It was ladies’ night (of sorts) at Philadelphia’s Johnny Brenda’s with three local female-fronted psych rock bands: Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlesome Bells, Heavy Temple, and Ruby the Hatchet. It was the latter’s record release show for Planetary Space Child, and I can’t praise that album enough. Seriously, listen to it right now if you haven’t yet.
First on the bill was Meddlesome Meddlesome Meddlesome Bells (could you guys please add another “meddlesome” to the name?). I hadn’t heard of them prior to this show, but damn they kicked ass. They played a relatively familiar blues-based psych rock, but the songwriting was excellent. Equal parts relaxing and heavy, their tunes were easily accessible. They definitely rise above the crop of bands they likely get categorized with. I was won over right away.
Sandwiched in the middle was psychedelic doom metal three-piece Heavy Temple, who I’ve covered countless times on this site. The power trio simply kills every show they do. They bookended their set with “Key and Bone” and “In the Court of the Bastard King” from their latest EP, both of which start slow-and-low, and end in a galloping frenzy. Those two are always classic rippers. However, their new material in the middle of their set was intriguing for sure. A mix of catchy melodic riffs, contemplative bass lines, and enough fuzz to go around, you can always trust that they’ll vary it up and continuously sound fresh. Needless to say, I can’t wait for their next release, in whatever form it may be in.
Ruby the Hatchet was up next and wow was their set amazing. They played their new album, Planetary Space Child in its entirety, as well as almost all of their previous record, Valley of the Snake. In their set they wove between the two albums, and the material blended seamlessly. This band is seriously on top of their game. Their live performance was true to form and they breathed more life into their already stellar tracks. “Planetary Space Child,” “Symphony of the Night,” “Killer,” and “Lightning Comes Again” from the new LP were highlights of the night. The back half of “Lightning Comes Again” has a special kind of uplifting energy to it.
There’s a certain magic the group attains with their music. They constantly churn out undeniably memorable melodies, backed by a soaring guitar, spacey keys, and elegant vocals, but they are greater than the sum of their parts. The packed-in audience was clearly digging them too, constantly cheering them on. The epic doom number “Tomorrow Never Comes” was a stand-out finisher, absolutely crushing. A small mosh pit formed during the up-tempo movement within the song, which you don’t typically see at a psych rock show.
This sold out concert shows that Philly has its own flourishing psych rock/doom metal scene. This was my favorite time witnessing both Ruby the Hatchet and Heavy Temple, and seeing as this was my first Meddlesome Bells concert, it was also my favorite time watching them too. This is definitely the best show I’ve been to in a while. All three of these bands deserve a larger audience!
Ruby the Hatchet Setlist:
1. A Tear in Space and Time
2. Planetary Space Child
3. Heavy Blanket
5. The Fool
6. Pagan Ritual
7. The Unholy Behemoth
8. Symphony of the Night
9. Vast Acid
11. Lightning Comes Again
13. Tomorrow Never Comes