Have some fun getting to know Spirits Having Fun, Tonight at Johnny Brenda’s

Sadly, we’ve come to that time of year when the touring season has basically ended. However, we do have a few amazing, huge, shows in the near future, including...

Sadly, we’ve come to that time of year when the touring season has basically ended. However, we do have a few amazing, huge, shows in the near future, including Belle & Sebastian at Union Transfer later this week and The Psychedelic Furs and JAMES at Franklin Music Hall next week, but tonight Johnny Brenda’s will be hosting one of our favorite new acts, with whom you might not yet be super duper familiar, Spirits Having Fun.  The Chicago/New York quartet have actually only been playing together since December of 2016.   Their sound could perhaps best (and possibly only) be characterized as avant-garde pop, indebted to the band members’ crazy amalgam of musical backgrounds, including Afro-Cuban jazz, punk, ska, folk, synthpop, and, in a recent chat, disco and power ballads were even mentioned…

The show tonight at Johnny Brenda’s – which also features Likes, JOBS, and Spin Off – is being put on by Philly-based record label Ramp Local, who also put out the band’s recently released Auto-Portrait LP (Which was recorded in one day!)  Last weekend I got a chance to chat with the band – Andrew Clinkman (gtr/vox), Katie McShane gtr/vox), Jesse Heasly (bass), and Phil Sudderberg (drms) – from the road, and when I ask about the highlights of the band’s relatively brief career, Katie tells me, “A highlight has been releasing the album with Ramp Local and just having that experience of working with a label and having it all turn out to be such a great experience.”  Jesse adds, “I think The Chicago Tribune knows about us [laughs], so just to see ourselves in print is kind of cool.  But really, we recorded the record almost two years ago, so to have it finally be out and just the process of completing that and be moving on to the next record is really a highlight.”  They also add, “This cool thing happened in Buffalo where someone said that Katie and Andrew both sound exactly like Robert Fripp, but completely different eras of Robert Fripp [laughs].  I mean, we’re not really fans of King Crimson, but things like that are always funny to me.”

In terms of the actual influences behind Spirits Having Fun, they tell me, “Musically, The Shags were always important and Beefheart was always important, just these people who were coloring outside and lines and encouraging you to free yourself from constraints.”  But they also tell me that they take a lot of inspiration from performing their music live and watching it evolve on a nightly basis.  When I ask what can be expected of the show tonight, they tell me, “It’ll be a lotta fun.  We try to bring the energy and freedom and try to have it not sound the same every night.  There’ll be jumping around onstage and a little bit of antics…”

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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.