ON Stage: TLA offers triple-header bill

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Plain White T’s

Frequently, area venues present twin bills where music fans can “double their pleasure and double their fun” at a concert featuring complementary co-headliners.

On December 11, fans can “triple their pleasure and triple their fun” when Theatre of the Living Arts (334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-222-1011, http://www.lnphilly.com) hosts a triple bill with three headline acts — “New Politics, Plain White T’s & The Mowgli’s – The 3 Dimensional Tour.”

Plain White T’s — Tom Higgenson, Tim Lopez, Dave Tirio, De’Mar Hamilton, Mike Retondo – are now in their third decade as a band having kicked off their vibrant career in the Chicago suburbs in 1997.

New Politics is a Danish rock band from Copenhagen, formed in 2009. The band’s line-up currently features David Boyd, Søren Hansen, and Louis Vecchio.

The Mowgli’s are an American alternative rock band from Los Angeles County, California. The band’s current members are Katie Earl, Dave Appelbaum, Josh Hogan, Matthew Di Panni and Andy Warren.

“This tour we’re on right now – ‘The 3 Dimensional Tour’ – is a tripleheader,” said Plain White T’s vocalist/guitarist Tom Higgenson, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Houston, Texas.

“We’re all trading off headlining the show – taking turns as opener, middle act and closer. We each play 50 minutes each night.

“Our band plays the same set list every night – changing a couple songs here and there. We’re having a blast playing older material. And, this is our last tour of the states on our new album.”

The most recent album by Plain White T’s is “Parallel Universe,” which was released in August 2018 on Fearless Records. On August 23, 2019, the band released a deluxe version of the album – also on Fearless Records. The expanded edition includes new tracks such as “Let’s Lay Low” and acoustic alternate takes.

According to Higgenson, “The response we are getting from the fans about ‘Let’s Lay Low’ is blowing our minds. We are so excited to release the deluxe edition of ‘Parallel Universe’ with that one, and a few more never-before-heard bonus tracks.”

Since emerging in 1997, the GRAMMY® Award-nominated multiplatinum Chicago quintet has amassed an enduring, engaging, and enigmatic catalog, spanning two gold-certified offerings – “All That We Needed” (2005) and “Every Second Counts” (2006) — and unshakable anthems such as the double-platinum “1,2,3,4” and platinum “Rhythm of Love.”

The band’s discography also includes “Hey There Delilah,” which went quadruple-platinum, topped the Billboard Hot 100, and earned a pair of 2008 GRAMMY® Award nominations in the categories of “Song of the Year” and “Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.”

“Next year is the 10th anniversary of our ‘Wonders of the Younger’ album,” said Higgenson. “It’s also the 15th anniversary of our ‘All That We Needed’ album.

“We’ll do a few shows next year to commemorate some of the albums. We might do a special anniversary edition on vinyl because the ‘Wonders of the Younger’ album never came out on vinyl.”

Higgenson and Tirio are founding members. Lopez and Retondo have been in the band since 2002 and Hamilton joined in 2003.

“We’ve had the same line-up for almost 20 years,” said Higgenson. “We’re still super-tight – and super good friends. We genuinely like each other.”

The first three albums by Plain White T’s were on Fearless Records. The next three were released by Hollywood Records.

“American Nights,” the seventh studio album by Plain White T’s, was released by Megaforce Records in March 2015.

“Now, we’re back on the label we started on,” said Higgenson. “It can be hard dealing with a major label at times. But we did have a few big radio hits with Hollywood Records.

“The next time we tour, it will be with a new album. We’ve been working this year on a new T’s album. I’ve been working on new material and having fun. This tour has been fun too. It’s one fun, exciting, amazing, breathtaking show.”

Video link for the Plain White T’s – https://youtu.be/1OuZsxX6JLE.

New Politics

New Politics may sound like something the United States really needs right now to get the country back on track but, in reality, it is the name of a band — an international trio with two Danes and an American drummer.

On November 11, New Politics released its fifth album, “An Invitation to an Alternate Reality,” via Big Noise Music Group.

Like Plain White T’s, New Politics has experience with major labels. Its first two albums – “New Politics” (2010) and “A Bad Girl in Harlem” (2013) were released by RCA Records. “Vikings” (2105) and “Lost in Translation” (2017) came out on DCD2 Records/Warner Bros. Records.

“Søren and I first met at a session in Copenhagen,” said Boyd, during a phone interview last week from a tour stop in Atlanta, Georgia.

“It’s a tiny island. I had been living in Copenhagen eight years when I met Søren.

“We took a lunch break and started admiring each other’s songs. We started playing together and within six months had interest from labels in New York.

In November 2009, New Politics signed with RCA and decided to move to the United States.

“When we came to New York, someone introduced us to Louis,” said Hansen. “He lived on an island too – Long Island. We all were living in Brooklyn.”

