It was the last week of July and the sun was inescapable. Hypnotized by the type of oppressive heat that guides you towards cold air conditioning and even colder beer, the men and women of Manayunk drifted over the hot concrete until the promise of each pulled them across thresholds on each side of the street. Although for the people walking through the doorway at 4421 on Main Street, cold air was not the only thing moving their feet across the pavement. Appearing at Lucky’s Last Chance one day after their performance at Philadelphia’s Xponential Festival, the Nashville based six-piece, Kopecky, gathered at the popular bar on the last Monday of the month (07-27-15) to deliver a free acoustic performance. They had announced the show online only twenty-four hours before, notifying fans worldwide at the same time it was being scrawled in bold-faced, dusty letters on the bar’s chalkboard street sign. Currently on tour promoting their newest record, 2015’s Drug For The Modern Age, singer/keyboardist Kelsey Kopecky, singer/guitarist Gabe Simon, guitarist Steven Holmes, bassist Corey Oxendine, cellist Markus Midkiff and drummer David Krohn settled onto the small stage on the building’s second floor before beginning a set laced with songs recounting their eight years as a band.
Flooding through each window behind them, the light from outside had reduced the group to weightless, moving shadows, held to the floor by the grip on each of their mic stands. As the audience quieted and a television on the wall silently recycled images from an ESPN broadcast, a seated Simon began to strum his acoustic guitar. Opening with the song for which their latest album is named, “Drug For The Modern Age,” the band summoned the forlorn, weariness that comes with the understanding that, “there’s a season where we’re both gonna die.” It’s a somber sentiment that’s ultimately uplifting, possessing a time waits for no one mentality that acknowledges not just physical death, but the vastly different versions of ourselves that exist over the course of our lifetime. It’s also the most sweeping arrangement they have written to date, beautifully understated even as it takes you somewhere completely unexpected. Stripped down, the song maintained a certain delicateness when performed in the small space, though it’s final sing-along style refrain had managed to feel far more empowering than sentimental. Wrapping moments of self-reflection and catharsis within a thoroughly blissful melody, “Drug For The Modern Age” firmly established that while Kopecky’s music has always preserved a certain polish, there are always bigger ideas just waiting to be uncovered.
Founded in 2007 by Kopecky and Simon, the band exhibited a bond as indestructible as the brick wall behind them. Contributing to the laid-back atmosphere of the performance, the group’s own closeness and onstage conversation had in turn forged an immediate rapport with the audience. Between stories and jokes, they performed a career-spanning set that showcased the smart, mesmeric pop rock of 2012’s Kids Raising Kids and this summer’s Drug For The Modern Age. Early on, “Quarterback” and the fan-requested “Animal” off of the 2011 EP, Of Epic Proportions, had garnered the most excitement, transforming the audience into a vocal choir who held onto their beer as if it were sheet music. Although it was adding in a surprise cover of the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face,” that had once again reinforced the band’s ability to produce a sound punctuated by it’s very own contrasts. Eliminating just the right amount of smoothness present in the original, Kopecky’s version of the summer hit felt considerably tougher, honing in on a bass line that felt brass-bound and armored in their hands. Although it was the bluesy indie rock of the Kids Raising Kids track, “Heartbeat” that had later prompted the audience to put down their drinks and place their hands in the air, clapping along and singing with the band at such a volume that it seems unlikely that the sound didn’t spill out onto the streets below. And while stripped down sets can occasionally lack punch, Kopecky treated Philadelphia to a rich, energetic performance strengthened by their connection to their audience.
Article: Caitlin Phillips