Live Review: Gully Boys, Sonder Bombs, Noera, Philadelphia, PA, Oct. 26, 2021

Sometimes you see an up-and-coming band that sounds so massive that you wonder how long it will take for them to be inescapable. From the moment Gully Boys struck the first chords of “The Way” at PhilaMOCA, they played like they were headlining a festival in a city where they rule the airwaves rather than hitting a brand-new town on a Tuesday night.

Racing through most of the songs from this year’s Favorite Son EP plus a few from 2019’s Phony and 2018’s Not So Brave, the Minneapolis band laid down brawny riffs and big beats with melodic vocal hooks and energy to match.

There was no filler and no weak links, with drummer Nadi McGill and bassist Natalie Klemond locking in the rhythm and frontwoman Kathy Callahan rocking on vocals and guitar. And from where I stood, touring member Emily Schoonover (of Bruise Violet and Bugsy) wielded her guitar with a sense of power and authority that was irresistible.

It was all the more impressive because they did it almost entirely on borrowed instruments after losing their van and most of their gear just before leaving for this tour, but onstage and off, Gully Boys seems unlikely to let a setback like that slow them down.

Philly’s Noera was a solid opener, expanded from the emo-tinged solo project of Prudence Delilah to a moody quartet, with “Obelisk” being a heady highlight.

Closing the show was Cleveland’s Sonder Bombs, who were gleeful to play songs from Clothbound in the city where they recorded it. Electric ukulele is an unusual choice for lead instrument in a punk band, but Willow Hawks made it seem completely natural. It’s all a blur, but one that felt focused in the moment.

—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich