American Aquarium / Tommy Prine – The Foundry – Philadelphia, PA – 12/8/21

Closing out the year with a short East Coast run, American Aquarium stopped at the Foundry in Philadelphia and played a hell of a set for a Wednesday night. For this leg of the tour, opening the show was Tommy Prine. If it wasn’t known before his set by the 5th song Tommy introduced himself and with a smile said, “and you may know my Dad, John Prine.” For about forty-five minutes Tommy Prine played his own original songs that gave great insight into his personal life, but also played a few covers including two songs originally by his father. It was touching before he played “The Late John Garfield Blues”, he said, “anytime I want to talk to my Dad I just put one of his songs on and I can figure out what was going with him.” Majority of people can’t do anything like that, but Tommy is lucky to have an extensive library to turn to. Being a musician when your parent is a famous musician may be big steps to follow, some, like Jakob Dylan, found a way to carve their own future and Tommy Prine is right there also.

First and foremost, what I am about to say may be disagreed with or even be told straight no, but this is my observation and I am sticking with it. I have been following American Aquarium since Things Change, I know, late to the party, but ever since then I have bought every new album right away and helped crowd fund the last two albums. However, this was my first time seeing American Aquarium live. What I observed is BJ Barham’s stage presence, and I personally think he is the Henry Rollins of alt-country/rock n’ roll. At certain times the way BJ looked at the microphone he looked like he just wanted to punch it so hard, not with a fist, but with his words. When he delivered his lyrics he had such an emotion behind them that you hear it on the album, but to hit that emotion each time live, only a few musicians can do that. I have never seen Henry Rollins perform with a band, only his spoken word, but I’ve seen videos and that captivating stage presence is seen in BJ when he performs live. Agree or disagree, I am sticking with my observation. As for everything else, American Aquarium as a band is a machine, playing for about a hour and half with some story telling in between songs, you can’t get a better show than this. For the amount you pay for their show, you are getting your money’s worth and then some. As for the setlist, being someone who has never seen them live, this setlist hit every spot. From “Tough Folks” to “Wolves” to “Burn.Flicker.Die”, at this point they could’ve played any song and I would’ve been happy. Their performance alone is enough to see this band really puts in 110% in their live show and for someone that goes to a lot of shows, this band is at the top of the game. There is no one I know of that I can compare them to, and I can go through their entire setlist and explain how each song went, but I won’t. What I rather have someone do is just go see them live like I did. Don’t watch videos or even read other reviews, just pay the $20 dollars and just see American Aquarium. Even if you think you don’t like anything with a slide guitar or a little country, one stop thinking like, if you see American Aquarium live you will leave going that was one hell of a band.

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