The Shivers, Rob Grote (The Districts) & Hand Habits

First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia

Story by Allie Volpe


On Friday, we welcomed Hand Habits, Robbie Grote from The Districts and The Shivers to the First Unitarian Church for an intimate performance in the side chapel. With hushed tones and emotional depth of the solo performances, the sacred space became a sanctuary for musical catharsis and discovery.


Meg Duffy, who performs as Hand Habits, opened the evening with ambient guitar compositions, crafted by elegant layering and effects. Playing tracks off of her upcoming album, due out early next year, Duffy created mesmerizing soundscapes topped by melody-driven pop songs. Duffy’s knack for crafting eloquent and descriptive lyrical scene was topped only by her mastery over her instrument, producing full, lush arrangements that suited her soprano vocals.


Robbie Grote, frontman of The Districts, filled in for The Dove and The Wolf, whose performance was cancelled due to illness. Serving as an opportunity to share new material from The Districts, Grote displayed a compelling array of never-before-heard songs, deeply profound and revelatory. Drawing on the keen observational style of their earlier work, this new collection delves deep into the self-consciousness of societal existence, the overpowering devotion of love. Closing out the set was a delicate cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel” to wrap the acoustic performance.


Using the pulpit as a keyboard stand, Keith Zarriello of The Shivers added some comic relief to the evening with sweet odes of love and vivid depictions of mental clarity while camping alone in Utah. Zarriello’s guitar work dazzled with Americana and blues influences, delicate finger picking creating an all encompassing sound.

Thanks again to Art In The Age and Dock Street Brewery for providing the beverages -- and to you for spending your Friday night feeling the feels with us.