Wilbur
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Wilbur

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2008 | SELF

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2008
Band Folk Pop

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Jul
29
Wilbur @ The M-Room

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

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"DEEP CUTS: WILBUR"

The rehashing of the Weezer sound is certainly not what we hear in Wilbur. That said, many of the dynamics that made early Weezer great translates over to Bueno Para Ti. Come on back down to Earth, this is Deep Cuts.

Without accelerating to the same level of intensity as others, Bueno Para Ti brings a comfortable structure to their own brand of rock music that exceeds the modern expectation of personality. Tracks like “Cool Kid” and “Drop Out” pack in soulful melodies that resonate not in the heart, but in the gut; that same place where your drunken 4am munchies find themselves sitting alone. While a track like “Sophomore Petunia” lands at the bottom of your feet causing, at the very leas, a head bob from the ground up.

For what it’s worth in rock music today, Bueno Para Ti brings emotion. It’s not that there’s sorrow laced within, but rather that there seems to be a level of realism within the lyrics that define a moment or time in a personal journey instead of a group as a whole. Listening to the latest EP from Wilbur, you get the feeling that you’re listening to something profoundly intimate that’s been accidentally given out to the public. You can’t help but feel like you’re supposed to go back and hide the record in their room where you found it, hoping that they won’t noticed you ever took it in the first place.

Bueno Para Ti is a success for this very reason. It’s intimate. It’s animated. It’s intensely judicial with the ability to distinguish between moments of pop greatness and moments of rounded musicianship. This compositional harmonic clash is a beautiful thing that straddles all six tracks from start to finish. - The Wild Magazine


"Wilbur bridge neighborhoods in three-part “Rittenhouse Suite”"

Local trio Wilbur‘s new recording “Rittenhouse Suite” spins the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet into a (less tragic) modern day, Philadelphia-centric story set to an indie pop score. At its center, the composition is a witty vignette tracing the trajectory of a relationship between a ritzy Rittenhouse Square resident and her more bare-boned West Philly suitor. But it’s the band’s lyrical execution that really draws you in, a style that pops up in all of Wilbur’s recordings and that was described by The Key’s contributor Sameer Rao as ”self-effacing and equally-prompt punchlines.”

I would add that another of Wilbur’s endearing quirks is their lightly-humorous self-deprecation, as heard in the opening line of “Rittenhouse Suite.” Singer / guitarist Simon Tangney calls out “Yo Miss Rittenhouse, I wanna show you a good time / You oughta know that this low life does like you” before suggesting they grab forties at a deli on 43rd Street. Getting right to the over-arching theme of the suite, Tangney picks up on the cultural divide that is a 40 oz. bottle of malt liquor. The track continues with numerous golden lines, like “I don’t know, I won’t ever be rich / these arms ain’t built for holding jobs” and “No I don’t condescend because we don’t pick our friends / we just choose where we hang / and honey I’ve been hating rich kids ever since I was a rich kid.”

Atmospherically, the song’s first two parts would fit well within the roster of Brushfire Records – they’re breezy, warm and raw with reedy drums and comforting acoustic guitars. The third part picks up the pace with singer Kieran Kriss taking over on vocals and adds some electric guitar, resembling early Ra Ra Riot or Vampire Weekend with its playful arrangement and guitar melodies. Matt Bevilacqua fills up the subtly rich low end with both upright and electric bass throughout the song. Take a listen to the premiere of “Rittenhouse Suite” below, and get the full history of Wilbur in this interview - The Key


"New Track: "Violet" -Wilbur"

Below is a new, heartwarming little ditty from Wilbur just in time for Valentine's Day called "Violet." It serves as an introduction of electric guitar and bass by the band as well as drums played by Howe Pearson (Big Tusk). The track was recorded at The Boom Room, and mixed and mastered by Max "Prime" Morgan at SoundButter Audio. Wilbur will be performing next in Philly on Friday, February 21 at Connie's Ric Rac. - The Deli Magazine


"Philly-based Wilbur evolves into catchy folk band"

Long Island friends reunite in Philadelphia and form a comedic folk band
Philadelphia band Wilbur includes Matt Bevilacqua (left), Howe Pearson, Simon Tangney and Kieran Kriss.
Philadelphia band Wilbur includes Matt Bevilacqua (left), Howe Pearson,… (DAN LIDON, CONTRIBUTED…)
August 01, 2014|By Taylor Farnsworth, Of The Morning Call
From Long Island to Philadelphia — three 20-something childhood friends reunited and formed a band in the City of Brotherly Love.

