Including Interview with Tweed
Photography: Steven Philips StSteven.com | Words: Kathleen Orlando
District N9NE offered the perfect Saturday night with a lineup of three great bands. Headlined by the versatile Dopapod, and opened by energizing performances by Tweed and the Main Squeeze, each band brought their A game and it made for a wickedly fantastic show.
Philly-based jamtronica band Tweed took the stage promptly at 8:30. Drummer Joe Vela and bassist Dan McDonald kept precision timing while Jon Tomczak’s (the one with the hair) funky synth filled all the spaces in between. This gave their psychedelic sound a tight, concise feeling. Especially fun was their creative cover of the well-known Inspector Gadget theme song, slowed down and spun out in a way that made it even catchier than the original tune. Tweed followed up their show at D9 with a wild after party around the corner at Voltage Lounge, stepping up to the plate when the scheduled band Cocktail Party had to cancel (they did get some play time in, though). Tweed kept their intense energy going all night long, not afraid in the least to mix with the crowd (AJ DiBiase even going so far as to order a drink mid-song). They ended the evening (at this point, early morning) with a cover of Ween’s “Bananas and Blow.” Saturday night was the conclusion of their most recent tour, although they are playing the North Star Bar with SOLARiS and Face Plant on December 19th.
The Main Squeeze is a funk band with strong vocals that hails from Bloomington, Indiana, . The guitar and percussion actually reminded me of Audioslave and Soundgarden, which threw a neat twist to their set, but songs like Dr. Funk brought sounds from decades earlier. To contrast, songs like “Where do We Go?“ bring out a different side, one that bounces around in upbeat indie rock territory. The Main Squeeze has a solid resume under their belt, playing at numerous festivals and being handpicked by Rolling Stone for the Superbowl XLVI tailgate party. Dopapod’s Rob Compa joined Squeeze for a slowed-down funked out cover of Pink Floyd’s “Have a Cigar.” The Main Squeeze is touring straight through the Thanksgiving holiday, concluding on December at the Lincoln Hall in Chiciago. If you want a band that’s a little bit of everything, I recommend getting squozen.
Saturday night was the release party for Dopapod’s newest album, Never Odd or Even. The Boston-born band totes this as their best album, the product of hours of effort, boundless drive, and great communication and connectivity with every person involved. Dopapod was on point, opening with a solid cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” presumably a tribute to having to cancel their show the night before due to a PA catching fire. Every one of their songs pulled across genres and influences, yet maintained their distinctly twangy, trippy, cohesive core sound. As always, their light display was off the charts. In addition to spot on production work by Luke Stratton, many people brought glowing hoops, gloves, and poi. Their personal light shows added additional illumination to the crowd.
Three distinct and independently strong bands created a complementary and vibrant show that I had the great pleasure of experiencing. Any of these bands alone are great; together they were a treat. When they come back through, I’ll see you there.
Philly Funk Hustle
I interviewed Tweed after the show, and discussion of their show at D9, their holiday plans, and what’s up next on their journey follows:
1. D9 was the last leg of your fall tour. What were your favorite highlights froml that? Anything that really stood out?
Dan McDonald: The vibe was amazing at District N9NE. Great staff, coupled with a cool spot in a prime location made this already momentous occasion an even more exhilarating night for me. The sound engineers and gear at D9 was one of my top five stage experiences. Dopapod also sets up across the stage like us so we were able to have a comfortable set up on the stage.
AJ DiBiase: It was incredible to finish out this stretch with a bang, share the bill with two amazing bands, have so many friends come out to support us, and keep people goin’ until sunrise at the after party. So many highlights from the fall… Our hometown Halloween show was a blast this year. We love to play in costume and its even better playing for a room full of other people all dressed up. We played some new covers for the occasion and it was a lot of fun to put our spin on these songs and to blend them with our original material. We play with the intention of performing at the highest level every time we take the stage and plan to make every show stand out. The real highlight is being able to capture an audience with our music – to gain fans and make new friends whenever we play. As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we’d just like to say we’re so grateful for the incredible amount of support we’ve received in the past year. We feel lucky to have met so many amazing people and to create a sense of family between us. We’re forever appreciative of those who love these crazy sounds that we create.
Joe Vela: Looking at what we billed as the “Fall Tour,” we really had a blast at Pink Moon Festival in West Virginia. We played a sunset slot on Sunday night and had an awesome crowd. I’m making sure we get back there next summer, too. The show with Pink Talking Fish last month was also an amazing hometown thrown down. North Star Bar was packed like sardines and we got to stretch out some jams and everyone was really feeling us.
2. Aside from stuffing your face this Thursday, what are your plans for the near future? Anything cool planned for NYE?
JV: I cannot wait to head home for the holiday and spend some time with family. I’m not coming back until Dec. 7 because I’m headed straight to Dominican Holidaze! We’re taking a little bit of a winter break to finish up some studio recordings since we have been going so hard all year with shows, but we have a really cool co-headline gig at North Star Bar on Dec. 19. Unfortunately we decided not to make a Delaware show happen for NYE and nothing else really exciting has come across our plate, so we’re all gonna be partying. I think I’ll hit the Biscuits at Best Buy a couple of nights.
DM: For NYE, I was thinking Papadosio with ELM at Rams Head. There are still so many show I haven’t thought of yet or looked into, so my schedule is wide open. I have some gigs with my funk band Conjunction Funktion down at the Delaware beaches and Tweed is looking forward to a night with just AJ, Jon, and myself trying out some new ideas at Home Grown on Dec. 3rd–the day after I finish my degree!
AD: This winter we’ll be lighter on shows and shifting our focus to writing and recording. We’re very excited to explore new ideas we’ve been working on and to develop our sound further. We plan to hit the spring with a new arsenal of material.
3. Do you have a favorite venue in Philly?
DM: Favorite venue in Philly is the Mann Center, but now it will be District N9NE as a result of our great experience.
JV: If we’re talking old favorites, my heart goes out to The Blockley for sure. I didn’t think of Mann Center, but that place has amazing vibes and I love the view of the city from there. I recently hung out at One Art after a show there, I would love to play there when it gets warmer, that place is so funky and cool too. District N9NE is actually awesome as well, I wish they would do more shows there. The Trocadero might be my favorite mid-size venue in Philly right now though…if they would let me take a drink on the dance floor.
4. Throw me anything you want people to know
JV: As long as you keep dancing, we’ll keep playing. We are all about perpetuating energy and positivity (even when our jams get dark). We put so much energy into the music because we love making people happy and when you can make so many people smile, and move, and feel, you have no choice but to keep momentum going. Personally, I think we have a little momentum right now–it’s exciting, and I can’t help but keep pushing and stretching each tour further and further. Come check us out Dec. 19 in Philly and get weird with us!
5. Oh! I almost forgot: why do you guys call yourselves Tweed?
JV: I wish we had a better answer for this, but it came from a college roommate of ours who just thought it was a cool word. It rolls off the tongue, right? It has grown to mean a lot though. Like a fabric, Tweed’s music is a deep interwoven texture with many layers and patterns. We like to fool around and give T.W.E.E.D. different acronyms too. One that we joke around is Time Wizards Eating Electric Donuts. I would really love to see if anyone can top that.
Many thanks to the members of Tweed for taking the time to answer my questions, and for playing a great show! I expect to see these guys around, and I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what they’re up to next.