Well Philly, you are in for a treat. But it happened in Delaware first.
The debut of Strand of Oaks‘ new material from the forthcoming Hard Love album happened in a barn in Delaware in front of a crowd that ranged in age from 10 to 70. “This music is for everyone who needs it right now,” frontman Timothy Showalter mentioned before the show. “As much as Heal was pointing inward, Hard Love [points straight out]. It’s an important time for that, we’re not playing around anymore.”
Last night saw a massive heavy double bill with 90s cult faves Local H and Helmet at World Cafe Live, of all places. The former came out roaring with their mix of punk and 90s grunge that set a high bar for energy and got the standing crowd moving. Vocalist/guitarist Scott Lucas was on point, ripping through favorites like “That’s What They All Say,” “High Fiving MF” and “Hands On The Bible.” Amazing sound for a two-piece and some of the best lighting I’ve seen in the venue.
Helmet was the main fare and not having seen them since 1992 (a co-bill with L7 at The Troc), I had no idea what to expect. Page Hamilton, the founder / vocalist / guitarist, is famously not your standard frontman for a metal band. He plays a very technical, mathematical jazz-influenced guitar sound that reminds me of classic Black Sabbath played by a Berklee alum with passive-aggressive issues. Continue reading →
It’s hard to know where to begin reviewing a Marillion show. With over 35 years as progressive rock icons, their live history is overwhelming and complex. Even more so with the release of F.E.A.R. (Fuck Everyone and Run), their astounding new album that recently debuted #4 in the UK charts, an unprecedented act for an artist this deep into their career. But F.E.A.R. is not just any album, it is perhaps the best album they have written since Steve Hogarth took over as vocalist for Fish in 1989. At once an indictment of Brexit, Greed, Trump and the other powers that press down on us, it is also a much more personal look into the mirror of anxiety and disconnection. It is has teeth and is unflinching, musically and lyrically. For me F.E.A.R. is hands down the best album of 2016 which is nothing short of shocking – the equivalent of The Who suddenly releasing an album as good as Quadrophenia in 2016.
I didn’t know what to expect from this one. I was aware of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s music, a melange of dub/reggae and electronics that he largely invented over a number of decades. That he is a Grammy winner and is listed by Rolling Stone as one of the top 100 greatest artists (of any genre) of all time. I was also aware that the man is 80. But I was not expecting this.
It was a strong, diverse crowd at World Cafe, mostly younger people up front. Perry’s backing band Subatomic Sound System played a 40 minute into set, which was excellent set the stage nicely. Legendary percussionist Larry McDonald was standout, especially considering he is also in his late 70s- he alone was worth the price of admission. When Lee finally came out it was to a roar from the crowd- even at 80 the man was instantly spritely and was festooned in a colorful getup that was part reggae, part crazy homeless guy. His microphone was embedded in a beer can, and his clothing/ hat/ suitcase and shoes all had various random trinkets attached to them. Continue reading →
Dogfish Head’s Analog-A Go-Go music fest took things to a new level in its sixth year, moving the event to Bellevue State Park in Wilmington, DE and taking over the park in with its unique combination of live music, craft beer, vinyl and art. A diverse offering of local and national acts was a bold move for a festival in its first large effort- with headliners Built To Spill (a Dogfish favorite) supported by Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Taleb Kweli, Hop Along, Beach Slang and Fiancé. Continue reading →
Philly has always been close to Bruce Springsteen’s heart. It was one of the cities that first supported him when he was a young performer, and that has enjoyed his return countless times. In fact, it was early support and interviews by WXPN’s David Dye (himself a young man at WMMR at the time) that helped bring interest in Bruce to the area. Last night at Citizen’s Bank Park, the same venue where just two nights ago he broke his US set length by playing a 34 song set that lasted an astounding 4 hours and 3 minutes. For a performer in his late 60s, over 5 decades into live performance, this is unprecedented. Continue reading →
I’ve probably seen Greg Dulli perform more shows than any other artist in my life. From the Afghan Whigs to the Twilight Singers, Gutter Twins and now solo, it’s been over two decades of amazing live performances. I hold some of the late 90s Whigs shows, the ones that went deep into the night, as some of the best musical experiences I’ve ever enjoyed. So An Evening with Greg Dulli at the First Unitarian Church was going to be interesting.
The Fillmore was packed like sardines for Leon Bridges’ first local show since his knockout Grammy performance last week. Philly’s own Son Little kicked off the night in style with a full band and a kicking 40 minute set. It was a great R&B taster and he certainly held his own with the force of spirit that is Leon Bridges.
It’s been an interesting road for Laura Jane Grace. From the punk-folk star with Against Me! to a transgender icon, there is a richness and unique history that she is currently creating. Playing mostly stripped down songs from Against Me!’s catalog, the songs not only took on deeper meaning, but also incurred a more intense listening that was evident by the perfectly-silent crowd at World Cafe Live at the Queen. Continue reading →
It is to their credit that Muse have been able to build such a massive following in the US. The are a catchier, edgier, cousin of Radiohead, and not the kind of band you typically see filling arenas here. But their live shows are a spectacle, and last night the Wells Fargo Center was no exception.
Playing in the round, their show opened with a note about the the number of people killed by drones. A dozen or so stormtroopers with laser eyes surrounded the stage while the band rose from three stands at separate ends of the arena. Clear spherical drones hovered and pointed spotlights around the crowd as the band launched into “Psycho,” one of their stronger tracks from 2015’s Drones. Continue reading →