage at Union Transfer to play their second show of the day. Donned in all black attire and carrying a Goldtop Les Paul, Tim Showalter and co. blasted out the first chords of “Taking Acid and Talking to My Brother,” the psychedelic closer off the band’s latest album, Hard Love.

The band’s set list, complete with rockers (“Rest of It,” “Goshen ’97”) and relaxers (“Shut In,” “Heal”), was as diverse as the ages of the audience, which displayed a healthy supply of X’ers, Boomers and Millennials — proving that rock and roll is as good as a generational bridge as any. As the band’s sound in Hard Love has grown sonically and creatively, it’s onstage live act has followed suit.

Strand of Oaks | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

The Grade A acoustics of the Union Transfer showed off the band’s rehearsed onstage tightness, as the typically talkative Tim Showalter only took brief pauses out of the show to talk to the crowd. At one point he tried to tell the story of the first show Strand of Oaks ever played in Philly, but he couldn’t remember. “I don’t give a shit,” he said, giving up with a laugh. “I’m just not going to talk.” Clearly, he was in the zone.

Other highlights from the setlist were “Plymouth,” “On The Hill,” “J.M.,” and Hard Love‘s lead single “Radio Kids.” During the encore, which feature “J.M.,” and “Goshen ’97,” Showalter brought Baroness frontman John Baizley onstage to jam with the band and sing backup vocals on “Goshen.”

The band’s somewhat recently-honed psychedelic sound was widely on display – thanks in no small part to new lead guitarist Jason Anderson, who had more than a few dramatic mic-sharing, back-to-back-jamming rock out moments with Showalter. This might be in an effort to move away from being “the sad white guy with an acoustic guitar,” as he described in recent interviews. But if there’s one thing Strand of Oaks isn’t done with, it’s making great music, and if you’re asking me, Hard Love marks the beginning of the band’s prime. Cheers to making it last, fellas.

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