(photo courtesy of artist)
Avenue Eight are, to quote a certain music mogul, truly “OTHER”. Boasting a ten man lineup (!!!) of young Philly-area students, Avenue Eight demonstrates ambition within their music and their career. The members are: Matt Coakley (keyboards, vocals), Franco Giacomarra (bass, vocals), Justin Toto (guitar), Stefano “Fano” Giacomarra (drums), Felipe Ranjo (auxiliary percussion), Ossi Onu (backing vocals, percussion), Matt “Fitz” Fitzpatrick (trombone), Murphy Agger (trumpet), John Gabrys (trumpet), and Joe Gilbert (saxophone). They have drawn up a laundry list of accomplishments as of late. This January, the group had the opportunity to open for rising pop star BØRNS at Fordham University’s Winterfest. They were recently one of the four finalists selected from over a thousand submissions to perform at Rock On Philly’s annual “Battle of the College Bands”, at the sold-out Hard Rock Cafe Philadelphia. Currently, Avenue Eight is putting the finishing touches on their debut album, slated for release early this summer.
Self described as “funky indie pop”, it’s hard to pin down an artist that Avenue Eight is directly derivative of. When listening to their single “Days to Come”, dozens of possible influences come to mind. The song harnesses the giddy optimism popularized by contemporary indie pop acts like Walk the Moon or Los Wombats, but has instrumentation more similar to third wave ska bands like Streetlight Manifesto or Goldfinger. Franco’s vocals are reminiscent of the traditional “pop punk accent” pioneered by Tom DeLonge; but the rest of his band produces grooves in the vein of soulful combo acts like Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats or The Heavy. It seems Avenue Eight shoots for this confusion. According to their Bandcamp page, they “derive inspiration from lots of different genres and as a result our songs end up going in many different directions.” Their main mission statement? “We really just want to have fun and get people dancing.” Judging off of “Days to Come” alone, Avenue Eight is succeeding in that goal.
In the days since the legendary Prince has passed, many of his past interviews have recirculated online. In an interview with The Guardian in November 2015, he aired some of his complaints about modern music. To paraphrase, his biggest laments were the proliferation of similar-sounding rock acts, and the lack of technique amongst contemporary musicians. In a sense, Avenue Eight is the answer to both of these problems. Avenue Eight could have easily been your average college rock band with a few novice guitarists and a drummer. Instead, they decided to shake it up. Each member is incredibly talented with their designated instrument(s), which is apparent immediately during the first listen. The fact that they have ten guys and include a horn section is a statement in itself!
Avenue Eight never wanted to be your standard rock act. Their career may be young, but Avenue Eight is a special act that fills a sonic void within the current music landscape.