So hopefully my (and Philthy’s) loyal readers have familiarized themselves with my new weekly column, “Do It for the Kids,” which outlines the city’s best all ages shows for the coming week. In lieu of my traditional format, considering that there is really only one worthwhile all ages show in town next week but it is very possibly going to be the gig of the fall, I have decided to write an extended piece focusing on that one, hoping-wishing-assuming-to-be brilliant night.
The Sounds are unquestionably one of the ten best live acts of the past decade. Although Neo Synth-Pop has been out of the limelight for a while now, it’s impossible to argue that their raucous punk posturing and electronic bombast don’t still make for as satisfying a night of live entertainment as is still legally sanctioned. The best Thanksgiving of my life was spent with this band of Swedes at the North Star Bar [Sorry, Dad (Mom totally understands)]. Maja Ivarsson, Felix Rodriguez, Jesper Anderberg, Johan Bengtsson, and Fredrik Blond have had half a dozen legendary performances in Philthy since I moved here in 2003. Yet, it’s been more than two years since they’ve satisfied the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection in-person. However, on November 1st they will find themselves at the city’s latest hot-spot, Union Transfer, for a gig more worth attending than pretty much any other this year.
I recently chatted with Felix Rodriguez (the band’s co-primary songwriter, alongside Jesper Anderberg), before the band’s recent Minnesota performance, about their latest album, Something to Die For (which dropped this March), the bands their currently trekking across the states alongside, and their take on our humble city.
“We always have a good time in Philadelphia.” “I really like Philadelphia,” Rodriguez tells me, proclaiming his affection for South Street (The band has played two momentous shows at the TLA.). He reflects on “all of the cool art shops” and “buying [local] art and shipping it back to Sweden.” Unfortunately for them, Union Transfer finds itself in the “nightclub” district but, if they arrive in the city early enough, they’ll have plenty of time to spend in the more “artistic” areas of the city.
The band’s latest album, while embracing their long-standing Synth-Pop sound, trades in a lot of their Punk rock aesthetic for a sound more indebted to ‘90s European electronic sounds, including House. “For this album we were inspired by our youth and going to rave parties in Sweden and Denmark and hanging out in abandoned buildings at illegal raves” Rodriguez tells me: “I [still] go out pretty often to clubs. You always hear something [that inspires you].” “We never sat down and said what we were gonna do… But the new album is a bit of the reaction to the last album [Crossing the Rubicon], which is a lot of guitar and bass.” However, he reassures me that they haven’t moved on from their back catalogue completely: “We still play songs from each album and all of the songs we choose to play now, fit into the set.”
The band is currently touring with Natalia Kills, The Limousines, and Kids at the Bar, a lineup Rodriguez seems quite proud of: “It’s a party vibe from the beginning to the end.” While the lineup will likely make for a lovely evening, The Sounds will surely prove to be the stars. Felix sounds quite honored to hear that I consider them to be one of the 10 best live acts of the past decade. However, he doesn’t seem to spend a lot of time thinking about how the band performs: “I don’t think we over-think what we do live. We’re pretty basic, I think, when it comes to shows”… something you would not think after seeing their eruption of synthetic soul play out like a postmodernly primal riot.