Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Concert Review: Civilian @ The Foundry - Philadelphia, PA 03/06/17

Civilian, as a band, is a message.  A call for change, not revolution. Their message is not preachy by any means. They want you to be aware of the role you play in change for any issue you are passionate about.  Their lyrics ask you to think.  Any journey starts with a small step.  That step is not tweeting about it.  That step is not posting about your displeasure.  That step is our interaction with the problem.  Become active.  Lend a helping hand.  Give your time.  Give your compassion.  Think. That is when you realize the brilliance of Civilian.

That is my description of Civilian. How would Civilian describe themselves?

And they are.  Civilian is a group of four working class stiffs.  Their day job is not making music. Making music is their labor of love.  They devise catchy, indie rock that makes you think.  Their lyrics aren't cliche or meaningless. Instead they integrate social issues that hit home with the band personally, such as rape and homelessness. They ask you to see these issues for what they are without over dramatizing the message.

Front man, Ryan Alexander, asked us to imagine every horrible job that we've ever had and that's what they do for a living.  If you want to visit Civilian at their day jobs they won't be there. They are calling out sick.  These several weeks are for playing "Rock Star," including a stop at The Foundry in Philadelphia, PA opening for Eisley. The Foundry oozes with the character of an old Fishtown factory set with cool lighting and comfortable seating.  It is a vibe that lets the audience relax and dig into the music.

Civilian had the chemistry of a band that is still ecstatic that they are getting to play music and actually get paid for it.  They looked at each other and smiled as they watched each other play.  They were lost in the moment, which made me get lost in their moment. They made me forget that they weren't the headliner.  It's special when an opening act can get you to that point. Their jangly, indie rock was hypnotizing the crowd.  Standout songs from their set included, "James Kent" about a homeless friend of Ryan's and, "Cut and Run," which was a crowd favorite.  By the end of their set the crowd was wanting more. Ryan was talkative with the crowd and before their last song he shared a touching story about his childhood with us.  I don't feel as though I could do it justice so I will let Ryan tell you himself.

What amazes me is that no matter how many concerts I attend, no matter how big or small the band, no matter of the hype or the obscurity of the act, there is always someone there whose life has just been changed by their music.  There is that one individual patiently waiting in line at the merch table.  At Civilian's table Ryan spent time with that one person.  He asked for that person's name and shook that person's hand. He handed over a free copy of their CD, You Wouldn't Believe What Privilege Cost. He made that person feel special.  As the line grew behind that fan Ryan continued to do that with each and every new fan.  The line never seemed to end.

The line was still long well into Eisley's set.  I thought about their message well into my drive home.  There are plenty of bands out there with mindless lyrics.  Civilian is not one of them.  Go and see Civilian, open up your mind and go on the journey. Civilian are good boys.  They will tell you themselves.

See you when the needle drops!


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