Philadelphia local and TUC fan favorite Great Time kicked off their new tour last night at the famous World Live Cafe in Philadelphia. A rising artist in the Philadelphia music scene, the electric trio of Jill, Donnie, and Zack (with live performance-newcomer, Grayson) make for perfect harmony amongst the Philadelphia city lights. Great Time last played at the WXPN Music Festival last month, but last night marked their first show back since a global pandemic left the music world struggling. True Urban Culture was in attendance as Great Time marked their unofficial return to live shows. The show and atmosphere carried well into the Philadelphia fall night as the fading lights of the skylight dimmed.
First and foremost, opening act R&B singer/songwriter Jasmine Cassell set an incredible tone to carry throughout the first hour. For a venue named “The Lounge,” a very small but quite homely jazz-inspired space, Jasmine Cassell channeled that feel to speak softy. Her voice, strong but something of Mother Nature style to it, commanded a poetic aura from the audience. Jasmine played a few select tracks from her 2018 Seven R&B/jazz-inspired album. Her band stood under the glow of the stage lights looking out across an entranced crowd. With the pleasure of being front row, I couldn’t help but stay glued to the stage (sometimes not quite hearing my server next to me) as Jasmine broke out into angelic “Let Me In.” Her demeanor and presence were that of a warming willow tree. After her performance, I was able to chat it up with Jasmine which further confirmed her on-stage presence.
With such a warm opening act, Great Time took to the stage to offer up seconds of feel-good. The band dove right in grooving and hyping up the crowd. Jill, Great Time’s lead singer, showcased her multi-talented master class of instruments skills from her trademark flute to closing the show with a sax. The common thread throughout the night was Jill’s work on distorting her voice into high and low vocal ceilings. Through the music, Great Time traverses 80s sounds with “80z Slo Jam” and “Flour Glass” to a more mature, futuristic R&B searching sound with “Starr.” As the night wore on, their performance became more rockish, showing an underground early 2000s rock show. The best part of the show came from the band’s return to the stage after the crowd began to shout encore.
Great Time nosedived into a fan favorite, and a personal favorite of mine, “Rah’n Tah’n Kregg.” One of their more rocked back tracks, Great Time made sure to end the night on a great note. As the song progressed, I became fixated on Donnie’s drumming and Zack’s bassist playing. While Jill sang the vocals, of course, it was clear who was building the song’s climb to that climatic solo ending. Donnie drumming can only be described as a man possessed, attacking each beat with a caveman-style murder, in a good way. Grayson and Zack backed the drumming with their reminiscing of Jimi Hendrix guitaring. If not for the 3 vodka cranberries in my system, I could have joined in what was clearing a mini mosh pit forming in front.
When the city and industry slowly coming back, Great Time has shown the pandemic did nothing if not increase their talents and hunger for more. Earlier this year, Great Time released their first two EPs in their Sounds Like ___ series. Plagued by early questions of needing to define their sound, Great Time took it upon themselves to answer in their way. Each EP is unique and different, but retains that Great TIme signature sound. After last night, Great Time is set to touch down in Boston tonight in their next stop on their tour with Brooklyn and Burlington set to follow.
You can find more on Great Time’s touring here.