From punk to psych to jazz, Curtis Cooper and friends shine at Johnny Brenda's - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Curtis Cooper | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Curtis Cooper is solidifying their spot as a Philadelphia favorite. Their release show last Friday showcased what the words Punk, Psych, and Rock mean to the city of brotherly love in 2018. 

The song “Mambo No. 5” bookended the opening set from Coping Skills, and proved to be a fitting hype song for this self proclaimed “moderately gay, post-ironic, bummer pop” trio.  “4 Days with Me Will Change Your Life (Cool Girl),” a song about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope in movies like Garden State, Almost Famous, even Beauty and the Beast, gave the band an opportunity to tell the crowd that whatever age you are, it’s awkward to yell dick onstage with your parents in the audience.

“i’ll never call you out when you’re being a dick

or point out all the times your stupid rape jokes made me sick

i’ll giggle even when you’re not funny at all“

Coping Skills | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Tongue in cheek songs like “Drop Out Of College” had the crowd dancing, rethinking their life choices, and wondering if art school really give out business degrees.

“i was told to follow my dreams

i could be anything i wanted to be

now what i want most is to be debt free

so please give me all of your money”

Laser Background took the stage next, playing almost straight through their 2017 release Dark Nuclear Bogs with a few older favorites and unreleased songs. Andy Molholt lead the way, switching from pedal-laden guitar to keyboard/synth and switching cassette tapes when nessecary.

Notable songs like “Mostly Water’ and “Climb the Hill” feel as if they could be on a psychedelic Wes Anderson soundtrack, both nostalgic and current at the same time. Andrew Black on bass, and Ricardo Lagomasino helped bring the albums ‘lo-fi’ psychedelics to the stage.

Laser Background | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Curtis Cooper’s set opened with the band showing their chops on the jazz standard “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.” Cooper on guitar, Jack Zaferes on bass, and Scott Stitzer on drums, all had a chance to shine on this jazz classic, infused with the trio’s punk/rock aesthetic. The song choice, and following set, was proof that the band has done their research on the link between rock & roll, rhythm & blue, and jazz.

This dip into the jazz world made way for some straight ahead rock songs from their newest release Messy. Songs like “Freak Out” and “Philly Jelly” feel like classic rock n roll with a modern twist.  The bluesy “Side,” from their 2016 release Laughing In Line, included an homage to Stevie Wonder’s homage to Duke Ellington, “Sir Duke.”

Curtis also debuted a new song, “Losing my Mind” which talks about trans visibility.

“I made up my mind

Gonna be graceful today

Been feeling confined so

I’m putting myself on display

I’m free to be”

Curtis Cooper | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Before playing “Percs of Life,” Curtis opened up about their 3+ months of sobriety and was met with cheers from the crowd. They ended the set with “White Lies” a song about cocaine, a drug struggling to find it’s place in a safe injection sight city.

“Am I good, Am I bad

Do I make you feel crazy?

Am I power, Am I strength,

The answer is maybe”

Check out an assortment of photos from the entire night in the gallery below

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