Matt Bevilacqua, Kieran Kriss and Simon Tangney played together in Long Island. They all moved to Philadelphia about two years ago for work.

"We all grew up within a mile of each other and played in bands in high school," Bevilacqua says. "Our style of music was drastically different back then."



In the 2000s, screamo and emo were very prevalent genres — Taking Back Sunday was big at the time — and that's what the trio was into. Now, as Wilbur, they play folk and country music with catchy, pop-influenced lyrics with a little bit of comedy.

"When you leave puberty, I think you outgrow that scene," says Tangney, rhythm guitarist. "I think I wouldn't point to Long Island as any sort of influence on the music we make today."

Once they moved to Philadelphia, they began playing as many open mike nights as possible to gain recognition.

"It's not like walking into a room and suddenly being part of the music scene as much of it is of slowly pulling a sheet off of a statue," Tangney says.

They played from Fishtown to South Philly, at bars that included Fergie's on Sansom Street and Ray's Happy Birthday Bar on Passyunk Avenue.

At one point, the three showed up at Ray's Happy Birthday Bar on the wrong night. That marked the beginning of a residency of sorts for the band at the bar.

"We're starting to feel more established [in the city] and not like total guests," Tangney says.

Wilbur transforms simple folk to much more on tracks such as "Rittenhouse Suite," with the lyrics "Honey, I've been hating rich kids, ever since I was a rich kid," and "When Yer Able," with the lyrics "I think of you like I do new shoes, you'll be comfortable in time."

Songwriters Kriss and Tangney create lyrics that reflect on life as 20 somethings, but in a lighthearted way. They are also influenced by pop radio, thanks to time spent in Kriss old Chevy, which had no CD player or tape deck.

"Speaking to the evolution of the band, it kind of grew from this country blues thing to a tighter, not simpler, but the chords actually got more complex, but perhaps more accessible kind of music," Bevilacqua says. "If a part is unnecessary, we'll take it out."

Bevilacqua plays bass; Kriss, lead guitar. Drummer Howe Pearson joined the band earlier this year. All four sing.

Wilbur is working on an EP with an expected release of September and has plans for a full length album. - The Morning Call


"Wilbur share the love with new song “Violet”"

Wilbur‘s new track is a classic song-about-a-girl, just in time for Valentine’s Day. This time “Violet” has captivated the narrator with her “fifty dollar grin” and tendency to “say the wrong thing.” The comedic / folk trio channels some sugary pop vibes on the song, making it short and sweet but still bright and warm enough to let you forget the snow and wind lingering outside for a couple of minutes. Check it out below and learn more about the local outfit in The Key’s profile here. Following last week’s big show at World Cafe Live, they’ll be playing at Connie’s Ric Rac on February 21st; tickets and information can be found on the Facebook event page here. - WXPN: The Key


"Wilbur: The Power of Three"

Three guys, three friends and three music lovers. A standing bass, an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar. The power of three seeps into the inevitable creation of the band Wilbur.

But who or what is Wilbur?

"We want to conquer one city at a time. Wreak havoc and move on," Kriss laughs.Wilbur02It’s not to say that they had an identity crisis but after playing under random names for each show in their hometown, the bandmates decided they needed a regular name. Wilbur became the default, the new fabric of their identity.

“Wilbur came out of nowhere,” Kieran Kriss says with a laugh. “I think Simon (Tangney) threw it out one day. He went through this period where he just liked different names and things, like Frankenstein.”

The band started when Kriss, Tangney and Matt Bevilacqua were around 16 and growing up in Long Island. They used to play “really shitty emo music” together. Growing up within a five-block radius of one another made it simple for these three to get together and vibe but as they got older, distance became a problem.

“We kind of scattered,” Kriss, 23, adds. “Simon was in Alaska, Matt was in DC and I was in California.”

They all wound up in Philadelphia and the rest has been history.

They try to represent themselves in an honest way and their music has been that continuous lever.

