REVIEW BY: Angelika Gamwell
PHOTOS BY: Erika Cutaia
VIDEOS BY: Mitch Demmler
The Crawlspace is an accurately named venue: a makeshift stage for performances in the basement of a Philly rowhouse. Despite the small capacity it allows, the vibe is overwhelmingly charming. Christmas lights are generously strung across the exposed basement ceiling, the ground floor provides a cozy sitting area with games and posters on the wall to draw on, and there’s a backyard area available for anyone who needs a breath of fresh air. Every person attending the show is friendly, and there’s an air of excited anticipation in the basement before anyone even takes out an instrument.
The setlist for the October 22nd show was pretty hefty, with seven groups performing over the course of the night: SHID, I Hate Homecoming, The Polychromatics, Heatloaf, The Whethermen, Bird Furniture, and Knuckle Deep. All groups showed out strong with their own unique musical styles, so I highly, HIGHLY recommend you check them all out and catch them at another show.
SHID was the opening act, and they did a wonderful job of getting the audience excited for the rest of the night. Starting with an unforgiving droning wall of noise, their sound eventually became clearer and matured into some absolutely feral rock. Every member of the group seemed so into the music; at one point, lead vocalist, Noah, thrashed around so intensely during a song that I was sure they were determined to shake their own brain matter out of their ears. The energy was infectious, and everyone in the crowd was nodding their heads to the performance the whole time. To make it even more impressive? This was SHID’s FIRST actual live show! Definitely keep an eye out for this band as they continue to perform.
Following a few other groups, it was Heatloaf’s turn to play. Heatloaf has been garnering a lot of attention lately, and recently hit 1k followers on Instagram. The self-described “no-boy band” first landed on my radar with their entry into this year’s edition of WHIP’s Rocktober, and I was looking forward to seeing them live for the first time. They definitely did not disappoint with their refined and dreamy indie rock sound.
Heatloaf started with their song “Fireman,” a track that allowed band members Margot and Pax to draw the audience into an otherworldly soundscape with their vocal harmonies. Following this, they continued to perform more original songs from their debut full-length album Sweet Stroke, including “Scary,” “Shoulder to Die On,” and “Only Hard Feelings.” “Only Hard Feelings” stood out as a highlight, with its catchy chorus and clever lyrics that make you do a mental double-take. Margot herself introduced the song by saying, “this is the mean one,” referencing how the lyrics wish a particular person bad luck in hilariously specific ways. While the melodies and vocal performances of Heatloaf’s songs can be dreamy, they never float away as bassist, Beck, and drummer, Raven, consistently keep the band grounded and in time.
The songs Heatloaf chose to perform and the order they performed them in created a perfect balance between high-energy and low-energy moments, resulting in the audience swaying slowly to one song and then briefly moshing (yes, MOSHING) to another just minutes later. There were also heartwarming moments where you could hear shouts of “I LOVE HEATLOAF” from the crowd, and people singing the words to their songs. It was clear during the whole performance that Heatloaf knew what they were doing, powering through minor technical difficulties and checking in with each other throughout the set. I left the Crawlspace that night excited to listen to their album all over again, with the added perspective of how they played those songs live. Heatloaf is going to continue to grow and put on more satisfying performances, so if you enjoy indie rock, listen to their album and try to see them live at their next show!