Boyd said, “We had a good eight years in Brooklyn. Now I’m living in Los Angeles while Louis and Søren are still in New York. Søren and I have lived here for 10 years.

“We just had our 10-year anniversary of living in the states and we moved. We got out of one record deal. We got out of a publishing deal. The latest record we did with an indie label. We’re in a place where we’re re-settling – closing the last decade and doing something in a new place.

“We needed a break from a major label. I don’t know if business and art are meant to mix. We definitely wiped the slate clean. Everything started changing. What this decade has shown us is a sense of what genre our music is – hopeful and expressive.

Hansen said, “With the new album, some of it was recorded in Copenhagen, some was done in Brooklyn and some in L.A. This record has been done on our own terms. With this record, we have something that can take on a life of its own.

“We were faced with different realities constantly. We had some songs laying around. So, we flew out to L.A. to work with John Feldman. A few songs into the recording, the answers came on their own.

“It was super easy. Feldman Studio is in Calabasas, so we stayed at an Airbnb in the neighborhood. We recorded in chunks. We also did a little work on it in Nashville.”

Boyd talked about the evolution of the band’s sound.

“We see this record differently in a way – because we needed to do something different,” said Boyd. “We had done all our earlier records the same way. This time, we wanted a different sound. It was a necessary breath of fresh air. We’ve been taking chances.

“John Feldman is an amazing producer and he does things his way. This was the first album we recorded without multiple producers.  John is also part owner of Big Noise so that’s why we put the album out on that label.” Video link for the Plain White T’s – https://youtu.be/1OuZsxX6JLE.

Video link for New Politics – https://youtu.be/Aw56iIqbGkM.

The show at Theatre of the Living Arts on December 11 – “New Politics, Plain White T’s & The Mowgli’s – The 3 Dimensional Tour” — will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $29.

On Wednesday night a few blocks away from the TLA, Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528, www.bootandsaddlephilly.com) is hosting a music act that has no need to be concerned about recording for a major label – Shredders.


Shredders is part of the Doomtree Collective.

Doomtree started as a mess of friends in Minneapolis, fooling around after school, trying to make music without reading the manual. The group had varied tastes—rap, punk, indie rock, pop—so the music they made together often bore the toolmarks of several styles. When they had enough songs, they booked some shows. They burned some CDs to sell. The shows got bigger.

Of necessity, Doomtree’s seven members (Cecil Otter, Dessa, Lazerbeak, Mike Mictlan, P.O.S, Paper Tiger, and Sims) figured out how to run a small business. Lazerbeak’s garage became the merchandise warehouse; P.O.S’ mom’s basement became the webstore. A decade and 50 releases later, it’s all properly official — Doomtree is now a real label with international distribution. Although each member has a career as a solo artist, every so often the whole crew convenes to make a collaborative record as a group.

“Doomtree just put out Dessa’s live album with the Minnesota Orchestra,” said Sims, during a phone interview last week from his home in Minneapolis.

“Beak has his solo album on the way, and I have a solo album coming soon. Doomtree is an arts collective. We put it on the back burner when we have other things happening.”

One of those other things is Shredders.

Shredders is the new indie rap project from Doomtree members P.O.S, Sims, Lazerbeak, and Paper Tiger. The supergroup formed after a Doomtree crew hiatus in 2016, allowing each member to focus more in-depth on personal projects. With solo albums already completed, the quartet sequestered themselves in various Midwestern cabins and Airbnbs over a six-month period to experiment with more up-tempo and aggressive material.

The result was Shredders’ monstrous debut album “Dangerous Jumps,” released on Doomtree Records in late 2017. P.O.S and Sims consistently one-upped each other with dizzying wordplay and anthemic hooks over an unrelenting soundtrack scored by veteran producers Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger. After a six-month break from the road,Shredders just released their sophomore album “Great Hits.”

The production is crisper than ever as Lazerbeak and Paper Tiger combine forces and take on genres outside of the typical hip-hop scope. Lead single “Suburban Base” is an ode to the breakneck drum n’ bass that Paper Tiger grew up on, and “Vanilla ISIS” connects with the house and dance music that Lazerbeak has gravitated towards over the years.

The result is the first truly cohesive Shredders album.

What started as a loose side project has morphed into a full-fledged band firing on all cylinders.

“At the start, Doomtree was on break so we decided to go in the studio and make songs,” said Sims. “We did it and it felt good. We made more songs, played shows and became a band.

“For all of us, a Shredders record is just about getting in the studio and letting it rip – get in there, have fun making the music and love making the process. Paper Tiger and Beak play the beats while me and P.O.S. do the lyrics.”

Video link for Shredders – https://youtu.be/HAVtFKmu9p4.

The show at Boot and Saddle, which has Toki Wright & Big Cats as the opening act, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15.

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