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Concert Review: The Paranoyds Rockin' In Philly
by Charlie Pecorella

On Saturday, February 24th, 2024, fellow DJs Rachel from Impulse Control, Jenna from The Great Escape, and I (of Snoopy Waves) trekked to Philadelphia’s own Union Transfer in pursuit of The Paranoyds, a grrrl powered garage rock band from Los Angeles, California. In January, we were offered the life-changing opportunity to bear witness to the sheer force wielded by this band as they opened for The Kills, a popular rock band that we had previously not heard of. Additional accommodations such as a post-show interview and press pass rocked our core. A Paranoyds fan since high school, I thought back to the several times The Paranoyds stopped in nearby cities, and regretted not catching previous shows. I would not make that sorry mistake again.

Rachel, Jenna, and I fueled up on fresh Mexican salsa, blends of cheese, rice, and veggies as we committed to crossing state lines. We shared stories teeming with laughter, swapped questions about each other’s lives, talked through our interview plan, tried on camera lenses, and streamed The Paranoyd’s latest EP, I Like It Here, which came out on October 27th, 2023. Like many college radio DJs, we bonded while unearthing band obsessions from our teenage years, some of which we continue to stand by, others not so much. We arrived outside the chilled will-call early, and warmed up in a local record shop nearby, before returning to Union Transfer with lines stretching to the street corner. As quickly as we slid our licenses to the lovely person at will-call, we received our paper tickets and slipped into the single-file.

I had never seen Union Transfer so packed, from wall to wall and above on the balcony, fans rocked with anticipation at The Kill’s impending return. We chatted with another fellow rocker, before Jenna dove into the photo pass pit for The Paranoyds’ set. This was my first time hearing The Paranoyds perform their angst-ridden, tongue-in-cheek tracks live, and after committing their memories to melody over the years, I was awe-struck by their set. The Paranoyds is charged by an impenetrable, nearly life-long bond between best friends Laila Hashemi (keys/vox), Lexi Funston (guitar/vox), and Staz Lindes (bass/vox). When their drummer David Ruiz joined nine years ago, his energy miraculously matched theirs instantly, solidifying their four-piece punch. 

The Paranoyds operate in sync, propelling visionary ideas on stage and in studio. Their opening song, fittingly titled face First, launched a sonic storm over the crowd – the bass rumbled into the drums, the drums roared as guitars flashed electrifying riffs. I tried to maintain control of my body, but within my organs lurched against the sick tunes. I looked over to Rachel for a moment, and noticed that she, too, was no longer in a crowded concert venue, but in a blissful space cleared only by creative genius. 

Though I knew The Paranoyds’ passion could not be amply transcribed over video, I couldn’t help but discreetly lift my phone up to capture my favorite song by them, “Heather Doubtfire''. That track, along with “Freak Out” and “Rat Boy”, originally surfaced on their groundbreaking 2016 EP After You, and were re-imagined on their recent LPs, where the band sounds surer than ever. The Paranoyds stand apart from their contemporaries in terms of confidence. As they charged through their set, honoring their classics and latest, it was fun to trace their stead-fast sound back to their earlier days and notice how brilliantly the band continues to build on their grungy, garage rock sound with throwback horror synths, and whatever else they decide to throw into the mix.

After their set was over, Rachel, Jenna, and I huddled over to the merch table to meet their tour manager, who weaved with us through a crowd of restless fans to The Paranoyds’s greenroom. Their green room was no bigger than a closet, but we all made ourselves comfortable. Staz graciously offered me a strange mineral water drink, and no I would not try it again, but I was so thirsty and curious, I could not refuse fancy green room water. Rachel and Jenna fastened the camera to its tripod, as I secretly panicked in the presence of one of my favorite bands. I was about to ask them the questions that pounded against my beating heart for as long as I’d listened to their music – years ago, when I scoured my high school best friend’s Bandcamp discography. It turned out that Heather Doubtfire was not entirely what I thought it was about, and that touring across the country with your best friends can be more treacherous than you may ever imagine. Keep your ears to the ground for our forthcoming interview with The Paranoyds, only on 90.3 The Core!