Back in October, Sleater-Kinney astonished their devout fan base by announcing a new album, dropping a new song, and revealing a tour, their first in almost a decade. Four months later, fans in Philadelphia were given a chance to witness the newly resurrected group.
After an opening set by the politically-charged Minnesota MC Lizzo – who preached female empowerment through her intelligence and sexuality, while mixing in a strong sense of intersectionality, mentioning the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Riot Grrrl – Sleater-Kinney took the Union Transfer stage on Saturday night to wild applause from the sold-out crowd. Continue reading →
Recently, R5 Productions announced that shows First Unitarian Church would be scaling way back this fall. For that reason, it’s an appropriate time to really cherish seeing your favorite bands at the much-adored “Church.” On November 8th, Philadelphia was treated to a show from east coast punk favorites The Menzingers, returning to the basement after months of hard touring behind their 2014 outing Rented World, which had them packing both Golden Tea House and Union Transfer earlier this year. Continue reading →
While many bands are preparing for their trip to the THE FEST, the annual DIY scene gathering in Gainesville, Florida, the East Coast is blessed with a slew of great punk shows, as bands tour down to the event, or play warm-up shows in advance of their sets at FEST. One of those shows this year came from the locally adored Jersey punk favorites Lifetime, who headlined the Brooklyn Vegan-sponsered rager at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park. Alongside Lifetime were up and comers Lemuria, the classic Jersey straight edge crew Mouthpiece, and reunited West Chester favorites Spraynard rounding out the lineup. Continue reading →
Doylestown’s Balance and Composure wrapped up their headlining tour Saturday night at Theater of Living Arts. They released their second album The Things We Think We’re Missing in fall of 2013 and have been on the road ever since. Saturday night they played all the jams from this album, along with some older stuff including songs off Separation. Ending a great set, B&C closed with “Notice Me,” a collective favorite among fans. Keeping with the heavy emo genre, California’s Seahaven was the opener during the whole tour. Vocalist Kyle Soto opened with an acoustic “Honey Bee” before getting down and heavy with the rest of the band for “Black and White.” Starting out the night were Philadelphia-bred noisemakers Creepoid (now based in Savannah) who joined the tour halfway through after a long run with Against Me!. Plenty of family and friends came out for the celebration of the two hometown bands. Check out the photos from the show in the gallery below. Continue reading →
Syracuse lo-fi punk band Perfect Pussy played an energetic set Thursday night for a packed crowd at the First Unitarian Church. Frontwoman Meredith Graves gave the performance her all and pumped up the crowd to its highest intensity. Continue reading →
Rohnert Park, California five-piece Ceremony have a long and storied history in the Philadelphia punk and hardcore scene, especially at the fan-favorite venue, The First Unitarian Church. On Saturday, July 19th, the band made a triumphant return to “the Church”, a stop on a twenty-five day-long tour with Philadelphia’s own shoegaze phenoms, Nothing, and Seattle’s dark powerviolence duo, Iron Lung.
Much like any Ceremony gig since the release of 2012’s Zoo, this set was a diverse collection of the band’s efforts that span their ten-year history. Ceremony started out in 2004 as Northern California’s premier powerviolence hardcore act. Their first few releases were bitter, aggressive, outbursts that channeled an alienation from societal norms coupled with hateful contempt for government and authority figures. The focus shifted with the group’s last three full-length releases Still Nothing Moves You (2008), Rohnert Park (2010), and Zoo (2012). The songs maintained their dark, and often bleak, lyrics, but the music shifted from aggressive powerviolence hardcore, to a garage influenced post-punk. The atmospheric Zoo was the most abrupt shift, leaving some fans behind.
The remaining Ceremony enthusiasts, much like those in attendance at this sold out show, embraced the shift. Ceremony delivered a chaotic, yet cohesive mix of old and new. The driving post-punk tunes “Hysteria” and “Citizen” sat perfectly in the set-list amongst hardcore classics, and fan-favorites “Kersed” and “He-God-Has Favored Our Undertakings”. While the harder songs may have elicited a bigger crowd response, including a few pile-ons where the microphone was completely lost at the bottle of a pile of screaming fans, the energy remained consistent throughout the stage-dive ridden set. When the show was over, injuries were nursed, fluids were replenished, and surely no Ceremony fan, old or new, left disappointed.
An opening set was provided by hometown boys Nothing. This group has run into phenomenal success on the heels of their latest full-length, Guilty of Everything. The critically-acclaimed album, released in March of 2014, showed the world that Nothing could deliver a well-written, catchy, and darkly haunting record. Touring non-stop since releasing the album, Nothing have also backed-up their promise to be the loudest band you’ve ever seen. They delivered soaring shoegaze melodies over pounding bass that was sure to shock those up front. An emotionally charged set coerced an appropriate response from Nothing’s passionate fan base, including one concertgoer drawing blood from repeatedly slamming his hand on the monitor speaker. True to the pedigree of the members of Nothing (past and current members of hardcore acts such as Horror Show, Beware, Night Sins) the set was as intense and chaos-filled as a hardcore set, stage dives and all. Nothing continues to reinforce their place in Philadelphia’s aggressive music scene.
