Catching live music is easy. Finding a truly unique and well-rounded show is the difficult part. Friday’s Sol Cat debut at Philadelphia’s Northstar Bar was one of those show rarities. Sol Cat has been on the road for the better part of a decade. This hard touring band is comprised of a group of musicians all honed and polished in the limelight of Nashville Tennessee’s fantastic music scene. As of late that scene has been producing a jaw-dropping mix of garage rock that has the music scene taking cues and notice. From Jeff the Brotherhood to Diarrhea Planet, Nashville is the place to be playing rock music. Sure Sol Cat is not yet a well-known band. Selfishly I enjoy when a band hovers just below the surface of greatness, but these guys are hungry, playing with passion and all deserving of larger things. Having just released the EP Uno featuring songs that I’ve heard them road-test for a while, it was no surprise that they moved the crowd the same way they have always done. The EP polished the road off the songs where their live show gave them a bit more wiggle room. It allowed singer Brett Hammann to wax poetic on “Dirty Glasses” and Guitarists Jaan Cohan and Johny Fisher to link up to create musical magic during “Body Like That.” Sol Cat delved into some the jams and moments that showcase them at the height of their game as musicians.
What made this night eclectic and wonderful was the not just one of my favorite bands from Nashville, but a combination of two wildly different opening bands. The first local surprise was unplanned and it seemed that the tour manager pulled some strings or friends in the form of Field Graves aka Ruby the Hatchet, after another band dropped off the bill. Ruby the Hatchet appeared to be missing their drummer so lead singer Jillian Taylor hung back on the kit as the band jammed quite loosely and freely through a hazy set of tracks off of Valley of the Snake including a twisted and wildly psychedelic version of “Vast Acid.” As we dug into our second brown liquid drink of the evening it was fairly clear this pop-up Ruby the Hatchet show was a secret treat especially when you consider that the band will headline Underground Arts in a week. Sandwiched in-between Sol Cat and RTH were the Shy Boyz a group that was as much about putting on a show as they were about playing music. Think a combination featuring Of Montreal meets a soulful version of Balkan Beat Box. It turned into a spectacle featuring men in diapers, but it kept us entertained and energized for Sol Cat.
The Sol Cat set began with Brett Hammann uncorking a tight and bounding version of “Fishing with John” that saw relative newcomer to the band Jeremy Clark on keyboards keep the groove going strong with his left hand moving the bass lines off of his keys and into our ears. “Tumbleweed” had the small crowd up, but it was a “Body Like That” which sent Jillian Taylor and her buddies from Ruby The Hatchet into a synchronized dance front and center of the stage. It was a perfect move from the other band because guitarists Jaan Cohan and Johny Fisher went with the ladies vibe as the whole room let the song take control and shook to it. The band remarked several times how eclectic the Philadelphia scene was on their first visit. The beauty of Sol Cat is that they have a sound that can fit into a lot of places. You can dance to it, nod your head to it, or just relax with their sound. The wide variety of opening sounds helped introduce the talent and variety coming from this new Nashville staple. Sol Cat is a band you dream about late night when you’re in need of a musical fix. When you’re hot and the summer humidity is melting you away, Sol Cat plays you the music you need to escape.
Peep a selection of the Sol Cat show in the video below featuring bits of “Fishing With John,” “Dirty Glasses,” and “Body Like That”