“I think that we bind to the notion that if you’re honest and you try to represent yourself in a genuine way within your music,” Tangney, 22, notes, “that goes a long way in terms of producing a decent product, something that you can show people.”

Give them a time and place and their melodies will make your heart dance. Their three-piece setup allows them to make music wherever the opportunity presents itself.

“The three-piece is part of this idea of a strip down mentality where we could literally pick up and play pretty much anywhere, you know?” Tangney shares. “The idea is to have a sort of sound that is extremely transferable from an audio setting to a live setting and having there be no gap in between them.”

The young band also relates to the idea of immediacy and illustrates music in a way that focuses on lucid but relevant growing points in life.

“We are trying to write music that grabs, holds and keeps your interest,” Tangney says. “We are trying to maintain a give and take within the creative process. No one really ends up carrying the brunt and everyone can put themselves into it.”

As friends and as musicians, the most important aspect that Wilbur wants to portray is a true identity, one that encompasses the band and its array of personalities. They want to do good for themselves and then being able to do good for others.

When asked what they want to achieve, almost in unison, the three answer, “We want to write good songs.”

“We don’t want to be superfluous at all,” Bevilacqua says. “If we lose your attention for a second then we haven’t done our job. We put a lot of ourselves into what we do but we don’t want to create an ego. We don’t want to solo for too long or repeat something for too long. We say what we have to say. Its just us. We don’t want to be too serious and we don’t want to be too blasé either - JUMP Philly


"The Intimate Stylings of Wilbur"

A week after the big show, Simon Tangney, guitarist and singer for Philadelphia-based trio Wilbur, was candid. “Your initial question was, how did you feel that night?” he said. “And the answer is, ‘Like the happiest dude on the planet.’”

The big show — a five band showcase on Nov. 21 at the Boom Room, a recording studio and performing space in Philadelphia’s Fishtown neighborhood, that attracted an audience of almost 100 — was something of a surprising success for the group of Rockville Centre native sons. Tangney, 23, had only been in Philadelphia since the beginning of 2013 — as had his fellow guitarist, Kieran Kriss. The group’s bassist, Matt Bevilacqua, started the trend, moving down in 2012 to begin a career in journalism.

“I’ve been in Philadelphia for two years, but Simon and Kieran moved down [this year], and we were essentially a new band in a new city with very few contacts,” said Bevilacqua. “So we began by signing on to open mics, and meeting people who knew two or three of our songs, and they might tell somebody who might show up, and … we slowly met people and built this network here.”

The show was a rousing triumph long in the making. Tangney and Kriss began playing together as early as 2003, when their first band, Stereo Therapy, played at the annual talent show at South Side Middle School. About a year later, Bevilacqua joined Tangney and Kriss in Monsters in the Armoire, later adding guitarist Greg Wyler and an ever-changing member in the drummer slot. Soon after, the band changed its name to Wilbur.

“The three of us have been playing together since we were about 14 years old,” said Tangney. “And it lends itself to, but still at the same time hampers the productivity. Because as soon as you’re in a band with somebody for an extended period of time, it’s like you know them a little too well. You’re able to question them a little bit too precisely.”

The group worked together consistently until 2008, when its members went to college. A couple of years later, Tangney, Kriss and Bevilacqua began playing together again, and it became clear that the band would perform as a stripped-down unit, scrapping the standard electric rock setup in favor of a three-piece set-up: Tangney on acoustic guitar, Kriss on electric, Bevilacqua on upright bass — and lots of harmonies.
“I guess what I’d say is, when you look at the development of Wilbur, not a lot of it is actually based in Rockville Centre,” said Tangney. “A lot of it had to do with the time that we spent on our own. For instance, Kieran is up in Rochester then out is Los Angeles, Matty B’s in D.C. and then Philadelphia, I’m in West Virginia and then Alaska and whatever. So I think a lot of our ability to work together in a productive manner is based on these diverging experiences that we had, and some way trying to make them overlap.”

The songs themselves reflect what Tangney jokingly called the group’s “multiplicity of experience.” Wilbur’s recent demo, Like Dumb, was recorded by Philadelphia producer Max Morgan — a five song affair touching on musical styles as wide-ranging as blues rock, bossa nova, indie pop and Appalachian folk. Bevilacqua pointed to the band’s give-and-take method of songwriting as the source of its inventiveness.

