BEING THERE: Minor Alps @ World Cafe Live


Juliana Hatfield and Nada Surf’s Matthew Caws brought their collaborative acoustic project, Minor Alps, to Philly for an eminently entertaining show at World Café Live Friday night. The duo is touring in support of their excellent and critically well-received debut album Get There, which successfully blends ’90s alt-rock with Everly Brothers style harmonies. They took the stage armed with just their acoustic guitars and a small mellotron-style keyboard that Hatfield occasionally jammed on. This duo doesn’t need extra equipment, their magic is in how perfectly Caws and Hatfield’s voices mesh. Live and on record, Caws’ strong sweet melodies wrap warm and snug around Hatfield’s soft, beautifully bruised vocals to create something special. Their set consisted of a handful of songs from their debut album mixed with various songs from their past lives and a couple of surprise covers. Early highlights included dark new rocker “Far From The Roses” and Hatfield’s “Live on Tomorrow” with a stinging acoustic solo from a kneeling, rocking Hatfield. The middle of the set brought the loudest audience responses of the night with back to back blasts from the past. First up was “Out There” from Hatfield’s beloved first band, Boston alt-rockers The Blake Babies. Caw’s and Hatfield’s vocals wrapped around each other and their guitars sang in sweet unison to create a memorable performance. Next was a heartbreaking version of Nada Surf’s “Inside of Love” that spotlighted Caws’ prodigious singing and songwriting skills. The funniest moment of the night came late in the set. While Caws pondered how many times he had played Philly and the beauty of the disco ball hanging in the middle of the room, a hunched over Hatfield made like Hetfield. She launched into an impromptu, solo acoustic version of the intro to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” that brought a chuckle and a small appreciative roar from the crowd. One surprise cover was an impressive, grounded version of Robyn Hitchcock’s poetic and dense jangle-pop classic “Airscape.” Late in the set they played a chugging and chiming “I Don’t Know What To Do With My Hands,” revealing it to be their best song. They encored with an Everly-Brothers-on-speed version of “When Will I Be Loved” and a beautiful take on Nada Surf’s “Fruit Fly” which featured the duo adding percussion to their performance by rhythmically slapping their guitar bodies and plucking their strings in perfect harmony.  — BY PETE TROSHAK