Tommy Castro | Photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN
Free at Noon Flashback: Tommy Castro & The Painkillers take the World Cafe Live back to their Stompin’ Ground
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers‘ tour behind their new album Stompin’ Ground has been a self-described series of record release parties. And though the four-piece blues-meets-rock-‘n-roll band didn’t have an official tour date in Philly this round (they made a suburban stop at the Sellersville Theater last night), they sure brought the all the party spirit to the midday crowd at World Cafe Live this afternoon.
Playing for over an hour and drawing mostly from Stompin’ Ground — plus a few oldies and some covers — Tommy Castro & The Painkillers won the hearts of those in the audience and almost — just almost — made us want to take them up on their offer to hop in the tour bus and join them on the road as they head to Virginia to play Wolf Trap tonight.
The band started off with the rollicking “Rock Bottom” from the new album, its bluesy and laid-back vibes setting the tone for the rest of the eight-song set. Castro & crew’s sound ranges from relaxed blues to heavier rock, and every song sounds completely original and entirely timeless all at once. Some of the set’s highlights included the fast-paced “Ride,” which elicited some dancing along from the crowd, and the fiery “The Devil You Know,” the title track of the band’s 2014 album.
Nostalgic track “My Old Neighborhood,” took us back to Castro’s youth, the narrative-driven song recalling the album’s theme of coming of age in San Jose, where Castro drove his ’64 Thunderbird and listened to classic blues tunes — and eventually became inspired to write songs himself. The band’s drawn-out rendition of “Them Changes” — a Buddy Miles original that has merited a lot of covers over the years — gave us a new look at a familiar old jam, paying tribute to the very music that has made Tommy Castro & The Painkillers what they are.
Castro — looking pretty cool with his on-stage sunglasses — took advantage of some of the songs’ extended guitar interludes to indulge the crowd, leaving his center-stage mic to move closer to the audience. Noting the rarity of midday concerts, Castro encouraged everyone to up the energy, forget about their lives outside the venue and act it was Saturday night. The crowd didn’t seem to object, shouting for an encore after the band walked offstage. Tommy Castro & The Painkillers delivered — returning for a poignant cover of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers’ “Breakdown.”
Tommy Castro & The Painkillers’ Stompin’ Ground is out now. Check out photos from the show below.
The Devil You Know
Enough Is Enough
Blues All Around Me
My Old Neighborhood