Baltimore’s ‘A Cool Stick’ returns to its roots

In more ways than one, ‘A Cool Stick’ has some blunt lyrics. Their song “Hippie Girl” tells of a fantasy conjured by frontman Luke O’Brien about eating psychedelic mushrooms at an outdoor music festival and doing drugs with two beautiful Bohemian girls.  

And these guys are the monthly resident musicians at the Grape Room in Manayunk for the rest of July. Their next performance will be tonight at 8 p.m. Expect to hear brazen hip hop lyrics supported by a drummer, guitarist and bassist who play a mix of indie rock and soul and who all share an ear for improvisation and jamming, says O’Brien.

“I think a big part of our group is we do hip hop over a live band,” says drummer Brian Aranda. “We pride ourselves on our ability to improvise and create on a high level.”Phoenixville natives O’Brien and Aranda conceived ‘A Cool Stick’ while studying at Loyola University since the group’s inception in 2009. Along with the addition of bass player Matt Wong in April, Aranda says the band has more time to rehearse together now than they ever had in Baltimore. ‘A Cool Stick’ is currently recording an EP at the Milk Boy Recording studio in Ardmore throughout most of August.

If the chemistry is right, O’Brien says they also welcome other musicians to join them on stage and jam at the Grape Room.”Our live sound is a major part of the band,” says Aranda. “I think taking that approach to the residency is a good way to keep people on their toes.”

Aranda says he wants his band to eventually land bigger shows at the Trocadero and the TLA, but regardless of where, audiences will see the band enjoying themselves on stage when they play.

At one of their previous shows at the Grape Room, O’Brien says he knew most of the crowd except for one older man who danced manicly and hit on the girls for their set. So for their last song, the band invited him on stage to dance with them. Another show had them play an extended jam with some of the people in the audience who played guitar and emceed.Tonight’s show at the Grape Room offers $2 Miller High Life bottles for a $7 cover. The opening act is ‘Pidgeons Playing Ping Pong.’ 

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