“Where in the hell is District N9ne?”, I thought as I ventured out to Philly. I literally thought that I had hit every venue that Philadelphia had in my gallivanting of the many shows I have attended – of course I was wrong. District N9ne is normally booked for electronic shows with other genres sprinkled in. A big venue with a lot of ground to cover. On this particular night, I was photographing for Flyleaf. Throughout their history, there were many songs that I took a liken to (“I’m So Sick”, “Cassie” to name a few). Since the induction of new leader singer, Kristen May, I wanted to see if there was a notable difference in the band and how May performed.
On this night; while there were not a large collection of fans, they were loyal. All ranging from teens to middle aged people who had probably been following the band since their inception in 2002. Even with a change of singers, the loyalty still remained. Starting off, we had a southern rock band from Georgia named Lullwater. Kudos to them – they played a very energetic and southern rock drenched set. Lead singer/rhythm guitarist John Strickland‘s raspy delivery permeated throughout District N9ne while lead guitarist John Strickland provided grit through his solos. The crowd seemed pretty receptive to it as I didn’t see many people leave and wander through the set.
After some time, Flyleaf came out to cheering and whistling. There was an echo in the venue, so I’m pretty sure you heard that through the adjacent doors left of the stage. Guitarist Sameer Bhattacharya and bassist Pat Seals literally flew around the stage as they opened up with “Fully Alive”. I’m talking jumping up on the metal platforms and guitar swings. It was pretty cool to see that they were still spry playing these songs. Kristen May‘s vocal delivery was all in her own. I know that the Lacey Strum comparisons were going to come, but May injects her own essence into the band. During “Cassie” she jumped on the fan barricade and was singing the lyrics with various people. She was BEING Kirsten May who can hold her own singing live and had a little fun doing so. Not to say that Flyleaf had lost their edge, but there was different aura of likability that was refreshing – maybe even brought some new fans.
As they performed older songs and their newest songs from Between The Stars, I realized that I was watching a band moving on. The original band members lost their founding singer and May lost her original band, but there was a comfort zone that had developed. They set their mark with previous albums, but with a new direction music wise; the band still has the same heart.
Flyleaf Set List:
Set Me on Fire
All Around Me
I’m So Sick
So I Thought