One thing is for certain upon meeting Holidaysburg's singer and guitarist Rob Weddle: He'll be ridiculously nice to you and will offer you, a stranger, a beer. When you ask drummer Larry Fulford for a joke, he will oblige with, "Where did the general keep his armies? In his sleevies." When you tell him that you heard that joke in elementary school, he'll shrug and tell you he just heard it, although you won't be entirely sure if that's the case. Guitarist and keyboardist Jay Friedman may pick up an accordion, start playing a Decemberists song, and then tell you about the Chunky soup that's waiting for him at home. Bassist Justin Shupe will tell you that he unabashedly loves Buddy Holly.
This is a band that's awkwardly proud that they recently pissed off an entire crowd of people by playing too loud at an Adobe Gila's. "They were all eating fajitas," Fulford says. "And they loved their fajitas so much that we all wanted some, too."
You won't find rock stars in Holidaysburg. No flashy clothes. No boob-flashing teenage groupies. These guys don't even drink good beer. They are four of the most average guys in the world playing old-fashioned rock & roll.
Before this incarnation, members of Holidaysburg had circled throughout each other's bands since their teenage years. By the time Weddle was in his mid-20s, he realized he wasn't the angry punk rock kid he had been in previous bands. He began to miss the atmosphere in which he grew up in Maryland, where he felt comforted by the lazy melodies of Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. He met up with some of his former bandmates and formed Holidaysburg. Within the past few months, the group added Friedman, singer and guitarist of the sadly defunct Landing on Land.
These days, the band plays two different sets: the blisteringly loud, bombastic Southern rock set and the quieter, drinking-beer-with-friends on a lazy Sunday afternoon alt-country set. Either set is a terrifyingly good thing, but their louder set leaves audiences crippled yet somehow desperate to hang out with them on their front porch. The alt-country bit is a more recent development. In early 2005, the band was approached to do an acoustic set, which they had never done before. "We tried turning down the bass and taking out the fuzz, and we saw that we could do the songs in a simpler way," says Weedle. "We realized that we weren't confined to any one sound. We could sound mellow on the back porch or really loud."
The band recently released their first full-length album, A Better November, recorded in Gainesville with Rob McGregor at Goldentone Studios. The disc sounds like a combination of their two contrasting sets, including both the toe-tapping hums and the thrashing singalongs. The album itself is packed with songs about love, friendship and the benefits of hindsight. Certain songs evoke a could-have-been feeling but maintain hope that, with another swig of Pabst, the future will look brighter.
with Midas in Reverse, Kool-Us
8 pm Friday, Oct. 21
Natura Coffee & Tea