Salt Lake City alternative rock band The Backseat Lovers performed at The Fillmore Philadelphia Friday, May 31 on their Waiting to Spill World Tour. The tour is named after the band’s most recent album “Waiting to Spill,” which was released Oct. 28, 2022. The band consists of lead singer/guitarist Joshua Harmon, lead guitarist/vocalist Jonas Swanson, bassist KJ Ward and drummer/background vocalist Juice Welch. The venue was packed to the brim, with people on the floor spilling towards the doors, and people on the balcony as well. Excited chatter settled over the crowd as fans eagerly anticipated the band’s performance.
The opener, indie folk artist Field Medic, took the stage at 8 p.m. as a three-piece band. He started his set with “i want you so bad it hurts” off his 2020 album “Floral Prince.” The trio continued to play songs such as “mood ring baby” and “FULL GROWN.” However, the set was halted multiple times in order to help people in the crowd who were in distress. The last three songs of the set had to be stopped three different times.
Field Medic’s twangy, acoustic style of music is not commonly associated with unsafe concert scenarios. After his set ended around 8:45 p.m., a staff member at The Fillmore made an announcement that people over 21 could be upgraded for free to the venue’s VIP balcony area due to the rising heat and overcrowding of the General Admission floor section. The staff proceeded to give out wristbands for the upstairs area to people in the 21+ bar area in the lobby of the venue. The Fillmore states a 2,500 person capacity online, but does not specify how many people the GA floor alone can fit.
The Backseat Lovers took the stage at 9:06 p.m., opening with an intro jam that faded into “Know Your Name” from “Waiting to Spill.” Red lights engulfed the stage as Harmon shredded on the electric guitar, feeding into the crowd’s energy. The band continued to play the songs “Pool House,” “Growing/Dying” and “Heavy,” all of which are from separate releases. The band currently has two studio albums titled “When We Were Friends” (2019) and “Waiting to Spill” (2022), along with one live album recorded at the Troubadour in Hollywood, CA on Sept. 17, 2021. They also have one EP from 2018 called “Elevator Days,” and two standalone singles from 2019 and 2020 titled “Just a Boy” and “Heavy” respectively.
It is worth noting that guitarist Swanson was not wearing shoes during the set, instead showing off his space-themed socks to the crowd. Each member of the band wore comfy clothes that seemed appropriate for an early, outdoor festival campground. The stage was covered by large carpets, and featured a minimal set design that mostly consisted of backlights and large, colorful LED strips that shuffled through movements during the show. A sole, red neon sign read “WAIT” to the right side of the drum kit, and the kick drum was illuminated with a warm hue that gave off a moon-like image through the calftone drumhead.
At one point the band members took a break and Harmon performed the song “Address Your Letters” from the band’s 2018 EP by himself, drenched in a spotlight. When announcing the track, he referred to it as the “sad boy song.” In traditional ballad performance fashion, people in the audience waved their phone flashlights to the song and a somber vibe settled over the crowd. It was an intimate moment that contrasted with the show’s loud, full sound, and Harmon nailed the chorus of the song, showing off his impressive vocal range.
Following this he stated, “Alright you goofy goobers,” and the band dropped into their trademark song “Kilby Girl.” This is by far their most streamed song on Spotify with currently over 236 million plays. The song’s chorus also became popular on TikTok, increasing the overall popularity of the band. Harmon could have gone without singing the chorus, as everyone in the venue was shouting along with electrifying enthusiasm. The hit song is fun and infectious, featuring an instrumental outro that outperformed its recorded version live in concert.
Later in the set the band performed “Slowing Down,” a more eerie song that eventually progressed into a nearly ten-minute long jam. A visual of a drawn airplane flying through the sky appeared on the stage screen while a red spotlight settled over Harmon. Following this they would play fan-favorite “Maple Syrup” and EP track “Still A Friend” before leaving the stage through deafening applause. The audience clearly wanted more, and began chanting for “Sinking Ship,” the closing track of “Wish We Were Friends.” Within a minute of leaving the stage, the band reappeared.
Harmon said to the crowd that his voice was nearly shot from their long touring this year. Beginning on April 18 in Vancouver, the Waiting to Spill North American tour had been going for twenty shows before landing in Philadelphia. While according to Setlist.fm, the band usually plays two encore songs each night, Harmon opted for one: crowd request and routine encore song, “Sinking Ship.” There was a fleeting moment before the last chorus of the song where the stage lights fell away, and Harmon was illuminated as he sang gently, before launching into the high energy end of the song.
The U.S. leg of the Waiting to Spill Tour comes to an end on Aug. 2 with a final show in Portland, ME. After their Maine show, the band can be seen this summer at Lollapalooza in Chicago, IL (Aug. 3-6), the Osheaga Festival in Montreal, QC (Aug. 4) and Endless Sunshine in Denver, CO (Sept. 8). This band’s talent, passion and emotion is what will get them far in the industry, and have them selling out even bigger venues on future tours.
Setlist (according to Setlist.fm):
Know Your Name
Watch Your Mouth
Address Your Letters
Out of Tune
Close Your Eyes
Still a Friend