WILLIS brings their Groovy Nashville sound to Philadelphia | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

WILLIS brings their Groovy Nashville sound to Philadelphia

Photo by James Biernat | The Triangle

WILLIS, a Nashville-based indie rock band, made a stop at Milkboy in Philadelphia’s center city as a part of their spring 2024 tour. They were joined in Philly by Chicago rock band Friko, who opened the show. 

The band formed in Florence, Alabama, where the five members all attended high school together. Since 2016, WILLIS has released three EPs and two albums, the first four titled “Locals” 1-4, followed by their April 5 release “I Can’t Thank You Enough.” The band’s sound, although labeled indie rock, mixes in a true southern blues sound, as well as a surf rock vibe that makes for good summer listening. 

On the night of the show, the narrow upstairs venue of Milkboy was packed from front to back, and the concert-goers were immediately dazzled by opening act Friko, whose frontman Niko Kapetan set the energetic tone for the evening. From his passionate vocals to his impressive guitar work (including a guitar switch midway through their final song, “Get Numb to It!” Friko got the crowd moving and amped for WILLIS, who followed shortly after. 

To begin their set, WILLIS lead vocalist and bassist, Murphy Billings, instructed the jammed crowd to “Kick your feet up, and have a good time,” a sentiment the band would reiterate the entire set. “It’s sick bro, [Philadelphia] is super historic,” Billings said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all the sellout crowd’s sexy faces dancing and singing along to my lyrics.”

The band played a good blend of songs from their new album, “I Can’t Thank You Enough,” as well as a mixture of tracks from their previous albums. Following their first song, Billings introduced his fellow band members, telling the crowd to say hello to each with a different adjective. The crowd really began moving with the band’s new song, “Try Again,” ; afterwards, Billings fittingly pronounced it “sick.”

Later in the set, the other band members’ musical skills were put on full display, highlighted by a fast-moving guitar solo by Edward Armstead, who would bring his energy to the crowd when he hopped off the stage and into the sea of fans. 

Towards the end of WILLIS’s performance, the band played their iconic tune, “I Think I Like When It Rains”, and Billings prompted all in attendance to sing along. As the song continued, Billings shouted the iconic line, “Kick it Will,” which Will O’Steen followed with a synthesizer solo that is familiar to many. “I Think I Like When It Rains,” grew to fame as a popular sound on TikTok, and has amassed over 150 million streams on Spotify.  

WILLIS’s fun blend of easy-listening tunes and impressive instrumental indie rock made for a high energy set that sent the Milkboy crowd home happy.