Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Dan Croll played to a cozy, welcoming crowd at Union Transfer on April 20th. The line-up promised a variety of unique takes on pop with an emphasis on quality songwriting and production and it certainly delivered.
Scavenger Hunt, a relatively new duo from LA (though the producer of the group is a Philly native), started things off on a pleasant note with their sleek up-beat 80s sound. Though the duo is clearly talented, they seemed to be still at the stage of learning how to work with each other on stage. Their music connected with the crowd on singles ‘Dreamers’ and their big hit, ‘Lost.’ Those around me could not stop talking about the charisma exuded by the female lead, Jill Lamoureux.
Panama Wedding has been in my ears since seeing them at CMJ this past October. They continued the upbeat mood of the night with their synth-heavy pop that is woven equally between all four members. Their set has the crowd swaying form hip to hip. The final song of the set was by far their best. Smashing though their hit single, ‘All of the People,’ you could feel the band and crowd’s energy elevate within the opening line of synth. It was a memorable send off for Panama Wedding and the perfect introduction to Dan Croll.
Clearly a live music veteran, Croll made his way onstage amidst the tribal harmonies of Ladymith Black Mambazo and his backing band as they introduced his indie-pop cover of the group’s ‘Hey My Baby.’ That familiar Dan Croll sound came charging through on acoustic guitar and the roll of the drums. He adapted the normally accapella style track to fit his intimate storytelling style and jam packed chorus.
The show continued with spurts of Dan Croll’s typical dry British humor timely placed between polished performances of all the of the tracks from his full length, Sweet Disarray, moving smoothly through deep album cuts like “Must Be Leaving,” “Wanna Know Where You Are,” and “Only Ghost.” The Dan Croll fans are singing along with every word and everyone has begun the stereotypical indie-pop head bop, lean and sway.
The hopeful, artfully-crafted songs of the young Englishmen delighted the crowd, especially when he got to previously released singles. Croll noted that his mother only disliked one song off the album, the R&B based ‘Can You Hear Me,’ as it delineates from Croll’s particularly poppy sound. The song was a mid-set high point as Croll traversed the stage, away from regular position at the mic stand and his guitar, delivering the inquisitive lyrics of discontentment in dreamy falsetto over the boom of the bas drum and guitar.
Ending on the endearing power of Croll’s first-ever single, the show wrapped up with a lively, up-tempo version of the quirky ‘From Nowhere.’ That beautifully designed moment of anticipation of the guitar slide just before the chorus hit harder with every go as it worked against the grooving bass guitar while Croll’s high pitched vocals soared the seductive, “Every night I fall a bit behind, every time I stare into your eyes.”
The Philadelphia crowd was not big enough or familiar enough with Croll’s music to make an effort to cheer for an encore. Though the lack of attendance was admittedly due to it being a religious holiday, it was disappointing to see that such a talented musician wasn’t appreciated in that normal show custom. But, I’m sure that Croll will be back again soon to an even bigger crowd as more people discover the inventiveness of his multi-instrumental, genre-crossing, pop.