“The songwriting process begins with the kernel of an idea that we all nurture, and we cut it up,” said Bevilacqua. “You would call it collaborative…. And everybody sings now, too, so that’s changed things up a bit since the way we used to write songs, even back in college.”

Tangney agreed, adding that a bit of friendly competition, too, is intrinsic to the writing process.

“When you feel like you’re being held to a certain standard by the people you play with, it does nothing but improve the quality of the work you’re spitting out,” he said. “I feel good when I make a joke when Matty B. laughs, and I feel good when I make a lyric and Matty B. laughs. A lot of the process has to do with impressing the people you’re close to.” - LI Herald


"Meet Wilbur: The biggest band in Philly comedy"

The bloodlines of American comedy and music have been intertwined as long as they’ve been art forms. From vaudeville to variety shows, these two types of performance hit upon the most fundamental human truths.

Both forms also stand to learn tremendous amounts from one another. Many musicians can learn not to take themselves so seriously, to not put on airs that that threaten to be exposed at a moment’s notice. Likewise, comedians should always strive to be intellectually curious and explore every avenue possible for new material. Both forms grow when performers don’t pander to the lowest common denominator, yet keep themselves in check enough to not get lost in their own pretensions.

Occasionally, great performers come along to marry the two into something great, or at least entertaining. The Rat Pack, Cheech and Chong, Flight of the Conchords, Eric Andre…well, let’s not get too far into what constitutes genius (that’s another piece entirely).

But even with our city’s certified comedy and music credentials, the marriage of forms has somehow not taken off. These worlds remain consistently separated, to the point that even my saying “Kurt Vile-Chip Chantry Collaboration” might perplex you in any number of ways, depending on who you are: I don’t know who “x” is…should I? Would that combo work? What would it mean? Where do I start Googling?! (By the by, I’m formally claiming all credit for whatever collaborations this comment inspires).



Spend any amount of time with the three young men in Wilbur, and you’ll start to see these worlds for what they’re intended to be – in constant lock-step, part of the same organism that keeps regional scenes afloat and thriving. Their exceptional musical talent, played out in three-part harmonies over folk- and bluegrass-inspired guitar lines and songs that beg for audience sing-a-longs, is only part of an equation that requires a form of communicative transparency (a comedic hallmark, often more than a musical one).

But like any responsibly self-aware creatives, these whimsical folksters are not particularly heavy-handed about their mission. Over greasy fries and infinite amounts of black coffee at a deserted Fishtown diner, the early-20s trio of longtime friends play out their general mission in tangents, afterthoughts, and – naturally – jokes that underscore their core tents with sincere (if sometimes muted) enthusiasm for being able to share what they do.

Even their name – innocuously specific, possibly bovine – came about in the sort of haphazard way that great band names arise.

“It’s kind of like naming your band “Steve,” explains singer-guitarist Kieran Kriss.

“It became a thing of ‘Our band name is Wilbur, until we can think of something better,’ and we never did…I’m still trying to think of a better band name,” adds fellow singer-guitarist Simon Tangney, laughing.

The commitment to that name possibly has its roots in the poignant moments in which it was formed. Kriss and Tangney, along with singer/upright bassist Matt Bevilacqua, grew up together in Long Island and played in various bands as teens. The current incarnation of Wilbur is only the newest one, having initially began while the members were emo-obsessed teens, playing out a deep love (like we all did) for Long Island bands like Taking Back Sunday. Their music back then is understandably difficult to find, yet Philly’s incarnation of Deli Magazine awarded them “Artist of the Month” a few months ago, they managed to link viewers to some of those older, more-angsty tunes – a decision that the members still find hilarious.

The approximate-decade since their post-hardcore origins has seen them disappear to different corners of the country (during which Tangney trekked to Alaska and Arizona, hopping a train at least once) and eventually reconvene a year ago in Philadelphia, where the members moved around and held down every assortment of jobs while making a name for themselves. These circumstances, often involving tight and temporary accommodations, helped inspire their current, mellower sound.

“That came out of necessity. These were just the instruments that we had, and the instruments that we can play,” says Kriss of their current setup.

