By Sydney Shaw
Weller capped off its 10-day tour at The Stanhope House in Stanhope, N.J., on Friday, May 27, alongside fellow Philadelphia-based headliner Cayetana, ROMP and Toy Cars. They played with an infectious energy, laughing with each other as they delivered a set largely based around their new EP.
You never would have known that five days earlier, the trio was stranded nearly 700 miles away in La Porte, In.
“We got here via the most cursed tour we’ve ever been on,” singer Harrison Nantz said.
En route to Chicago from the band’s show in Pittsburgh on Saturday, May 21, Nantz said their van started smoking — a blown transmission was to blame.
As midnight was steadily approaching, and after struggling with roadside assistance, Travelodge’s public relations team and Enterprise, the band was able to secure a hotel room for the night. Tour Manager Emily Dubin called it “a tour of worst case scenarios.”
Things began to look up for Weller on Tuesday, May 24, when the band stopped by Futureappletree Studio in Davenport, Iowa, to record a session with Daytrotter, a website dedicated to featuring up-and-coming indie music acts.
“It was unbelievable,” Nantz told The Signal. “We got to play some really cool gear.”
One 14-hour haul in a rental van later and Weller was back on the east coast. The band kicked off Friday night with “Record Breaker” from its new EP, “Career Fair.”
“Tried to grow up without you / Realized there were still roots left under the tree,” Nantz sings on the upbeat track. He has a knack for combining honest and deep-reaching lyrics with light and catchy melodies. On the same song, he sings, “‘Cause I seek out the things I like / But settle for what I need.” This new EP could launch Weller onto a larger stage as its lyrics become status updates.
After the first verse of “Record Breaker,” drummer Jeremy Berkin builds tension with powerful double hits on his set, spaced out by Nantz’s delicate guitar playing. Berkin, who already cemented himself as a good drummer during his soundcheck, rounded out “Ford Credit” with vocal harmony, while Evan Moorehead commanded the stage with expert bass playing.
Aside from being a pleasure to listen to, it was a blast to watch the guys in Weller perform. For a band that said its collective favorite thing is memes, it makes sense that the trio radiated charisma. All three have distinct personalities that shine through on stage. Nantz, for example, told The Signal after the show that he loves Goodwill stores. According to Nantz and Dubin, Berkin’s favorite thing is Federal Donuts, a chain of shops in Philadelphia that sells coffee, donuts and chicken.
As for Moorehead, he and his band mates called out his passion at the same time: history. His love for the subject was evident even earlier in the evening. Before Weller’s set, Moorehead reached up to touch the ceiling of the venue — circa 1794. “This is a real tin ceiling,” he said, beaming. “That’s a big deal.”
It’s refreshing to be around best friends who know each other as well as they know their instruments.
“The other day, we talked about how if you say ‘I love you’ too often, it loses its meaning,” Nantz told the audience. “But I really do love this band.”
No one captures their engaging dynamic better than Dubin, who doubles as the band’s photographer. She filmed, edited and directed the music video for “Record Breaker,” which premiered two days before the start of Weller’s tour. It kicked off with a show in Boston on Wednesday, May 18, alongside Massachusetts’s own Born Without Bones.
The members of Weller are multitalented musicians. Moorehead also plays bass in Broken Beak and Slaughter Beach, Dog, and guitar for Steady Hands — all three bands feature members of Modern Baseball. Berkin is the singer in Plainview, a pop punk quartet formed at Drexel University.
Their tour might be over, but Weller’s EP is available on the group’s Bandcamp.com page. “Career Fair” is an energetic first release for such a young band, so here’s hoping for a full-length album in the near future. With good friends and great music, there’s no telling where the trio will go next.