Sons & Daughters @ Johnny Brenda’s

Sons & Daughters | Johnny Brenda’s (Philadelphia, PA) | March 23, 2008 |

This Easter, the annual zombie bar crawl was far from the most exciting thing going on in Philadelphia. That title belonged to Sons & Daughters, the Scottish quartet who have spent the past five years proving to the music world that the hot-chicks-and-big-riffs equation can actually be hip. Although they’ve visited the city of brotherly love with media darlings Franz Ferdinand at the historic Tower Theater, for their headlining debut the band found themselves at Philly’s newfound hipster Mecca, Johnny Brenda’s, a place far more suitable for a band whose inspirations draw from girl groups and The Smiths.

While the group’s past releases have encased many different sounds, from gritty blues to pub rock, their latest and loudest album, This Gift, is much more focused and has the band sounding alarmingly similar to latter-era Sleater-Kinney. Not surprisingly, this newfound level of brassiness made for one of the best Rock N Roll dance parties in the city of sisters affection this year. The majority of their March 23rd set relied on this latest release, including the first single, “Gilt Complex,” along with “The Nest,” “Rebel With the Ghost,” and “Goodbye Service,” (any of which could be mistaken for outtakes from One Beat or The Woods). Highlighting the night, however, were tracks from the band’s second album, The Repulsion Box: “Red Receiver” and “Dance Me In” had front-woman Adele Bethel brilliantly losing it more than any other numbers and “Rama Lama” showcased guitarist Scott Paterson’s vocals for one of the only periods in the evening.

In a time when a band’s scene credibility could be measured by the number of people onstage and amount of failed attempts to challenge rock conventions (i.e. the 19-piece snooze-fest known as Broken Social Scene), Sons & Daughters have managed to sneak themselves onto the indie radar with one of the tightest and most rockin’ lineups of recent years. Rhythm section, David Gow and Ailidh Lennon provide the danceable musical riot that is the band. Although for the live show these two rarely enter focus, not because they’re lacking in image, but because the two truly are too cool to vie for the attention of a bunch of kids in thrift-store scarves and Chuck Taylors. The other half of the band is not so subtle in their display of coolness. Paterson (who, when given a chance to sing, is reminiscent of Shane MacGowan, if he were forced to front The Sounds) is a classically cool, but-not-too-cool-to-strike-a-rock-star-move, guitarist, and Bethel is the perfect combination of snotty punk princess and glittered glam vixen — she’s like Karen O with class. With every modern female fronting a band drawing comparisons to Deborah Harry (Maja Ivarsson, Chantal Claret, Kate Jackson, etc.), Bethel’s the real deal: she’s way out of your league, she could probably kick your ass, and she can navigate a stage like nobody’s business, yet you probably don’t have to worry about her dousing herself in Bud Light or stumbling onto anyone in the front row. Sons & Daughters proved to be as rock as Mick and Keith, while as hip as Kim and Thurston. It’s a bit of a wonder how a band so prototypically Rock N Roll is making it with the scener-than-thou crowd, but unfortunately John Peel is no longer here to explain it to us.

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