CONCERT REVIEW: Farley ‘on Fire’

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First Posted: 4/8/2013

The second concert held at TwentyFiveEight Studios (703 N. Washington Ave., REAR, Scranton) on Saturday, April 6, may have contained a similar lineup to the first, but it was a much different show with just as many highlights, culminating in the release of headliner Farley’s new album, “Squaring Circles.”

The first show, held on Jan. 5, was The Push’s album release concert, so this time, the duo opened (though they emphasized that the other bands were “closing for” them) with stripped down versions of their tongue-in-cheek ’70s and ’80s-style hits, but not before making a dramatic entrance. Dressed in Pepsi tank tops, short shorts, knee-high orange Adidas socks, and NBA sweatbands, Jim Reynolds and Tim McDermott dribbled a basketball through the crowd and onto the stage while Bryant August of The Switch, dressed as a referee, kept the two in line with his whistle while aiding them with an extra guitar.

Kicking off with “When Push Comes to Shove,” they kept the mood and banter light throughout the eight-song set, noting that they spent more time preparing their costumes than practicing, but these acoustic versions, occasionally spiced up with electric guitar, offered just as much fun and technique as the album cuts. The inclusion of “Rock Woman” was a surprise, and while “Dance Pants” was the evident choice for the closer, the jazzy, scat-infused version they played was a showstopper.

Up next was A Fire With Friends, filling the warehouse with their wall of sound and impressing a crowd which had largely not been exposed to the band before, as they did not play the January show. The six-member Scranton-based group’s seven songs could best be described as progressive indie rock, offering all the dreamy delicateness and mournful screams of modern indie before breaking down into classic headbanging jams that led the songs down epic journeys guided by intriguing and ambiguous lyrics delivered by frontman Dan Rosler. “White Bike” appropriately mentions the ocean, rising and crashing beautifully like waves, and closer “Awful Things” was anything but, leaving a lasting impression that had many talking afterward.

Switching gears completely, Graces Downfall, who played acoustic last time, brought a badass set of seven mosh-worthy metal tunes, starting with fan-favorite “Always the Victim.” Singer Kenneth Norton kept a calm demeanor on stage, but his primal screams evoked the inner pain prevalent in songs like “Bridges Burn” and “Lie,” making a cover of Deftones’ “Swerve City” fit right in with down-and-dirty rock like “Blow.” The band’s energy provided the perfect build-up to Farley’s long-awaited entrance.

Tim Farley wasted no time debuting his new alternative pop rock music with Reynolds on guitar, Mike Krebs on bass, and Matt Jaffin on drums (each sharing backup vocal duties), starting with “Squaring Circles” album opener “Dance All Night.” “Hindsight” from debut EP “A Good Problem to Have” brought fans back to familiar territory, then “Don’t Go” picked up the pace with a jaunty breakdown and sing-along chorus. “Kiss Kiss Bang” got the crowd dancing before “Tiger Lily” sweetly slowed things down, easily transitioning to the emotional “Steady As She Goes.”

An extended cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” which included a brief sample of Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire” that managed to sneak its way perfectly into the animated guitar solos, brought the tempo back up again: “That’s an original,” Farley joked.

Farley ended the 13-song set with barnburner “Fuel the Fire” and new single “Eyes Wide Open,” noting that the latter’s new stop-motion animated video had already reached over 20,000 views on YouTube in just over a week. Any song on “Squaring Circles” has the potential to reach this broader audience, and if this successful CD release party is any indication, they’ll be ready for the influx of fans when it comes.