Live Review: Despite The Hiatus, Philly Punk Band, The Loved Ones, Are Still Very Lovely

There are some things — like Furbies — that should never have been revived (Hasbro reintroduced the line in 2012).

Then, there are other things, like the Philadelphia punk band The Loved Ones, that should never have faded away to begin with.

The Loved Ones’ self-titled EP dropped in 2005 and was followed by two full-length albums. But after their 2009 EP Distractions, the band decided to take a hiatus. Frontman Dave Hause released two solo albums (his 2013 release Devour is one my favorite albums of the past few years), and, as is generally the case when a band member leaves to pursue their own projects, it seemed that The Loved Ones might, sadly, be a thing of the past.

[jump] Luckily, that’s not the case…at least not quite yet. To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Keep Your Heart, the band’s first full-length album released on Fat Chord Records in 2006, The Loved Ones are back, at least for a handful of dates across the country.

I attended their Saturday night show at Bottom of the Hill, and oh, what an anniversary it was.

It might have been 10 years since these songs were written, but damn do they age well. Like fine wine and even finer whiskey, five years off has been nothing but kind to the boys from Philly. The Loved Ones performed phenomenally and, dare I say, they might even be better than they were before.
For a band that hasn’t toured in years, you might expect some things to be a little rusty. Not so with The Loved Ones. They took the stage sans cobwebs, and, if anything, the time off has rejuvenated the band. Everyone was tight; it was a like watching a performance of an extremely confident band at the top of their game, not one jumping back together for an anniversary tour.

The Loved Ones tore wildly through material from Keep Your Heart, throwing in a few other songs along the way. Hause was the master of ceremonies, walking out on stage carrying a weird and goofy staff that could have been ripped right out of Gandalf’s hands. He was all smiles as the moshing crowd rushed the stage, singing back songs that had been written — at least in the music world — nearly a lifetime ago.

He seemed damn jubilant and was all smiles at the welcome the band received. You could tell each member of the band was just happy to be back on stage, and the crowd was just as happy to have them.

There were a few minor lapses in the evening, however. During the last song of the main set, “Player Hater Anthem” (ironically, a song directly aimed at what seemed to be an early critic’s review of the band), Hause seemed either taken by emotion, out of breath, or the band was taking the song a bit too fast for him to keep up. The encore-ending last song of the night, “Jane,” felt a bit off too, but it also could be that those are two of my favorite songs and I was just paying more attention to them.

But those were but a few minor details in an otherwise — how can I resist? — lovely evening. And hopefully the love San Francisco showed The Loved Ones will be enough to keep the band from going into another five-year hibernation. One can only hope.

Critic’s Notebook:

-Luck was just not with the concert as a whole. Some sound problems (a broken monitor, I believe) caused a giant lull during the first set break, pushing everything back. And then Broadway Call's drummer broke his kick drum. Ick.

-Speaking of openers, neither of them (San Francisco’s own toyGuitar and Oregon’s Broadway Call) did much for me. Both of them also needed their vocals turned up in the mix.

-It’s a little interesting watching — and reviewing — a band that I legitimately have no idea (and the band probably doesn’t either) if it will ever tour again. I’ve only seen The Loved Ones once before, in 2008, but I do really hope this isn’t the last time I get to see them.

-It was somebody in the audience’s 50th Birthday, so happy belated birthday fellowThe Loved Ones fan. Cheers!

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