Cosmic Guilt found their aesthetic match in the altar of First Unitarian Church - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Philly’s Cosmic Guilt released their sophomore record Palace of Depression on May 31st, and to celebrate, they made a rare appearance in the sanctuary at First Unitarian Church. If you’ve ever seen a show at The Church before, you know just how unusual this was; most shows are held in the basement, and stay in the expansive punk genre. But Friday night’s show was appropriately holier, with fans worshipping the cult of Cosmic Guilt.

Cosmic fans know this band’s theatricality is half the fun. The ten members wear matching hand-embroidered jackets (crafted by the Guilt’s own Jillian Bruce-Willis) and lean into emotive stage performance, each player making the most of his or her one tenth of the stage. And with every album, comes new Cosmic lore. Palace of Depression, for example, tells the story of a New Jersey fortress constructed of found objects by a lonely eccentric during the Great Depression. The palace’s rise and fall is Cosmic’s launching pad to spin stories of some of their favorite subjects: metaphysical philosophy, creeping existential thought, and having a rip-roaring good time while we’re here on Earth. In a nutshell, you’d expect nothing less from a band of former theater kids, lifelong musicians, and designers.

Leon III, the show’s opener, is Cosmic’s spiritual sibling. Traveling from Texas, this similarly matching-clad crew has an endearing southern drawl to their psychedelic sound. Leon III’s latest album Something Is Trying to Change My Mind came out last year, featuring a number of songs that could easily replace the theme music to HBO’s True Detective series. Give the band a spin to curate excellent desert festival vibes.

Leon III | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

Staggering their walk-on, Cosmic Guilt arrived next. They proceeded to play Palace front to back like a proper record release show. “Queen of the Dream” and “Yesterday’s In The Astral Plane” stood out as the recognizable singles, while deeper album cuts like “Pentecost” and “Look At The Moon” had their moment to shine. Maybe you’re an XPN listener who remembers those songs performed before the album was released at Cosmic’s December 2023 Free At Noon.

The back half of Cosmic’s set featured fan favorites “Cautious Lovers,” “Greener Leaves,” and “Silver & Lead.” The seated Church, for all its benefits, gave fans little room to dance, but people had no problem bobbing in the pews. And speaking of those benefits, beyond aesthetics, The Church sounded great. A ten-piece like Cosmic could’ve overwhelmed the cavernous venue. But the Guilt is perfectly in control of their massive sound, and they know how to read a room.

Cosmic Guilt | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

Cosmic Guilt | photo by Paige Walter for WXPN

So, what’s next for The Guilt? Songwriter James Everhart recently told Dan Drago on Philly’s longest-running music podcast 25 O’Clock that touring is something he’s really not interested in, unless it’s to someplace beautiful…or close by. Turns out Atlantic City fits the bill. Tickets are available now for WXPN Welcomes Baby’s First Rodeo at AC’s Anchor Rock Club on July 21st. The bill also features Joshua Hedley and Mandy Valentine. More info at the Concerts and Events page.

Cosmic Guilt
  • Doors of Perception
  • Bend The Truth
  • Soil Ceiling
  • Pentecost
  • Yesterday's In The Astral Plane
  • Palace of Depression
  • Queen Of The Dream
  • Magic Spell
  • Look At The Moon
  • Trouble's Hands
  • Gold Miner
  • Cautious Lovers
  • Greener Leaves
  • Blue Heaven
  • Deep Blue Sea (Art Lown cover)
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart (Neil Young cover)
  • Cosmic Guilt
  • Sun In Your Eyes
  • Silver & Lead
  • Bright Lights
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