What type of great poison is being pumped into the water in Philly? Killadelph has been cranking out some awesome bands in recent times, all of whom are nowhere near as boring as Kurtis Vile or Drugs On War (War on Rugs). One band that caught my interest after one listen of their song “Bower Birds’ is the the great, great The Great Enough. These guys kick up a stir. Watching them is like being part of their party. The exuberant quartet consists of Bright Kelly, vox/gee-tar, Brian DiBiagio, lead axe, Jon Hoff, percussion, and Robby Crane, bass and keys. It’s a feisty four piece up in here.
Kelly admits his raspy voice is not the product of whiskey and cigarettes but simply “puberty”. He claims to “run with what he’s got”. Trust me, this guy isn’t just another voice on indie radio. This is a driven band that hunkers down and frequently practices 3–4 hours at a time to achieve their self-described “Soulalternative” sound. The band intentionally strips away some of the expectations (and limitations) of the genre by allowing Kelly’s raspy, soulful, Wilson Pickettish instincts to run wild or by elevating the lyrics. The Great Enough want to “move people” Kelly claims. “During rehearsals our drummer John serves as our drill sergeant and we try to create a constructive listening environment where push each other toward perfection. We don’t just jam – we’re a really driven band.” GE draws from a plethora of genres including vintage rock, late 90s alt, a sprinkling of prog, and vintage soul They also appreciate modern bands such as the Killers and Young the Giant. They have been digging into Judah and The Lion,a band for which they’ve opened.
Lyrically they are a step above some of the other bands rocking in the free world lately. Attribute this to Kelly, a self-proclaimed “word nerd” who devours books in his spare time. In fact, the band’s name comes from a line out of one of his favorite novels, The Society of Others by William Nicholson. Kelly says he wants The Great Enough to embody a certain feeling: “You had a hard day at work and maybe you stop off to grab a drink. Then there is that moment when you see your friends and they are happy to see you and all the drama of life goes away”
He says he is “a ginger manic up on stage belting out soul songs cleverly disguised as alt rock or power pop anthems.” He leans into a Freddie Mercury and most recently a Brian Fallon vibe, creating an “unapologetic brashness” about the way he delivers a song. The boys in the band clearly elevate his vision, pouring in a brash combo of rippling guitar, tasty bass lines, and wide open percussion which includes rhythmic bongo playing.
Their album Born dropped in July. The elegant yet popping tune “Bower Birds’ exemplifies the band’s lyrical abilities. I hear a bit of Scott Hutchinson in his smoky vocal delivery. Bowerbirds “are renowned for their unique courtship behavior, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly colored objects in an attempt to attract a mate.” Kelly sings, “She said said you we are not Bower Birds/ You need not bring me a thing/ If you love me sing”. It’s a gorgeous and lofty song aimed at getting the audience in “hoedown mode”. Judging from the Youtube vids, their aim is certainly true on this one.
“Die Young” plays on his gruff, gravely vocal abilities. He is in top soul rocker form on this track. Raunchy in the best possible descriptor, and there’s some wigged out, interlocking guitar lines and just-behind-the-beat drumlines to really sell it. “I set fires, die young /Cause living is easy.”
“Its Inexplicable” also has an anthemic vibe. “And you know the pen is mighty/ It’s inexplicable why we try again/We try again!” A buzzing guitar keeps the pace. Drum beats chase the vocals, not the bass. It lodges in your auditory system as if from a loud car radio on a summer drive in 1974.
I caught a vid of the band doing a cover of the ChVrches “Get Out” which highlights the bold magnetism Kelly exudes as front man. This is certainly not another gaggle of skeletal indie kids shying away from showmanship, afraid of the consequences stirred up from leaving a bold imprint. They all look very polished for such a young band, and they’re already picking up airplay on Philthy stations.
When’s the last time you saw actual fists in the air at an indie show? The bold and brave The Great Enough want you to stop your foot-planted, cross-armed, seen-it-all- show pose and kick up some dust like it’s pre-Live Nation.
And for that they should be commended.