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Moor Mother Goddess, Hot Tears and Callowhill jangled and crunched at Boot and Saddle

Callowhill | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Callowhill | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

The unusual warmth of Wednesday gave way to waves of music insight at Boot & Saddle. Three Philly artists graced the stage — Callowhill, Hot Tears and Moor Mother Goddess (with the latter joining the bill after Brooklyn-based The Shondes could not make it) — and gifted art to the ears of the midsized and enthusiastic crowd. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Sikich’s top five Philly concerts of 2015

hopalong
Hop Along | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2015 incredible. Today, Key photographer Chris SIkich recaps his five favorite concert photos of the year.

Sleater-Kinney, Union Transfer, February 28

From the first notes of “Price Tag” from their masterful 2015 No Cities to Love to the electrifying finish of “Dig Me Out,” Sleater-Kinney proved once and for all that they are the current greatest rock band on the planet. Carrie Brownstein shredded and pivoted on more axes than humanly possible while Corin Tucker was the electrifying counterpoint and complement. And all the while they were directed by drumming mastermind Janet Weiss. The sheer power of their live music rattled me for days, even weeks afterwards.

Continue reading →

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Joanna Newsom takes Union Transfer on an introspective journey

Joanna Newsom | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Joanna Newsom | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

Joanna Newsom exists in a musical universe of her own making, constructing song novellas that take the ears to places you would not expect. And then there is her harp, a musical fetish object for many, perched on a stage like a piece of an exquisite long forgotten ship that crashed into a rock venue. But Newsom is certainly so much more than her harp, as her voice, which has a range that is utterly supernatural, and songcraft always reveal something new about the world around us and, most importantly, ourselves. Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out: Babes in Toyland emerge triumphant at Underground Arts

Babes in Toyland | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Babes in Toyland | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

A world without the music of Babes in Toyland is a world lacking the angst and catharsis conveyed as only they can. Originally made up of Minneapolis guitarist-vocalist Kat Bjelland and drummer Lori Barbero, along with bassists Michelle Leon and Maureen Herman (who replaced Leon in 1992), the band re-emerged this year after disbanding in 2001.

When they finally played Philly’s Underground Arts on October 22 it had been 20 years since Babes in Toyland last set foot in the city. New and old fans alike showed they still wanted the band’s punk rage. And boy, did the band deliver. Rounded out by new bassist Clara Salyer, they pummeled Philadelphia with a brilliant set. Continue reading →

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Rhiannon Giddens delivers a stunning set at The Grand

Rihannon Giddens | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Rihannon Giddens | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

Historian. Feminist. Folklorist. Re-appropriator. Carolina Chocolate Drop. These are some of Rhiannon Giddens’ attributes. They certainly do not even begin to tell the story of her musicianship and towering live presence, let alone her ability to lead a brilliant backing band. On Friday at Wilmington’s Grand Opera House, Giddens delivered a live show not soon to be forgotten. Continue reading →

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EL VY embraces the unexpected at Union Transfer

EL VY | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
EL VY | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

They might suggest their band name is like the plural of Elvis, but Matt Berninger of The National and Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls and Menonmena are not trying to emulate the king with EL VY. Rather they have created a pop rock crush, sweeping listeners off their feet. On Tuesday, they certainly had the adoration of an overjoyed Union Transfer crowd. Playing every song from Return to the Moon plus a cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ classic “She Drives Me Crazy,” they did what few in the audience would truly expect — perform as their current persona rather than as a schizophrenic version of EL VY, The National, Menonmena and beyond. Continue reading →

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The Hooters celebrate 35 years by packing The Keswick Theatre

 

The Hooters | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
The Hooters | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

The Hooters are celebrating their 35th year of music-making in a grand fashion with a whirlwind tour. This past Friday and Saturday the Philadelphia band sold out The Keswick Theater both nights. The adoring crowd on Saturday and the pure joy of music-making emanating from the stage combined to make a powerful night of rock. Continue reading →

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Joanna Gruesome headlined a two continent spanning show at PhilaMOCA

Joanna Gruesome | Photo by Chis Sikich
Joanna Gruesome | Photo by Chris Sikich

Last Thursday PhilaMOCA hosted a quartet of indie rock that spanned two continents. Headlined by the Cardiff-based Joanna Gruesome, the concert was a punk kick to the ears.

Philly locals Mercury Girls kicked off the night with their crunchy pop that literally leapt into the former mausoleum’s room (thanks to a jumping, feline-attired Kevin Attics). Led by vocalist Sarah Schimineck, they were infectious and certainly garnered the deserved attention of the ever-increasing crowd. Make sure to catch them live at their upcoming November 25 show at Kung Fu Necktie. Continue reading →

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Trial By Fire: Creepoid, No Devotion and more break in The Fillmore’s Foundry

Creepoid | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Creepoid | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

The Foundry at The Fillmore was first christened with music on Sunday via a Questlove DJ set, but it was not until last night that guitars amplifiers echoed within its 400 capacity room. And boy, was it a raucous affair of four bands – with Philly’s Creepoid in the headliner slot – destroying and reforming the essence of rock for a modest, but certainly excitable Philly crowd. Continue reading →