Dorothy – Spirit Animal – The Direct Truth – Theater of the Living Arts, Philadelphia, PA – 2/16/19
Review and Pictures: Tara Lakatos
Dorothy’s, Freedom Tour lit Philadelphia on fire. She and her band played the Theater of the Living Arts on February 16th to a sold out crowd. Dorothy brought with her The Damn Truth and Spirit Animal. This night was filled with bluesy rock and roll and a little bit of funk.
The Damn Truth
Montreal based The Damn Truth opened up the night. I had not heard of them before I saw the billing for this show but after about 2 measures of music I wondered what rock I had been living under. The Damn Truth is comprised of Lee-la Baum (lead vocals, guitar), Tom Shemer (guitar), PY Letellier (bass) and Dave Traina (drums). They have 2 albums out currently, “Dear in the Headlights” from 2012 and “Devilish Folk” from 2016.
Lee-la is an incredible force, her voice is smoky and bluesy, her guitar playing is filled with passion and her stage presence demands that you pay attention. Tom is a killer blues player with a ton of charisma. He spent some time playing while standing on Dave’s bass drum, and if he was trying to steal the show he did.
PY’s soul was definitely taken over this night by some demons. He played each note like he was channeling every bass player that had ever been on Beale St. Last but not least the man in the saddle, Dave. He was laid back, stayed in the pocket and kept his groove on.
I cannot stress how good this band is and how tight their musicianship was. If you are unfamiliar with them please check out their songs; “Pirates and Politicians”, “White Lies”, “Broken Blues” and “You Wouldn’t be Lying”. They were all fantastic.
Direct support came from Brooklyn’s, Spirit Animal. They released their first album in 2010, “The Cost of Living” with three EPs following. In 2018 they released “Born Yesterday”, which is their major label debut on Atlantic Records. Spirit Animal is comprised of Steve Cooper (vocals), Cal Stamp (guitar), Paul Michel (bass) and Ronen Evron (drums).
Spirit Animal has an eclectic sound. “The Truth” for example was a mix of funk based guitar and Rage Against the Machine bass lines. While these things feel like they should be conflicting the song worked. Steve danced across the stage while singing in and out of falsetto, this song was super catchy. “Karma” was a little bit slower and more of an anthem. “Regular World” had a bit more of a reggae feel to it, as bassist, Paul, spent most of the song bouncing around…he was really fun to watch.
One of my favorite songs of the set was “Survival”. Cal and Ronen played off each other for this one trading funk guitar licks for funk drum beats. I felt like I was on a desert island from the lyrics, all I needed was an umbrella in my drink and sand in my shoes.
Spirit Animal has been around for a minute but I feel like their time has come and they are breaking out into something big. I can’t say enough about how fun their set was. The songs were all infectious and the band had the entire crowd dancing the night away. Check these guys out and imagine you’re on a beach somewhere, I guarantee it will wash the winter blues away.
Dorothy: that is all you need to know. She is a phenomenal force from California. She’s got a heart of rock and roll and blues in her soul. Her voice has filled a void in our generation that cannot be matched. I first heard her a few years back on Sirius XM’s Octane channel when they played “Raise Hell” off of her debut album “Rock is Dead”. I loved the song but wasn’t crazy about the electronics on her vocals. Shortly after I had discovered her it was announced that she was opening for Halestorm. I bought a bunch of tickets for this tour and saw Dorothy for the first time in Hampton Beach, NH in April of 2016. As I had mentioned I wasn’t sold on her vocals on the record due the electronics and distortion. Well, she had me fooled. I didn’t walk into that show with any expectations and left blown away. I saw her 14 times that year literally across the country on that tour package. Her vocals are the best in blues-based rock out there. Her live shows are incredible and her newest album “28 Days in the Valley”, produced by Linda Perry, let her real voice shine through.
For this tour, Dorothy, is backed by some amazing musicians including Philadelphia’s own, Nick Perri, on guitar. I saw him shred a few months ago with his band The Underground Thieves, his skills are insane. She also has with her Eli Wulfmeier (guitar), Eliot Lorango (bass) and Jason Ganberg (drums).
Dorothy opened the night with “Naked Eye”, from the “Served Like a Girl” soundtrack. This song set the mood for the night, making you feel like you were in some back alley speakeasy. A little blues, a little country feel in the chorus and a bit of funk from the guitar. Next up was “Raise Hell”. This song had the whole audience rocking out and singing along. There’s no way you can’t blast the lyrics back to the stage on this one. A few songs later she hit “Pretty When Your High”. This is a love song, about going after the free spirited bad boy. If you listen to this song with your eyes closed she takes you right through a movie scene. She can definitely paint a picture with her lyrics.
Dorothy wound things down with all newer tracks, “Flawless”, “Down to the Bottom” and “Freedom”. “Flawless” is my favorite track on the album. Dorothy had gone through a broken relationship and sobriety issues, that she’s been very upfront about. This song is her anthem, “coming out of the darkness, now that I’m flawless”, she sings. She performed this song with such emotion, the audience was all over this one, eyes closed and waving hands in the air.
Dorothy and her band walked off stage and came back for an encore. She spoke for a couple of minutes and decided the crowd was in a feisty mood so she changed her last song from “Shelter” which is a super slow track to “Dark Nights” to keep in the spirit of the evening. She tore down what was left of the venue with this one. No one wanted this night to end. The audience was ready to go a few more rounds.
Dorothy is one of those artists who connects with her fans. I know she had quite a few repeat offenders in the audience, myself included. It was really cool to see her as a headliner and not in a support position. I believe next tour she will be playing much larger venues. It’s been quite awhile since I went to a concert and thoroughly enjoyed all of the bands. I will be on the lookout for The Damn Truth and Spirit Animal to return to my area for sure. As for Dorothy, she said this is the last of the Freedom Tour and that she was going to write a new album. I know that all of her fans will eagerly be awaiting her return.