All my photos contain the backs of teenagers. Thus, I cannot help you out with my own visuals when I talk about this great show I saw last night at the Frederick Church of the Brethren. The kids were just too into the show to make good photography possible.

I can understand why Reilly, a unique and innovative band out of Philly, had the house dancing (Even this cute little lady in her 60s rocked out with the words to every song.). They’re signature element, at least to most listeners, is the dualing violins that Noele and Dan Huie bring to life on stage. For me, the thing that holds their music together – besides their tight sound and obvious musician-ship – is the lyrics (you couldn’t see that choice coming from a writer, could you?)

In “Beautiful You” John sings, “I look at the horizon underneath the glowing moon. I’m gathering starlight and whispering prayers to you. I was hoping she could be the one; she stole the words right off of my tongue. And I never wanted to pretend I’m someone else instead.”

These words lay out over complex but solid guitar lines, pushing bass, kicking drums, and those great violins and gives Reilly a clean, fresh sound that, at the same time, sounds a bit like something you think you’ve heard before – a little of what music is supposed to be, perhaps.

Before the show last night, Reilly gave me the honor of interviewing them, and I can say these guys are fun – really fun. Our conversation ranged from ferrets to Bangladesh to stories of how Dan wooed his wife into the band (I believe the line was something like – “I like your bow.”). At one point, Dan pointed out that Evie, his and Noele’s 3-month-old daughter, pooped. What a great interview.

When I asked them about how they came to be a band, they told me that they had met through Campus Crusade. They were all college students at a variety of colleges in Philly and New Jersey, and they came together at the Campus Crusade house to hang out talk and, apparently, play music at 3am. . . . Sounds alright to me.

Their musical tastes are broad: Noele aimed high when I asked who they’d like to tour with – “Coldplay” she quipped. The guys asked her to “aim higher” – “The Beatles, posthumously” was her response. The others mentioned Death Cab for Cutie, Sufjan Stevens, Leeland, Switchfoot, Mute Math, (John threw in Spin Doctors and Blues Traveler, too), and of course, the small, unpopular group, U2. And you can hear a little bit of these influences in their music; I even caught a little of that “Hook” guitar line; maybe John wasn’t joking about Blues Traveler.

These guys are really stepping out and living the dream this year. Come June (an apt time given that their latest album is called Let June Decide) they are all quitting their day job and going on the road to see if they can make this music thing work for me. John said that they would like to “do this full time” with a “lot of dates” to keep them working. Matthew added that they’d like to find balance and keep their families a priority. As John said, they love meeting fun people and they’d “like to connect with these people again and again” as they tour.

And if my raving about their music hasn’t sold you on why you should listen to these guys, let me tell you what their favorite books are:
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
Reason for God by Tim Keller
Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Safely Home by Randy Alcorn
Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella (Kyle, the drummer’s pick, which he apparently left in Dan and Noele’s car, causing them to think a 14 year old had left it there. Don’t worry, Kyle. The book looks good to me, too.)
and anything by C.S. Lewis. I knew I loved these guys.

So check out Reilly. Help them rock into their dream of music. Support them as they live into their lives more fully. Buy a CD, see a show, sport a T-shirt. . . and enjoy the loveliness that is Reilly.

The Reilly Mixtape
“Ode to Butterfly” – Nickel Creek
“Weird Fishes” – Radiohead
“Anberlin” – Fin
“Polaris” – Jimmy Eat World
“Holy Ground”
“Glory Bound” – Martin Sexton
“Wolf Am I” – mewithoutYou
“Chicago” – Sufjan Stevens
“Brandy Alexander” – Feist
“Life Boats” – Snow Patrol

P.S. Dan Huie would be, if given the chance, a spider monkey named “Mindy.” I’m not sure where that came from, but it had to make it into the review, right?