Firefly on Film: Reflections of a weekend in the Woodlands on 35mm

Firefly 2017 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Important thing to remember this festival season: a fifty percent chance of rain is also a fifty percent chance of no rain. It could be a fifty percent chance of scorching sun and dry heat. Reality might not line up with your anticipations, and the best approach is to be prepared for anything and expect the unexpected.

This is something that came up at several intervals last weekend at Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival; I went in expecting to get soaked and instead I got sunburnt, I’d read media murmurs about diminished attendance but found it positively jumpin on Saturday; I thought (from experience at XPNFest a few years back) that Bob Dylan was going to to be insufferable and sad, and he was actually mostly very good — the best thing we can hope for with a Dylan set in 2017, honestly — closing his nearly 90-minute performance with a ripping “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Captain, We’re Sinking

A product of the remarkably fertile pop punk soil in Scranton, the gentlemen of Captain, We’re Sinking release their third LP this Friday. The King Of No Man, out on Run for Cover Records, is a reflective set of songs about mortality, loneliness and disconnection, and it finds the band’s craft in top form. Which makes sense, as they’ve been at it for a decade. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Get a taste of Noise & Silence’s Cycle Theory EP, out Friday on Exotic Fever

Noise and Silence | Photo by Camille Remeur | courtesy of the artist
Noise and Silence | Photo by Camille Remeur | courtesy of the artist
Philadelphia’s Matt Fleming and Bob Hunter bridge the worlds of aggressive rock and atmospheric soundscaping in their experimental duo Noise and Silence, which releases its debut EP Cycle Theory this Friday on Philly imprint Exotic Fever Records.

Today we’re happy to bring you a taste of that EP with a two-song preview. Opener “Vitamins” roars out the gate with expressive open chord guitar playing and soaring, reverb-tinged vocals, reminiscent at turns of Explosions In The Sky’s The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place and Deftones’ White Pony. While “Vitamins” is solidly stratospheric, “Colorless” is a dynamic rumination, opening on a pensive and measured note, then launching into a cathartic refrain straight out of the early aughts post rock and emo scene. Continue reading →


Firefly on the Fly, Day Four: The Shins, Phantogram, Muse, Hamilton Leithauser, Hardwork Movement, Busta Rhymes and more

The Shins at Firefly 2016 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Our ears are still ringing from this weekend’s tremendously fun excursion at Firefly 2017. A review is coming later this week, but for today, we bring you photos from our final day in the Woodlands of Dover, Delaware…from Busta Rhymes kicking off the day to Philly faves Hardwork Movement in the campground, Hamilton Leithauser soldiering through string breakage on the main stage and Bishop Briggs playing a dynamic set on the festival’s Treehouse stage, dueling stints from top-form indie rockers The Shins and the always-compelling electro rock royalty Phantogram, and an over-the-top energized closing set from Muse. Continue reading →


Firefly on the Fly, Day Three: Chance the Rapper, Bob Dylan, Mondo Cozmo, Kesha, Bishop Briggs, DJ Jazzy Jeff and more

Chance The Rapper | Firefly Music Festival 2017 | Photos by John Vettese

Day Three of the Firefly Music Festival brought out superstar performances from Bob Dylan, Chance The Rapper, and The Weeknd, but it also brought out some of Philly’s finest including Mondo Cozmo, Chill Moody, Hardwork Movement, Vita and the Woolf, and a DJ set from the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff. Some great sets by Bishop Briggs, Sunflower Bean, and Kesha. Continue reading →


Firefly on the Fly, Day Two: Weezer, Judah & The Lion, Sofi Tukker, Flume, Twenty One Pilots, and more

Weezer | Firefly Music Festival 2017 | Photo by John Vettese

Here’s a quick rundown of day two of the Firefly Music Festival. While there were over thirty bands on the schdedule on Friday, the big hits of the day were Twenty One Pilots — whose fans are the hypest people at the festival by far — and Judah & The Lion, who opened the main stage in the afternoon. Judah & The Lion joined Twenty One Pilots during their set to cover “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba and “Jump Around” by House of Pain and the world exploded.

Sofi Tukker was the best set I saw today. The Brooklyn based duo – Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern – played very interactive dance rock with touches of South American percussion. Maggie Rogers came onstage to join in on a song with them. Banks was stunning; and her haunting performance was marked with beautiful sound, choreography, and a lot of awesome weirdness. Franz Ferdinand DJ’d Euro pop on the Treehouse Stage after their main stage set; and Louie Louie performed on the Campground Stage. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Katie Frank

At a West Philly gig earlier this spring, I watched local indie rock band Major Pursuit cover the Dixie Chicks immortal “Goodbye Earl,” an anthem about abuse, revenge and sisterhood. “If somebody hits you,” the band reasoned, “murder them.”

This is pretty much the aesthetic of the latest batch of songs singer-songwriter Katie Frank has cooked up over the past year. After debuting in 2012 with Covered Bridge Road and really stepping into the spotlight on 2014’s Counting Your Curses, the Elizabethtown native returned this spring with a revved up string of rocked up, honky tonk and blues inspired single about betrayal, scorn, emotional neglect and — in the case of “Through Your Window” — a search for a way out, pistol in hand. Continue reading →


Watch Palm perform “Walkie Talkie” on the Indie Rock Hit Parade

Palm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Palm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Fearless, wild, weird and wonderful, Philly four-piece Palm has a new record out today called Shadow Expert. It’s a collection of candy-coated dissonance, six songs of mind-bendy arrangements and interlocking instrumental complexity that stand alongside inviting tones and playful melodies, the sweetest shreddery you’ll ever hear.

As a live band, Palm is no joke — of course they’re not, being able to make records like this means being actually able to play music like this — and we heard that firsthand a couple weeks ago when it performed in XPN studios for a joint session with The Key and the Indie Rock Hit Parade.  Continue reading →


Firefly on the Fly, Day One: Maggie Rogers, OAR, Glass Animals, Kaleo, Eden and more

Kaleo | Firefly 2017 | Photo by John Vettese

Day one of the Firefly Music Festival was marked by near perfect weather – sunny skies and comfortable breezes – and some excellent sets of music. Maggie Rogers was by far the standout set of the day. She’s originally from Eastern Shore, Maryland, so this was sort of a hometown set for her. Both OAR and Salt Cathedral played pop-up sets in the Firefly Coffee House after their main stage sets; OAR had the place packed. And there were several cool covers; Maggie Rogers did “Wannabe” by Spice Girls, and Eden did “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson and “Hey Ya” by OutKast. Continue reading →


Items Tagged Philadelphia: Requiem for the springtime

Enamel | via

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

Oh my, we’re running behind this week, aren’t we? Very behind. Or we’re very early for next week, depending on your point of view. I blame the heat; the stuffy, sluggish days where the atmosphere feels like its literally dragging you down. That’s sort of behind us, for the moment — we’re in the temporary reprieve zone, it was just a preview of what we’re going to get in August, you know? — and now we’re in the heating up of the summer concert itinerary.
Continue reading →