Pi Lam’s Human BBQ XXXV went off without a hitch this Saturday, as 18 bands rocked the Spruce Street house from noon ‘til midnight. Hundreds turned out to catch the stacked line-up, eat burgers, and dance their faces off, and nearly all left satiated and content. Or as they say at Pilam—BBQ’ed.
I arrived around 2 p.m. to catch poppy up-and-comers Cold Fronts, whose feel-good party rockers enlivened the early crowd. Next up on the main stage: Brooklyn longhairs Plates of Cakes, whose strum-y guitar jams felt folksy and earnest—and fellow Brooklynites Radical Dads, whose spastic, punky vibes may not be child-friendly, but certainly had show-goers dancing.
The late afternoon saw sets from Philly’s DRGN King, riling the basement with blues-y charmers, front man Dominic Angelella wailing and flailing with glee. Next up: zany psych masters Laser Background, whose capricious melodies and spacey vibes reminded me of a kazoo-tinged Sgt. Pepper’s. Ghost Light took the basement stage next, offering warm, boy-girl harmonies and clappy percussion (courtesy of a raucous, shirtless drummer); they were followed, upstairs, by “mathcore” fivesome For Sleeping or Jumping, whose super-charged set definitely tended towards the latter. Jersey’s Slow Animal closed out the afternoon, filling the basement with jangly, lo-fi, fuzz pop.
I returned for the evening (after a quick stop at Allegro’s Pizza) to spazz out to Philly noise-rockers Banned Books, whose clash-y blend of bloopy beats with rock guitar and drums transformed the basement into a schizophrenic thrash-fest. Brooklyn’s Total Slacker followed upstairs, living up to their name with understated slacker pop, full of lush, shoegaze vocals.
Norwegian Arms took the stage around 10 to a packed house, channeling Vampire Weekend with their unique brand of weirdo-Afro-folk-pop, made sunnier and clappier thanks to front man Brandon Mulvihill’s impassioned vocals and mandolin-playing, and the dual drumming skills of Eric Slick and Michael Trillions. The excited crowd danced with glee, and the band responded with even more energy, and a surprise cover of Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin About You,” that proved that yes, it is possible to wail in falsetto. It seemed unfair for any band that had to follow, but NJ fivesome (and signees to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label) Delicate Steve held their own, closing out the fest with slick, late-night, indietronic dance jamz. The crowd formed a semi-circle around guitarists Steve Marion and Christian Peslak, pulsing and cheering as they jammed out on guitars and effects pedals. All in all, a successful BBQ!