Buzz: Tweed Moving Up The Mountain

By Veronica Rajadnya

Tweed is the independent funktronica outfit taking its place among the modern jam band greats. Born of an affinity for Philadelphia phenoms the Disco Biscuits, Lotus, and Brothers Past (then-University of Delaware students AJ DiBiase [guitar, vocals] and Joe Vela [drums] met at a concert in Atlantic City featuring all three), the colorful quartet rounds out with Jon Tomczak (keyboard, vocals), and Dan McDonald (bass, vocals) to make moves with its celebratory brand of improv rock, disco, and funk.

Most recently, their moves included grooving right into last week’s artist lineup drop for Camp Bisco, the pinnacle summer music festival hosted by them boys, the Disco Biscuits, which once again takes place this year at Montage Mountain in Scranton on July 14-16. With slots at Some Kind of Jam, Disc Jam, Unity Festival, and a number of East Coast venue shows in the months to come, Tweed is, among many other things, very, very busy.

Playing out a solid string of dates up and down New England, including two days running with local powerhouse Lotus at Union Transfer and a takeover of Triumph Brewing Company, Tweed is also finishing up their highly anticipated 2019 release, Moves, the follow up to their 2016 EP, The Chunky Life.

All the while, the electronic instrumental foursome is carving out time to offer its Tweedlings (members of their community fanbase) a festival of their own. SENSORiUM Music and Arts Festival, hosted for the last two years in Philadelphia with this year’s location returning to The Ukie Club on Franklin, not only features a curated music lineup of big names and local greats, but live, interactive performances, art installations, local food and craft drink vendors.

With a homegrown, DIY sensibility and an infectious fusion that jams at once distinctively and accessibly, the origin story of the Tweed moniker itself very much speaks to that. Reportedly, the band still needed a name during Vela’s junior year of college in 2010, and a good friend said, “You know…. I’ve been saving this name for a while. Let me lay it on you: Tweed. It just rolls off the tongue. I don’t know what it’s for.”

It stuck. Now, the band will joke that Tweed is an acronym: “Time Wizards Eating Electric Donuts,” but that would come much later. Inspired by the scene and driven by fans, Tweed engages a community of music and art enthusiasts which they find new and expanding ways to reach. So much so that the band finds their fans reaching back.

For example, recently released is a fan-made, interactive 360° virtual reality music video for the song “Big Sky,” a fan-favorite. Created by Matt Buelt of Colorado’s Virtual Worlds 3D, the VR universe combines claymation and computer animation to create a visual invitation to the song’s center of having an open, limitless place to roam, and the experience of being “free to fly.” You can view and move around in the video via band’s Facebook and YouTube pages; a VR headset is recommended for the full experience.

Getting signed or represented by a label is often the aspiration for musical outfits and bands, as this is what helps to drive exposure and gain the resources artists need to do what they do. But as demonstrated by Tweed, an unsigned band, it’s just another version of a team, of a community, of a collective of talented people bringing your magic to life.

“There are many obstacles to being an independent artist, but the advantage is that we are creating genuine content that is authentically ours, and the interactions with our fans are authentically ours,” says Vela, who also operates under his own electronic music project, Bad Leather. “We invite anyone with a desire to be creative to use our music as a spark of inspiration, and whatever you want to create, please put it out there and share it with us!”