by Donte Kirby
Johnnyswim, with the powerful voices of Amanda Sudano-Ramirez and Abner Ramirez, turned everyone in attendance at the packed Ardmore Music Hall into die hard fans.
Their opening act was Liz Longley, a Philadelphia native who has since made the move to Nashville. I’m a city boy, and like a fool, I waited for a Suburban train that wasn’t coming, costing me my chance to see Longley. At the end of the night when fans gathered at the merchandise table, Longley received raved reviews and congratulations from the fans and Johnnyswim alike. Johnnyswim bassist Markus Hubert said, “We were backstage while you [Longley] were playing, and I was like, ‘Abner, you hear that, she’s amazing’.”
Like Johnnyswim said in their interview with That Mag earlier this week, they want fans to feel like they’re in their living room telling stories, and indeed it was. Before every song, there was a story or anecdote that related to it. They retold the story of Abner’s wedding proposal on their three year anniversary. I won’t attempt to retell that story because it won’t do justice to Sudano’s and Ramirez’s comedic timing. Just know that the story includes a brothel, dog poop at the Eiffel Tower and a botched wedding proposal that culminates in the song “Paris in June”.
Sudano’s and Ramirez’s voices are filled with power and charisma that draw you in the moment the first note is sung. Songs like “Take the World” are magnified live in a way that make the lyrics resonate and foster a greater urge to hear Johnnyswim. Their new album, Diamonds, where the majority of the songs from their set come from hits stores this Tuesday, the 29th. They’ll be in the tri-state area again for the Firefly Music Festival in June and The Philadelphia Folk Festival in August.
If you stay long enough at Ardmore Music Hall, you get two shows for one. At 10:00 p.m., the Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad show began, opened by 44 Steady.
I saw Dub and immediately thought dub step. I was pleasantly surprised when the rock infused reggae of 44 Steady began. The band started the groove off strong, getting the most avid reggae lovers on the floor. When Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad graced the stage, by their third song the whole venue was moving. The vibe was joyous and getting progressively free. When the four piece is playing, it’s impossible to be in a bad mood. Joy is what Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad offers and if you let yourself go and jam along with them, joy is what you’ll get.