BAILEN on LP 2, Playing Live, and Their Love of Philly (2/10 at WCL)

NYC indie-pop sibling trio BAILEN have deservedly been darlings of WXPN for a number of years now…  Just last year they played NON-COMM for the second time, their second...

NYC indie-pop sibling trio BAILEN have deservedly been darlings of WXPN for a number of years now…  Just last year they played NON-COMM for the second time, their second Free At Noon, and a set at XPoNential Music Festival that proved to be a highlight of the exceptionally rainy weekend, in addition to an XPN-presented headlining show at Johnny Brenda’s.  And next Saturday, February 10th, they’ll be returning to WXPN’s headquarters to play a headlining show at the Music Hall at World Café Live.

On May 5th of last year, BAILEN closed out NON-COMM 2023 with a Free At Noon on the very day that their sophomore LP, Tired Hearts, dropped on Fantasy Records (home to Avi Kaplan, Grace Potter, and Allison Russell), who also released their stunning 2019 folk-rock debut, Thrilled To Be Here.  “That was such a fun show!  I love playing the convention,” lead vocalist and guitarist Julia Bailen tells me, before going on to assert, “We love XPN.  They’ve always been so supportive, from the very beginning.” (Watch the full set here.)

Julia, [vocalist/bassist] Daniel, and [vocalist/drummer] David Bailen have basically been on the road ever since.  During a recent chat with all three siblings, I ask how these dates have gone, and they tell me there have been a ton of highlights, including touring Europe (“We had a sold-out show in London!  That was amazing!”), playing Austin City Limits (Julia admits that the highlight of the experience might have actually been getting to see Alanis Morissette.), and playing XPoNential in Camden on a September Saturday whose on-and-off downpour wreaked havoc on, but never dampened the excitement of, the XPN devotees (Julia tells me it’s the most impressed she’s ever been by a crowd!)

Tired Hearts was co-produced (with the band) by Brad Cook, who’s worked with a plethora of PHILTHY phriends and phavorites, including Waxahatchee, Plains, Madi Diaz, Snail Mail, Indigo De Souza, Mipso, and many others.  Cook had the band — who had extensively road-tested all of the material of their debut — experimenting in the studio more so than ever before (“We made those songs in the studio mostly, and didn’t get to play them live, because of COVID.”)  The finished product sees the band exploring slightly new territory, including an abundance of synth-driven numbers.

This coming Tuesday, February 6th, Fantasy Records will be releasing Tired Hearts Deluxe Edition, which features six bonus tracks, including re-imaginings, live performances, and a brand-new track (“You Would Never Know”).  The most recent single off of Tired Hearts Deluxe Edition is a rerecording of album track “These Bones” with Amos Lee… who the band tells me they originally met at an early show at World Café Live: “We played the World Café Live Upstairs and like 20 people showed up, but Amos Lee was one of them…”  Lee quickly befriended the trio and took them on tour shortly after.

Live audiences aren’t the only ones providing reactions to Tired Hearts that the band have been enjoying.  Julia tells me, “I saw an end-of-the-year recap that was like a word association game, and it included ‘blow-up pool’ and ‘cosmic lullabies’…  I just love ‘cosmic lullabies!’”  They also recently came across one particularly dedicated admirer: “We met one fan who had a sleeve, and he had a tattoo for every song on the first record, and he had just started the second one…  He might have to start getting creative after our fourth record [laughs].”  They tell me this has earned him, “guest list for life.”

BAILEN’s February 10th stop at World Café Live is the third stop on their upcoming headlining tour, which kicks off February 8th in Brooklyn.  And they tell me that the Music Hall is one of numerous dates that they’re especially excited about, which also includes The Troubadour, Murmrr (“This weird theatre in Brooklyn.  I’ve never been there before, but it should be good.”), and Meow Wolf (“I think that we’re playing this weird venue in Santa Fe, which is kind of legendary…)

The band are quite anxious about their show scheduled at Fox Cabaret in Vancouver, a city that they’ve apparently tried to play many times: “We’re all questioning if we’re gonna make it to Vancouver.  We’ve had four concerts there, and we’ve made zero of them…” (Reasons behind cancellations?   Stuck in snow, had to cancel because they got the Hozier tour, pandemic, and an unannounced show that was scheduled, but scrapped when the group realized that they would unlikely be able to make it from their previous gig.)  However, Julia is optimistic about this one: “I think it’s gonna happen!”

Theatres, nightclubs, listening rooms, barrooms, and festivals are all fairly regular stops for BAILEN, but they tell me that the setting itself rarely ever impacts their performances: “We always bring it 100%…  When the curtain comes up, we’re pretty consistent, although behind the scenes we’re a total mess [laughs].”  However, Julia admits that there are occasionally exceptions: “The only way it changes is if we do off-mic songs…  Sometimes the venue has a nasty AC that just won’t turn off!”  But they do tell me that the audience themselves definitely play a role in the vibe of the evening: “The biggest thing that determines the energy is the crowd…  It depends on the air in the room.”

When I ask the band what can be expected of their February 10th show at World Café Live, they suggest it’s not something that should be missed: “The greatest time you’ll ever have in your entire life…  Bring a second pair of underwear! [laughs]”  They also tell me that fans that come out on this run will likely see a more diverse and varied set than they may have seen from BAILEN in the past.  “We’ve kind of got a lot of songs at this point.  It’s fun that we can pick and choose…  The live show is pretty different from the record, and it’s been exciting to see how these songs have changed in their live setting,” says Julia, before Daniel adds, “It includes everything from a three-part harmony with no amplification to Julia raging on a guitar solo, or David raging on a drum solo.”

*Get your tickets here.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.