By Julia Leiby
Last October, Alex G, a 23-year-old wunderkind songwriter from Philadelphia, released Beach Music, his debut album on the prestigious Domino records. The record received numerous accolades from critics, including Pitchfork and SPIN. A little less than a year later, Alex G–short for Alex Giannascoli–and his band opened for a stellar bill at 9:30 Club, playing with Philadelphia indie-rock powerhouse Hop Along and legendary rockers Built to Spill.
Giannascoli played a quick set that was heavy on songs from Beach Music. He creates atmospheric, catchy and otherworldly rock music with his longtime live band that includes John Heywood on bass and Sam Acchione on lead guitar. Highlights of the set were the dark and moody “Bug” and “Walk,” a pretty and meandering instrumental. Giannascoli closed the set with “Soaker,” an unreleased song that he often plays live. Acchione joined him on vocals at the song’s chorus as they hauntingly sang, ‘and all I ever do is soak through you.’
Next up was Hop Along. Led by charismatic singer Frances Quinlan, the band delivered an incredibly energetic and memorable set. Their latest record, Painted Shut, cemented their reputation as one of the best live bands around. Quinlan’s trademark raspy and unmistakable voice is remarkable and like none other.
Some fans in the virtually sold-out crowd were shouting song lyrics and moshing as Quinlan powered through Painted Shut tracks like “Sister Cities,” “The Knock” and “Horseshoe Crabs.” She also delivered a stunning and unexpected cover of top-40 hit “The Hills,” by The Weeknd, an ode to late night secret affairs and excess. They closed the consistently-tight set with “Tibetan Pop Stars,” from Get Disowned.
Built to Spill closed-out the night. A beloved indie rock band that released their first of eight albums in 1993, Built to Spill played a lengthy set of their most well-known songs along with tunes from their most recent album, Untethered Moon. The band played as a three piece, similar to early incarnations of the band, with frontman Doug Martsch playing complicated guitar riffs and using a looping pedal.
Although Martsch’s performance was stellar, the bassist and drummer were detached and a little stiff onstage. Despite this, Martsch was enough to provide an amazing experience for the audience. They played for over an hour, closing with the classic “Carry the Zero” and sneaking in a cover of “Effigy” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Overall, this was an incredible, talented bill of musicians and a show not to be missed.