Live Review: Rat Fancy, Philadelphia, PA, Nov. 15, 2019

Bearing catchy, peppy indie-rock tunes like “Never Is Forever” and the title track of highly appealing debut Stay Cool (Happy Happy Birthday To Me), Rat Fancy wrapped up its tour at Ortlieb’s in Philly with a short-yet-sweet set before flying back to its home base in Los Angeles.

But between playing tasty guitar lines and singing alongside frontwoman Diana Barraza (who I’d last seen playing in Sweater Girls at the 2011 Athens Popfest), Gregory Johnson never let the crowd forget that, for him, this was truly a homecoming—reminiscing about how lucky he was to attend Norristown High School; recalling how his dad had taken him to Ortlieb’s back when it was a jazz club; singling out the many friends, family and former bandmates who comprised most of the audience; and issuing a blanket apology for this being his first time back in two and a half years.

Hopefully, the thoughtful, as-yet-unreleased “M.A.D.”—inspired by gatherings with family for the holidays, of all things—was a hint that Rat Fancy will have ample reason to return soon with enough new material to stretch out with a longer set.

Locals Buddie, Broke Body and Fake Nudes opened the show.

—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich