Dominy at Sunflower Philly | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Scenes from opening night of Sunflower Philly’s concert series with Dominy
“So this is our first show in a year and a half,” John Dominy told the crowd at Sunflower Philly last night. “But I guess everyone’s in that situation.”
It’s true: as spring weather warms up Philly and the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel gets closer, the music scene is more eager than ever for the return of regular gigs. Last night kicked off a weekly series of outdoor concerts at Sunflower, the community art space and beer garden just across 5th Street from Kensington brew pub Human Robot. Curated by Philly promoter Marley McNamara, the evening shows will happen on Thursdays and Fridays through July, and the lineup currently features sets by Birdie Busch, Ron Gallo, and Pat Finnerty’s Tom Petty Appreciation Band.
The limited capacity gig sold out well in advance, and the scene inside was bright and lively. Groups of friends caught up in a clustered row of high-tops along the west wall, others kept to themselves in tighter-knit circles on picnic tables or adirondack chairs. Masks were required for entry, and though many members of the crowd quicky removed them once they settled into their pods, the sloping park — decorated with strings of lights, mural-covered walls, and a parade of flags from around the world — is spacious enough that it’s easy to keep your social distance.
Dominy, despite their initial nerves at playing a show again, sounded great, from the lead licks of guitarist Michael Youngkin to soaring vocal harmonies by Turquoise Cobb. We last caught the band at a Rolling Stones tribute upstairs at World Cafe Live in the before times, and they brought back their “Sweet Virginia” cover into last night’s setlist, along with a faithful take on Neil Young’s dreamy “Harvest Moon” and their own rootsy classic rock-inspired originals, punctuated by “Leather Jacket Song” — one of the last songs I heard before departing to hustle back to WXPN HQ for my airshift.
Check out a gallery of photos from the gig below. Singer-songwriter Birdie Busch is next up at Sunflower on Friday, April 23rd — more info here — and you can find out more about the space in this interview by The Philadelphia Citizen from last summer.