Vacationer’s set during Philly Music Fest on Sept. 27 acts as an unofficial, yet serendipitous celebration of their new album that releases this Friday. “Wavelengths” is the band’s fourth studio album, but takes the group in a new direction as their first instrumental record. Philly Music Fest attendees will be the first to hear some of the new album performed live during the band’s show at World Cafe Life on Friday night. The festival brings more than 20 local bands to three venues this weekend for a concert series that gives back to the music community. For Vacationer lead singer Kenny Vasoli, the festival is just one example of how Philly music keeps thriving.
Vasoli sat down with Metro to discuss misconceptions about instrumental music, balancing different performance styles and what makes Philly’s music scene so unique.
Vacationer to hit the stage for Philly Music Fest and release their new album “Wavelengths” this Friday
What was the drive to do make an instrumental album?
To me, the craft of beat-making is really fascinating. I’m getting into a routine of making a lot of beats really often and really sharpening that tool, which helps me get to know production in a more intimate way. I love being able to scratch that itch. Being a bass player has come in handy with this process because you can dictate a lot about where a tune is going to go with the bassline. The beauty of instrumental music is the hypnotic property. It doesn’t demand your full attention, but there are loops, twists and turns that form dynamics that make you want to listen. This album is like a little variety pack of what I make in my music rooms.
You’re balancing playing and performing both pop punk with The Starting Line and softer psychedelic rock with Vacationer. What are the two different performance experiences like for you?
It feels like playing two different sports, like playing football and then playing frisbee. I get a lot of satisfaction by doing both, but I can’t play pop punk the way I do as much anymore. I realized I couldn’t keep up with jumping off drum risers and blowing my voice every night, so I’m aging with Vacationer. It’s like my retirement plan. I had the idea when I was listening to bands like Beach House and the whole chillwave movement, and realized that you don’t necessarily need to go to a level 10 for every show. Seeing LCD Soundsystem perform was also a big awakening for me in how to command a crowd’s attention and inspire them to move while performing at a level 3-8. It feels like you’re floating into outer space.
“Wavelengths” releases on the same day as Philly Music Fest. How did that end up working out?
It’s actually a great coincidence. I’m not great with keeping track of dates, so I knew we booked the festival, but we were also deciding on a release date. We want to do right by Philly Music Fest and put on a great show, so I’m really glad we have these new songs to incorporate into our set. The festival contributes to the music scene by raising funds for education programs and keeping venues afloat, so it’s a wonderful project.
How has Philly’s music scene evolved since you started playing here?
Philly is a good place to nurture innovative music and I have a theory. Philly is different compared to LA or NYC because we aren’t in competition with the music industry here. It’s a little bit of an outlier because we’re in competition with each other and I think it’s really healthy. For my band and my friend’s bands, we always wanted to outdo each other, but we were also big fans of each other. There’s so much music here that’s born out of pure originality. Think of [festival co-headliner] Man Man or The Roots. There haven’t been bands like them ever again. Instead of looking at what’s popular or tearing up the charts, we have our community here, and I think that’s continuing with newer bands like Hop Along and Joy Again. It’s just crazy and innovative fresh music, and I’m excited by that.
Catch Vacationer and other Philly bands during Philly Music Fest through Sept. 28. Visit phlmusicfest.com to check out the full lineup and buy tickets.