By Ziggy Merritt
Long defined by its commitment to providing a space for the underground punk movement in Philadelphia, for a few years now Kung Fu Necktie has fostered one of the more truly diverse lineup of musicians living in and touring through the city. Friday night was no different, showing off its more indie pop sensibilities with the east coast debut of Private Island touring with Harts and Future Generations.
Hailing from Southern California, the sextet combines the visceral energy of indie stalwarts such as Young the Giant or Local Natives and improvisational surf rock stylings that weave in elements of jazz and R&B. It’s easy enough to grow tired of the influx of indie pop as many who attempt to define themselves within the genre are unable to escape a quick comparison to someone else’s sound. Private Island manages to climb out of that hole, with a live act that speaks to their infectious and good-natured vibe, while still maintaining their own streak of transformative artistry.
With a series of singles and two EPs behind them (2014’s A Good Look and 2016’s Sunbreak), the outfit managed to run through much of their discography. Few if any tracks did not immediately amp up the crowd with “Bear Hands” and “Don’t Call Me” drawing the most vocal response. Both tracks saw vocalists Christian Lum and Michelle Guerrero set fire to the cool summer night with passionate, sonorous grooves that easily filled up the room.
The night also featured the debut of their new single, “Juvenile.” Soaked in summer, the track conjures up images of hot California nights, capturing the essence of spacey, retro-wave. It veers off into a bolder, more risky direction that sways closer to the realm of R&B.