A Silent Film Creates A Theatrical Experience at Johnny Brendas

Photography by Samantha Sweeney

There are not enough adjectives to describe the performance that went down on Tuesday night in a certain former burlesque theatre in Fishtown. The show that occurred–nay, the experience–featured the effortlessly theatrical A Silent Film. The two-to-four-piece troupe brought the heart and soul of gracious music-creators to the respect and appreciation of the crowd…and not to mention new, unreleased material and Pokemon Go jokes.

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Robert Stevenson of A Silent Film performs at Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA

But first, Brooklyn singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Gibbz kicked off the show with an electronic R&B-pop-mix that was multi-layered, raw, and quite hooky. The self-described “liability” was a great albeit slightly unexpected pairing to A Silent Film’s refinement. In addition to having a great banter with the crowd (“You’re awesome!” “Thank you! Can you call my mom and tell her?”), his effortless falsetto, catchy lyrics and hooky chord progression had this writer singing the track “I Really Love You” all the way back home.

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Gibbz performs at Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA

Without wasting a beat after Gibbz broke down his equipment, the crowd anxiously waited for them to come onstage to set up their instruments.  With a few waves, the members disappeared again into the shadows of backstage. The lights went down and the diamond-shaped logo illuminated on-stage for an eerie beginning that set the theatrical yet intimate tone of the show as the band processed back on-stage to kick off “Harbour Lights.” Throughout the show, the band played a mix of old favorites (“Paralysed” was met with huge applause), newer tunes (single “Something to Believe In“) and, as promised, newer, unreleased material such as the standout “Shadow Does Not Fit The Shape” and “Celia.”

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Spencer Walker of A Silent Film performs at Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA

Having never seen A Silent Film play live before, I was struck by both the love and respect both crowd and band gave each other in a musical symbiotic relationship. Notably the real love came from the mainstays lead vocalist Robert Stevenson and drummer Spencer Walker, who treated the crowd like old friends and stripped down mid-set with an even-more-intimate acoustic performance. The set up was Walker and Stevenson with their instruments and a vintage light bulb, previewing two covers, “More Than Words” by Extreme and “It Makes No Difference” by The Band, and aforementioned new track “Shadow Does Not Fit The Shape.” The four-song strip-down was the perfect treat for A Silent Film fans and quite a special thing to witness.

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Spencer Walker (left) and Robert Stevenson (right) perform stripped-down acoustic set at Johnny Brenda’s

When their mates rejoined them back onstage, the whole band returned with a renewed fervor, launching into the drum-heavy opening of “Firefly In My Window.” This fervor carried them through the rest of the set, ending on “Danny Dakota & The Wishing Well,” before all but Spencer exited the stage. Walker took this moment alone to hilariously pantomime to the crowd, egging on a two-song encore to which the rest of the band graciously accepted without much prompting. Can’t wait until they return!

Now, see all the photos from the show below. In the comment section, tell us your favorite new song from the show!

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