First and lasting impressions? XYLOS, Oberhofer, Tapes n’ Tapes = dedication from the bands, to the music, and from the people.

After hours spent on my thesis and a big headache, I decided with nothing better to do on a Saturday night that I’d venture out with my camera and Tri State’s blessing to check out three bands I’d never heard of – XYLOS, Oberhofer, and Tapes n’ Tapes. It started as one of those typical nights at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia: the filing up the narrow staircase to the hall above, the people crowding around the bar and merch stands, and an opening band on stage with only a handful of people watching.

Watch and listen they did, as XYLOS led the opening with their mix of driving electronica, female-lead rock. My first thoughts jumped to some great classic 70s and 80s Heart and Rush, mixed with great electronica, some Shins-esque indie Scandi-pop, and well-placed synths. Throw in a touch of jumpsuits, an awesome throwback the band display on a Lite-Brite, some agogo bells, and killer vocals, and you’ve got XYLOS. They closed with the song ‘Dust’, which encompassed their interwoven four part harmonies, electronic beats, and stunning vocals by front-woman Monika Heidemann.
I had a chance to catch up with XYLOS’ front woman Monika after their set. She attributed influences to electronica, Kate Bush, and the likes. She was quite thrilled to be in Philly, looking forward to coming again, and excited for the release of their new album. If you’ve never seen or heard of XYLOS and are in the Philly area, they’ll be back in just a few weeks. I’m certainly looking forward to their debut record, as should you – coming to us April 5th.

Next up? Tacoma-raised, New York based Oberhofer. I seem to be on a mash-up style this week, so here it goes: take one part, Minus the Bear, one-part Killers, mix in some Vampire Weekend, and some great driving guitar. Led by guitarist/lead singer Brad Oberhofer, I’d recommend these guys for anyone looking for imaginative lyrics, some great guitar skills, and a good time. Oberhofer definitely rocked. They knew what they were doing and were loving it.

I’m sure they’ve heard it before, but I was amazed at their ability and complex music with such a young start. Throw in some [good] crazy (including the guitarists ending up laying on the floor a few times), and a great attitude about music and playing – I talked with the band for a few minutes backstage, and they were quite pumped to be playing shows and doing what they loved, and thankful for the attention and dedication from their growing fan base and music blogs like Tri State Indie. Oberhofer offers a great show, and I’ll be glad to catch them again sometime.

The crowd continued to pack in as the night went by, and I was sad to say people missed a great show from both XYLOS and Oberhofer, but the place was less than standing-room only by the time Tapes n’ Tapes took the stage. I think dedication is the word of the week, for the musicians, the bands, and the fans. Everyone in the place seemed to love the music, the company, and the crowd – I was happy to see both Oberhofer and XYLOS in the crowd for the headliner, rocking out with the fans.

My Tapes n’ Tapes definition? Here it goes: Arctic Monkeys meets Cold War Kids, some of the Kooks, a great use of pseudo-rockabilly twang, more than great vocals, and a true passion for what they do. If you’re not quite sure what I mean, check out Tapes n’ Tapes “Insistor” or “Hang Them All” online.

By this point in the show you would have never guessed it was cold and blustery outside as the crowd and the bands were hot and connected. The crowd continued headbanging, dancing and singing (or screaming) along throughout TnT’s set. Even TnT’s frontman Josh Grier remarked about the night on stage saying that he was happy to have such dedication from fans (five fans in the front row who took a ten-hour trek from Ohio solely to see the show).

Did I mention dedication? During a break, I asked the group, in twenty words or less, why ten hours for Tapes n’ Tapes? Minus some passionate expletives added to TnT’s name decided by the crowd, they responded, “To see Tapes n’ Tapes! Why wouldn’t you? It’s Tapes n’ Tapes!!!” I’d agree.

Beginning the night as a get away from typing page after page, I’m more than happy how it turned out and to be typing this. I’ll be even happier if you give XYLOS, Oberhofer, and Tapes n’ Tapes a listen. They’ve got a few shows together in the coming weeks, and if you’ve got a chance to see them locally – or ten hours away – I’d recommend it.