The Fillmore Philadelphia’s venue-within-a-venue, The Foundry, was eerily quiet as visitors strolled up to the entrance for Sirius XM’s Advanced Placement Tour. It was an odd night off for the main Fillmore stage, but not an altogether unwelcome experience, as the venue is usually packed to the gills with eager attendees. This night, in contrast, was a moment for The Foundry to take center stage and truly shine.
The event itself boasted performances from three rising acts, BANNERS, The Moth and the Flame and POP ETC. The small setting was perfectly conducive to a low-key weekday concert. This is quite possibly a concert-goers ideal location, given its small stage and low capacity limits. When you add to that the ample seating, in the form of a slew of couches and booths, The Foundry is a more-relaxed setting than your typical Philly concert. The vibe was much like watching a band perform in your living room. Well, if your living room had a large bar in the center. And if your living room just happened to be nestled in Fishtown’s hottest new music venue.
But enough about the venue, let’s talk about the music. First up was rising sensation, BANNERS, who found his way onto everyone’s must-see list this year at SXSW. With only a single EP to his name, released this January, BANNERS is poised to be a breakout star this year. He closed out his short set with two of his more well-known songs, singles “Start a Riot,” and “Shine a Light.” But it was somewhat of a surprise to see him opening the night, as most of the advertisements for the tour had made him out to be the show’s headlining act.
But a quick chat with BANNERS, aka Michael Joseph Nelson, uncovered the fact that as the bands continue along on their tour, the lineup is always subject to change. The three bands prefer to think of the setup as a co-headlining bill and thus choose to share the stage. So each night, one of them takes the third slot, and effectively acts as “headliner” for the evening. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to announce this shake-up to their audiences beforehand, so the best advice would be to arrive early in order to catch each set in its entirety.
All in all, BANNERS performed exactly as fans of his material would have expected. His vocals truly shine throughout his set. And if the music from his debut EP is an indication of what’s to come, BANNERS is set for a big 2016.
The second set of the night was Los Angeles’ The Moth and the Flame. They drew a large crowd who seemed well-versed in all of their music. The highlight of their performance though may have been catching BANNERS (and band) giddily dancing and singing along in the audience. The Moth and the Flame will be back again this June to play night 2 of the Radio 104.5 Birthday Show.
Rounding out the night’s performances was POP ETC, formerly known as The Morning Benders. The band was recently in town opening for Oh Wonder. But their show at The Foundry proved why these guys have the chops to fill that headlining slot themselves. It’s easy to forget that POP ETC were ever The Morning Benders, as the new name also came with a new sound altogether. But they did slip one of the stand-out Morning Benders’ tracks, “Excuses,” into their set, which was certainly a welcome surprise.
Despite playing host to three bands, the night ended rather early. Fans in attendance could have easily stayed for another hour or so to hear new music from these bands, but alas they’ll have to wait to catch them until they inevitably return to Philadelphia in the coming year. Next time, each of these acts will likely be playing a much larger stage and everyone who attended Sirius XM’s Advanced Placement Tour will be saying “I remember them when…”
(Photo Credit: Jackie VanZelst)