Glocca Morra at the Black Cat

Philly indie-rock band Glocca Morra plays backstage at the Black Cat in DC. Photo: Glocca Morra

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2013 — “How are things in Glocca Morra?” That popular song about a fictional Irish town from the 1947 Broadway musical “Finian’s Rainbow” somehow inspired the name of the four piece band from Philadelphia that performed here recently at the Black Cat. Beyond that tenuous connection, though, the band known as Glocca Morra doesn’t seem much concerned with whether their audience knows much about this connection or not.

The main impression Glocca Morra created during their recent performance was an attitude of total irreverence, and that’s ultimately the most important thing to know about them.

When Glocca Morra was on stage backstage at the Black Cat, they never gave the impression that they were totally present in the here and now. This might have been distressing to some, but it might part of this band’s peculiar appeal. Like their casual public persona, the nature of their music also seems inherently loose.

Several times during their set, the band would stop and discuss playing a few more songs for the crowd. The first time this happened was directly after their second song of the evening. Which was rather an odd thing to say as they proceeded to checking with each other and then realize they had just started their set. Bands try to appropriate this kind of loopy attitude all the time. But it either comes off as a joke shared with the audience, or an early signal that everything they do on stage is tongue-in-cheek. 

Glocca Morra is neither joking around, nor can they be confused with a band that’s overly serious, or even a little serious. They are simply a band that’s content to play their garage rock songs and worry about the details later. It’s the kind of ad lib show where there’s no pressure on either the band or the audience. The band performs as if everything they play and everything they do concludes with a shrug. It’s not that they don’t care – something their general attitude might imply. But the energy their style gives off is strictly casual.

This attitude actually makes more sense once they start play through their set. It appears that in the universe Glocca Morra occupies, the only bands that exist are Cap’n Jazz and Braid. Glocca Morra creates a high energy, stripped down sound that incorporates elements of Midwestern emo and poppy hooks that are re-interpreted with an off the cuff looseness and quirkiness.

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Each song they play also incorporates a certain amount of sonic distortion shaped with hints of melodic intent, all of which comes across as if the band is slightly unhinged. It seems as if they wouldn’t be totally surprised if someone’s guitar string broke mid-set or if one of them suddenly kicked in the bass drum. All this unpredictable craziness is constantly occurring on top of vocals that seem on the verge of cracking after every note.

But that seems to be the point with Glocca Morra. They bring on stage all the energy and fun of a newish garage band that’s just messing around and playing with friends. Then, they redirect this loose, manic energy and camaraderie it at the audience, inviting them all into their club. 

Which is a really appealing idea. Everyone should want to hang out with Glocca Morra for a night.


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Stephen Bradley

Stephen Bradley is an avid music listener and an occasional writer.  He grew up in the Washington DC area and has been embedded in the local music scene for years.  Currently he lives in Vienna, VA.   He enjoys bands that have been broken up for at least a decade.

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