Bad Luck and Dollar Signs Deliver All-In Performances At Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia (SHOW REVIEW)

Photo credit: Nia Garza

Bad Luck and Dollars Signs co-headlined on Saturday, May 21st at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia. They were joined by Out of Service and Taking Meds, making for a very full evening that was pretty well-attended by folks willing to brave the unseasonably warm 97 degree heat in Fishtown. If anything, it seem to fuel the upbeat atmosphere.

Out of Service kicked things off with Indie Rock that was particularly guitar-driven, featuring “Threshold” and “Burden” from their previous album and “A Moment Trapped in Time”, and “The Ferry” from their latest collection. The latter featured a guest saxophone player and made for a strong finale. The band are local to New Jersey and seemed to have a very good handle not only on the distinctive sound of their newest tracks, but also on bringing it to performance in an accessible way.

Brooklyn-based band Bad Luck could be called Rock, or Pop-inflected Punk, but their performance on Saturday really argued for a breaking down of categories in order to make room for their individualistic approach to songwriting and performance. Their latest album, Summer of Pain, comes across as brutally honest and musically varied, and was on sale at the show in chipper multi-colored “beachball” vinyl. That’s actually in keeping with the energy and filtered optimism that does underly the album, too. 

Bad Luck played songs from the new album, including “The Plan Is No Plan”, and “Deja Voodoo Doll”. “Last Bus (Change)” also made an appearance, from Miscellaneous, and conjured an almost Rockabilly style of vocals from Dominick Fox. For a send-off, he played and sang solo ahead of their immanent journey to Canada for their last few tour dates. The band seemed in very solid control of their material, newer and older, but didn’t let that ease undercut the directness really necessary to bring their message and sound across in an urgent way. It would have been easy to imagine that this was one of their earliest tour slots rather than one not far from its conclusion. That necessary edginess had been preserved. 

Dollar Signs made for an excellent touring counterpart for Bad Luck and vice versa because even though their musical styles are pretty radically different, their level of commitment in live performance is similarly “all in” and made for a high-energy conclusion to the evening. Dollar Signs might be called Punk without as much danger of restriction, but they are also very indie, very influenced by pop culture, and very much proponents of the earliest, DIY aspects of the term. Their unmistakably sunny attitude was immediately supported by surfy guitars and they hardly paused for breath once underway. 

Dollar Signs actually opened with their “Hearts of Gold Finale” from their latest 2021 album, Hearts of Gold, and led into full-blown rockers that definitely had the audience jumping. Banter included commentary on their already long tour experience, predicting “scurvy” from poor dining habits along the way. Surprise add-ins included the theme to “The Office” (American version), and TMBG’s theme to Malcolm in the Middle, and an Eminem reference. 

They complained that they have “no consistent vibe”, but that did, in fact, seem to be the vibe, a kind of joyous consumption of musical and thematic options that carries the positivity of staying in motion. Concluding with their 2015 song, “I Hope I Don’t Fuck This Up” didn’t seem at all jarring, either, which suggests that they’ve made room in their eclecticism even for their own back catalog. 

*Apologies to Taking Meds, we didn’t manage to hear their set on the night of May 21st

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