On Stage (Extra): A music battle of Philly vs. Pittsburgh

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By Denny Dyroff, Staff Writer, The Times

Rosu Lup

Pennsylvania’s two major cities – Philadelphia and Pittsburgh – will both be represented by hometown bands headlining venues.

Two of the many acts playing Philly on July 1 are Pittsburgh’s Homeless Gospel Choir and Philadelphia’s Rosu Lup.

Rosu Lup, which is headlining a show on June 1 at Boot and Saddle (1131 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-639-4528), is a musical collaboration between songwriters Jonathan Stewart and Josh Marsh.

“Rosu Lup was originally just a recording project,” said Marsh, during a phone interview Thursday afternoon from his home in Wilmington, Delaware.

“Our bass player Jonathan Stewart and his cousin Mike McNesby, who was our original guitarist, were living in New Jersey – in the West Deptford/Cherry Hill area. I was living in Burlington, Vermont and decided to move down here to pursue music.

“I saw a Craigslist ad for a singer. I took them up on their offer – and it worked. I went to New Jersey and played a few songs for them.

“Then, we wrote a couple songs together. Before long, we had written a small EP. Then, we did a three-song EP in Philadelphia. Mike helped with the first two EPs and then went on his own way.

“Jonathan and I are the main force. We write all the music. In the last two-and-a-half years, we have a pool of friends that we write, record and do live shows with. Jonathan is the driving force of our aesthetic. He’s a great producer.”

Rosu Lup represents the more folky and ethereal side of the Philly music scene.

The band has worked with local legends such as Jonathan Low (The National/Sufjan Stevens), Brian McTear (The War on Drugs/Sharon Van Etten), and Lou Rogai (Lewis & Clarke) on the production of the debut album and utilized the talents of drummer Chris Powell (Man Man).

Rosu Lup’s recently released debut album is titled “Is Anything Real.”

“We were working on the album for about a year-and-a-half,” said Marsh. “We decided to self-fund it because we didn’t want to go into a lot of debt. At the same time, we didn’t want to sacrifice any quality.

“We took our time and did a few songs per session. We released it last March with an album release show at Johnny Brenda’s.”

“Is Anything Real,” which is a collection of lush, well-crafted songs, was almost fully written when the band entered the studio. Stewart and Marsh took the time needed to create an aurally-pleasing album of intelligent and cinematic songs.

“One of our favorite subject matters is love,” said Marsh. “Love, death, introspection – is anything real? What is the nature of life and death?

“We used a lot of cinematic string parts. We love nature and we love organic sounds. We wanted to find a way to have the best of both worlds – rock music and organic instruments.”

Video link for Rosu Lup – https://youtu.be/GhRpG4dDPog.

The show at Boot & Saddle, which also features The Chairman Dances and a CD Release Party for The Lunar Year, will start at p.m. Tickets are $10.

The Homeless Gospel Choir

Like Rosu Lup, Homeless Gospel Choir, which will headline a show on July 1 at Pharmacy (1300 South 18th Street, Philadelphia, www.thepharmacyphilly.org), is more a musical project than a full-tilt live Homeless Gospel Choir.

Derek Zanetti, also known as The Homeless Gospel Choir, is a protest singer, author and artist based out of Pittsburgh.

With a mixture of his on-stage humor and real-life vulnerability, Zanetti creates an atmosphere of inclusion and community. He engages with the audience in a way that allows them to know that they’re not alone.

He has been making angsty, acoustic, punk-fueled protest songs for more than five years. Zanetti’s new record, “Normal,” was described by Frank Turner as “a generationally defining album for the underground punk scene.”

“My third album ‘Normal’ is coming out in August,” said Zanetti, during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from his home in Pittsburgh.

“We’ve already heard the test pressings. It’s coming out on A-F Records. It’s my second record for them. The first was my ‘I Used To Be So Young’ album in 2014. My first album ‘Luxury Problems’ was self-released in 2011.

“‘Normal’ is a concept album – a story about a puppet show. The songs are a soundtrack for the show. It’s about a little kid who is looking for hope and belonging and community.

“He finds it in universal peace. He ends up with a bunch of losers — people who always get out of bed on the wrong side. There are 10 songs on the album. It’s pretty current.”

Zanetti welcomed the challenge of making a concept record.

“Any time you put your art out there, it’s a daunting effort,” said Zanetti, who grew up in the Pittsburgh area and graduated from West Mifflin High School.

“I want listeners to look at it as a different piece of art – something that tells a story. Hopefully, it can be an interactive experience for them.

“I wrote all the songs on guitar and had a bucnch of friends come and play the other parts. I made the album at A-F Studio in Pittsburgh and also did some recording at a small studio in Sharpsburg.

“I finished it in February and now it’s time to tour it. For the time being, it’s just me on acoustic guitar. I want people to hear the words and story as cleanly as possible.

“I’ll play the songs with a band after it’s been out for a while. For now, it’s acoustic shows on this tour with Early Riser and then I’ll headline some solo shows in Alaska.”

Video link for Homeless Gospel Choir – https://youtu.be/lyxVOrpgHOI.

The show at Pharmacy, which also features Early Riser, Joshua Alvarez and Child Savage, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10.

In This Moment

In This Moment, which brings its “Half God/Half Devil Tour” to Freedom Hall (Lancaster County Convention Center, King Street, Lancaster, is a metalcore band that got its start in Los Angeles 10 years ago.

The powerful metal band was put together by singer Maria Brink and guitarist Chris Howorth in 2005. “Ritual,” the band’s sixth album in 10 years, will be released this month by Atlantic Records in conjunction with Roadrunner Records.

“‘Ritual’ drops on July 21,” said Howorth, during a phone interview Thursday from a tour stop in St. Louis, Missouri. “This is our second pre-release tour.

“A month ago, we did a short tour and played two of the new songs. On this tour, we’re doing four or five new ones. When we tour again in the fall, we’ll play even more songs from ‘Ritual.’”

In This Moment released its debut album “Beautiful Tragedy” in 2007 followed by “The Dream” (2008), “A Star-Crossed Wasteland’ (2010), “Blood” (2012), and “Black Widow” (2014).

“Right now, all the ‘Beautiful Tragedy’ and ‘The Dream’ songs have fallen off the table,” said Howorth. “We tried last tour and a lot of people didn’t know the songs. People more know the newer stuff. It picks up with ‘Blood.’”

Right before “Blood,” the band went through a personnel change-up with only Brink and Howorth remaining.

“Once that happened, our crowds went from 300 to 1000-plus — with people singing all the words,” said Howorth. “With the new members, we had more creativity. We had nothing to lose. We didn’t worry about what people wanted.

“On ‘Blood,’ we used more keyboards and samples. The previous albums were group efforts. ‘Blood’ was just Maria, producer Kevin Churko and me doing the songwriting. We’ve done our last four albums with Kevin.

“With ‘Ritual,’ we were working on it five months total. We had a few songs written prior to getting in the studio. Then, we got in and a lot of things changed.”

This tour will provide the band’s fans with their first opportunity to hear the new tunes.

“We’ve never play songs live until they’ve been recorded,” said Howorth. “Maria and I write separately because we live in different cities. I’m in San Diego and she lives in Albany, New York.

“With ‘Ritual,’ most of the songs were written when we were there in the studio. We agonize over every song. On the new album, we had a feeling we wanted to capture before we even started the album. And, it turned out just the way we wanted.”

Video link for In This Moment — https://youtu.be/XqdYHnulCms.

The show at Freedom Hall, which also features Vimic and Little Miss Nasty, will start at 6 p.m. Tickets are $31.50.

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