At Sunday night’s benefit show for the American Civil Liberties Union at Northern Liberties’ Ortlieb’s, Francisville-turned-Fishtown shoegazers The Virgouts finally found their match, opening for fellow Philly-gazers Starterjacket. Formed in Spring of 2016, The Virgouts, up until this point, were more or less an outlier on their bills, having shared the stage with a disparate variety of acts including switchboard electronica at The Fire, and their placement on Saturday night’s skatepunk showcase at south Philly spot The Pharmacy.
Consisting of guitarist/vocalist Rashad Rastam, bassist Nick Schon, and drummer Ryan Lohbauer, The Virgouts combine a rather unworn list of ingredients to set their brand of shoegaze apart. For one, Rastams’ethereal guitar washes are starkly contrasted by Schon’s surging, fingerpicked basslines that employ no effects. On Schon’s contributions, which display a slick, jazzy influence uncommon in shoegaze at large, Rastam assessed that, “I’m pretty sure that like if it wasn’t for like the basslines we’d be fucked.” Lohbauer also showed awareness for the whole being greater than the sum of the parts, recalling that “[The Virgouts have sometimes] been practicing [when] Nick’s not around, and it’s like ‘what is this?'” Adding to the sense that no cookie-cutters were used in the making of this music are the vocals, as Rastam opts for a raw, punk-seasoned delivery that helps one imagine what it would be like if Sick of It All were not so sick of it all. On stage, the sound-synergy becomes immediately evident, with set opener “Oversized” likely to induce closed eye visuals of a cyberpunk thriller’s obligatory, deleted snowboarding scene.
Still, although their stage act is power-packed, for the time being The Virgouts are among the countless artists whose available recordings leave the energy of their live show substantially uncaptured, making it imperative to see them live for the full effect. Fortunately, this should soon be remedied, as two new releases are on the way for 2017, including their Deaded EP and a yet to be titled full length album. Regarding Deaded, Rastam shares, “it’s gonna’ be a six song EP for sure. The songs that [we played] tonight are going to be on the EP. We recorded it last year, then I moved to Queens so it got a little tied up, but we’re gonna’ put it out this year for sure.” Though it will be directly preceding the album, the EP is slated to contain entirely separate material from the full-length, adding value for listeners. “Our new record’s like gonna’ be 10 to 12 songs. It’s 50% done. We wanna’ put out the EP first though”, elaborated Rastam on the forthcoming releases.
Having just found their way into the Philly’s thriving shoegaze scene, the trio has yet to gain much of a following, but 2017 looks promising with all that is in store, and showgoers owe it to themselves to see The Virgouts while they can still get to the front with ease.