Strand of Oaks | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

It’s the year 2019 and Tim Showalter is more than a decade into his career as Strand of Oaks. For many modern rock musicians, this is about the time when the creative spark can start to fade. But Showalter’s still just getting started. The Philly-by-way-of-Goshen, Indiana songwriter is known for his emotional, introspective music, but his latest album, Eraserland, just might be his most reflective yet. His latest work touches on themes of depression, love and the perseverance of making it through difficult situations and does so in a no-bullshit kind of way.

Showalter came onstage at Union Transfer Friday night just after 9:30 p.m., stepping through a screen of dry ice and decked out in an enigmatic black jacket and fedora. He and his band opened the show with “Weird Ways,” the same song that kicks off Eraserland. The song, along with the subsequent “Final Fires” was a way for SoA to ease the crowd into a higher energy slew of songs to come, including “Goshen ’97,” “Ruby” and “Plymouth,” the latter of which comes off Showalter’s breakthrough 2015 album, HEAL.

The onstage presence of Strand of Oaks, as usual, matched the energy of the music. Showalter’s crooning voice and heartfelt lyrics resonated with the crowd during the slow songs and got things jumping in the upbeat stuff. As great as the new album is, the night’s highlights mostly consisted of the band’s earlier classics, including “Rest of it,” “Shut In” and especially “JM,” which featured a psychedelic mid-song jam that captivated and transfixed the audience.

During the show, Showalter reminisced about first moving to the area thanked the city of Philadelphia for welcoming him with open arms. “I’ll never forget,” he said to the cheering crowd. But it’s Strand of Oaks who played a pivotal role in making Philadelphia the Indie Rock Capital of the World it is today, so it’s really us that should be thanking Showalter.

So, thanks Tim. And if you’re reading this, we’re already looking forward to next tour’s Philly show. See ya there.

Weird Ways
Final Fires
Goshen ’97
Hyperspace Blues
Wild and Willing
On the Hill
Shut In
Rest of It

Forever Chords