On tour supporting We Have Cause to Be Uneasy, Birmingham’s Wild Sweet Orange passed through Philly and played a show at the First Unitarian Church. It was the first truly cold evening of the season here in Philadelphia, and there was no way getting around having to wear a heavy coat to make the trek from my West Philly Apartment downtown to catch the show. Winter reared its frigid head and the shifting of the seasons was punctuated by the smell of vomit. Outside the First Unitarian Church on the sidewalk and on the steps down to the basement venue were thousands of Gingko berries. Recently shed and mid-decomposition, the berries emit a powerfully pungent odor of vomit, impossible to ignore. The conspicuous scent provided for most of the pre-show chatter inside the toasty church.
Opening for WSO was Kaiser Cartel, a New York based indie-folk boyfriend/girlfriend duo. Kaiser Cartel’s warm melodic folk is easy on the ears and could easily be at home on the soundtrack of a Wes Anderson movie. The sweet and pleasant ping of the xylophone was prominent throughout their set, lending a playful naiveté to their sound. Before they finished, they performed an “unplugged” wandering serenade throughout the audience. It was kind of cool…..and strangely uncomfortable.
Next, WSO saddled up and took the stage. At the core of Wild Sweet Orange is singer/songwriter Peter Lovinggood. Lovinggood writes confessional ballads of romanticized suburban malaise. Their musical arrangements were ambitious, thoroughly thought out, and heavily nuanced. Listeners with short attention spans may not appreciate WSO because their songs develop gradually and require patience as their music ebbs and flows toward the main idea.
WSO is a very prominent new band who seems to have firm grasp on who they are and what they want to be. As long as they continue to progress and chase the sound they have worked towards, they will be around for quite a while.