Karina Rykman at Milkboy
photo: David Avidan @synchronisticlyserendipitous
Karina Rykman came correct to her first proper show in Philadelphia, and the City of Brotherly Love responded in kind. Decked out in a T-shirt of Princess Di in an Eagles jersey, Rykman’s onstage banter included a “Go Birds!” In turn, the Philly crowd sold out the show three months ahead of time, and the bar at Milkboy served All That You Wanted, Foam Brewing’s limited release Double IPA named after a song from Rykman’s debut LP, Joyride. Members of the Philly music scene, including the Disco Biscuits’ Jon “The Barber” Gutwillig, also showed up to support Rykman, a rising star.
The band kicked off the show with Joyride’s ethereal title track. Guitarist Adam November, armed with a pair of Line 6 DL-4s, a Digitech Whammy, and a variety of other stompboxes and racked effects, delivered his takes on the leads recorded by Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who produced Joyride and played on several tracks. The band stretched into a jam, where Rykman’s improvisations highlighted a musicality that can easily be overlooked in the face of her charisma and energy level.
The band played another pair of tunes from the new album before playing a pair of older jam vehicles: “Dirty South” and “City Kids.” Her vocal delivery in the latter evokes Tina Weymouth’s singing on Tom Tom Club’s “Wordy Rappinghood,” and while it might be tempting to compare the two bassists, Rykman’s playing at various times sounds more like Mike Gordon, Oteil Burbridge, or Tower of Power’s Rocco Prestia. With that noted, the band played an excellent cover of Tom Tom Club’s “Genius of Love.”
From there, the trio graced the Philly crowd with a cover of “Springtheme,” a seldom-played-anymore pre-Chocolate and Cheese song by Ween, the New Hope, PA-based band whose bassist, Dave Dreiwitz, features prominently in Rykman’s origin story. The band played more originals, including “Fever Dream,” “Run of the Mill,” and the total dance fest that is “No Occasion.” They also wove in a number of excellent covers — Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper,” boygenius’ “Satanist,” and Blur’s “Song 2,” the band’s encore — and teases like Radiohead’s “National Anthem” and Mary J. Blige’s “Family Affair.”
November’s guitar work and loops complemented Rykman during songs and improvisations, where the bassist demonstrated precision and technique, whether picking or slapping and popping. Drummer Chris Corsico and his drilled cymbals rounded out the indie power trio, which brings an energy similar to early Rush and the Police and stylistically runs the musical gamut from Soulive to Courtney Barnett.
Rykman and her band are definitely worth checking out, surely at a larger venue the next time they’re in Philly.