Harmony Woods | photo by Sam Kesler for WXPN

Underneath neon lights and in front of a sunset on a Philadelphia skyline, local band Harmony Woods performed for the first of Spruce Street Harbor Park’s 2018 Waterfront Sessions. The air smelled of beer, local food trucks, and the miscellaneous scents of the Delaware River, and as Sofia Verbilla, front-woman for the four-piece band, noted: “I’ve seen so many dogs and babies in the last hour! This is why I do what I do!” An incredibly peaceful and joyous night of amazing music, it was a perfect way to start off the summer-long series, featuring all local Philly bands and free admission.

The Key’s own John Vettese warmed up the crowd for a couple hours with an amazing DJ set featuring tracks from Kississippi, Maggie Rogers, Caroline Rose, Lauryn Hill, Sylvan Esso, Japanese Breakfast, and an infuriatingly smooth transition from Hop Along to Daft Punk. He concluded with the almost-too-on-the-nose track “The Walk” by Oso Oso for Harmony Woods to walk onto.

Harmony Woods began with the opener of their 2017 album Nothing Special, “Vignette # 1” leading into “The Best Things”. Their sound was surprisingly clear for an outdoor venue, the rough rhythm guitar of Sofia Verbilla punctuated by the sharper lead guitar provided by Chance Halter, smooth bass from Hank Byerly, and dynamic drums by David Juro. Sofia’s vocals were stellar as well, standing out among the instrumentation, particularly on their hit single “Renovations,” which rises from hold-your-breath serene to breathtakingly anthemic within three minutes. Their set also featured standout tracks “Jenkintown-Wyncote” and “Negro y Azul” with sparkling guitar riffs perfect to match the outdoor lighting and transportive descriptions of romance.

Between playing tracks off Nothing Special, Harmony Woods found time for a couple not-yet-released tracks, titled “Best Laid Plans” and “Best Laid Plans II,” and covers of Mitski’s “I Don’t Smoke” and Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.,” both vastly ranging in tone, but masterfully executed. They closed on another new track, titled “Ghosts,” and capping off the night wishing everyone a safe trip home.

Check out upcoming Waterfront Sessions featuring local artists like Joshua Howard Music, Ivy Sole, and &More — more information can be found at the Delaware Waterfront website.

Harmony Woods | photo by Sam Kesler for WXPN