Their years of camaraderie have also inspired the collaborative nature of their songwriting and presentation. “This is the first iteration that we’ve had of us playing together where three-part harmonies are such a central feature. We’ve all had a hand in singing, all had a hand in writing melodies, all had a hand in writing lyrics,” says Tangney.

“I think that so much of what we write about…it’s a little revealing and a little embarrassing. So if I were to come to the table with people who I’m not as close to, it would be unbearable,” says Tangney, adding “It’s painful looking at yourself objectively, no matter whether or not you’re a doctor or a bum or a waiter. But I think that writing songs requires you to do that more than any other profession…looking at yourself is hard in any context, but having to do that repeatedly is especially difficult,”

And what of their lyrics? What could they possibly sing about to make comedians (some of the hardest people to make laugh) rapt with hypnotic glee, show after show? With some of their lyrics coming from admittedly emo roots, they display a lot of what good comedians consistently try communicate – self-awareness that can be so vulnerable and disarming that the best response comes from a room full of people getting it and promptly laughing at their admissions.



A song like “Philadelphia (Christmas By Myself)” is especially indicative of these sentiments. Exploring one seminal crisis of young adulthood, in which the protagonist risks alienation and opts to spend Christmas away from difficult and catty family before realizing that risks yield greater rewards for self-actualization, Wilbur encapsulates the anxiety of real-life situations that catapult so many young Americans into states of equally-matched joy and euphoria. Their delivery is so upfront that, timed with the inherently-pleasing structure of solid pop-folk hooks, they manage to make audiences laugh along to stories that are immediately relatable. Imagine a set filled with songs like these, interspersed with self-effacing and equally-prompt punchlines, and you’ll get a sense for why they’re the best band in Philly comedy.

“I’m not sure if you’d find that among musicians and comedians in general, but I think that the manner in which we approach presenting ourselves…it could reach some pretty dark territory, but it’s always with a wink, and it’s never isolating. It’s always kind of inviting,” explains Bevilacqua.

The people that they’ve invited into this space have included industrious local comics like Robert Ecks and Chris O’Connor, both of whom have hosted some of the open mic nights where Wilbur played their first gigs. “I wouldn’t want to reduce what they do to calling it shtick, but the Wilbur three certainly have a unified comedic voice that is genuine. I think comedians particularly like Wilbur because they don’t exaggerate the serious nature of their songs about love and family,” says Ecks.

Some of their connections have also helped them with videos like their Christmas special – a deranged holiday revue-meets-altered-Creation-story. From these early shows began a series of relationships that led to more gigs at comedy showcases and an enveloping sense of community that also seen Wilbur’s fan base grow significantly.

This was evident at a “Friendsgiving” show during mid-November at Fishtown’s Boom Room, a rehearsal and recording studio that doubles as a cozy two-tiered venue. An eclectic mass of 20- and 30-somethings packed the venue for an equally-varied lineup including hip-hop/soul ensemble Halfro and Connecticut-based jazzy-rockers Lady Hips, going in hard for each act.

Their upcoming show at World Cafe Live promises to be a similar affair, but with one notable addition: the release of their song “Violet” as a Valentine’s Day single (with electric instrumentation, recorded at the Boom Room). But for a band that’s just as comfortable playing in friend’s living rooms, the sense of familiarity is key. This duty to bring everybody into an entertaining yet completely personable headspace, rooted in a moroseness that yields unexpected joy at a moment’s notice, ultimately make this band a comedic and musical act to take seriously…if you can stop laughing. - WXPN: The Key


Discography

like dumb 2013
Christmas By Myself 2013
Violet 2013
Rittenhouse Suite 2013
Bueno Para Ti 2014

Photos

Bio

Wilbur is a four-piece band originally from Long Island, NY. After going their separate ways after high school, Simon, Matt, and Kieran all found themselves living in Philadelphia and began writing music together again. In 2013, they released their first EP, like dumbrecorded live over two recording sessions. Since then, the trio was joined by drummer Howe Pearson (Big Tusk), and the foursome released three well-received singles and will release a second EP titled Bueno Para Ti in 2014. This band has gained a very loyal following in both Philadelphia and New York and are looking to play both inside and outside of their comfort zone. 

Band Members