Filling out the touring lineup, and reinforcing the hardcore roots of the tour were powerviolence act, Iron Lung. Leading the charge of current heavy bands, Iron Lung has consistently been delivering brutal and dark records for over fifteen years, mostly self released through their own label, Iron Lung records. The two-piece band delivers a heavier and more intense performance than most four or five-piece acts. Jumping from joking with the crowd into scathing hardcore songs, filled with blastbeats and chaotic stops, Iron Lung delivered a performance that solidified their reputation as pioneers of newer, and weirder, heavy music.
Rounding out the show was local groups, Bad Side and Anxiety Hammer. If you live in or around Philadelphia and haven’t seen Bad Side yet, make a point of it. These West Philly favorites deliver a chaotic and fun-filled set of gutsy and dirty punk rock, played by some of the scene’s hardest-working DIY contributors. Anxiety Hammer are a relatively new gritty punk band that hail from South Philly. Opening the night with a tight and aggressive set this group set the tone for a night of dark, gritty and progressive forms of punk, played in one the city’s best venues for a punk show.
The infamous multicolored alphabet carpet was the perfect backdrop for a summer classic. Sweaty summer hardcore and punk shows at the Church never get old, and this was one for the ages.
Fuzzy indie rock quartet Swearin’ headlined a gig at Boot and Saddle on Friday night. Fronted by Allison Crutchfield, Swearin’ was started after the band she was in previously with her sister Katie – P.S Eliot – broke up. Katie went on to start her indie solo project, Waxahatchee, after the split.
With three releases to their credit – What A Dump, their 2012 self-titled release, and 2013’s excellent Surfing Strange, Swearin’ played the audience of punk fans a wide selection of songs from their albums. Allison expressed her love and adoration for Philadelphia’s DIY punk scene and happily announced that she and Kyle Gilbride (guitar/vocals) would be moving back to Philly soon. Allison and Kyle have a great chemistry together, both singing and playing guitar. Kyle’s vocals are reminiscent of mid-90’s grunge. Allison was very cute and cordial, yet fierce at times when the songs called for that.
The show was the last date of a short tour with all-girl indie-punk four piece Potty Mouth, and West Philly punks Urine Culture.
Spraynard are back in action. The boys from West Chester, PA decided to call it quits in late 2012, though the members were still active in other bands including NONA, Adult Braces, and Martin. This February, Spraynard announced that they would be playing a reunion show at the First Unitarian Church on May 24th. The tickets sold out within a day, even without mentioning any support acts. The band later announced that Timeshares (New York), hometown friends Everyone Everywhere, Virginia indie rockers Sundials and in particular, Armalite would be supporting the show. Armalite has been a “super group” band for almost ten years – a collaboration of Dan Yemin from Paint it Black, Adam Goren from Atom and his Package, longtime punk scenester Mike McKee and Jeff Ziga of Little Baby’s Ice Cream – but this only their sixth show ever. It was an awesome and rare opportunity to watch them perform!
Due to the overwhelming demand, Spraynard announced a second show to take place the night before the big reunion. This show was at Grand Slam USA of Malvern, PA—a family entertainment center where Mark Dickinson (bass), Dos Ware (drums), and Pat Graham (guitar) have all worked at during some time in their life. The lineup included hometown friends John Crodian and Lavis Blake, DC pop punks The Max Levine Ensemble, and Bethlehem’s own Slingshot Dakota. Grand Slam is equipped with laser tag, bating cages, and more. A stage and sound setup was on a basketball court, and it was one of the most unique shows I’ve ever attended.
Later in March, after the announcement of the shows, the dudes confirmed that Spraynard is back. The compilation LP, The Mark, Tom, and Patrick Show was released, and they just announced a summer tour in July with Dowsing, Timeshares, and Colossal Wrecks. Check out the photos from Grand Slam with John Crodian, The Max Levine Ensemble, and Slingshot Dakota along with the photos from First Unitarian with Everyone Everywhere, Armalite, and Sundials below.
Central Pa. hometown boys The Districts are in the middle of what’s shaping up to be a year of hard touring, but they brought the rock home yesterday afternoon for a Free at Noon set and a warm reception from the packed crowd. Listen to the six-song set in its entirety and peruse a gallery of photos below, and see the setlist after the jump. The Districts will be back in town this May for an appearance at WXPN’s NonCOMM on May 14th as well as an all-ages show at the First Unitarian Church on May 15th.
Buzzing New Orleans band Hurray for the Riff Raff brought their breezy spin on folk and blues to Free at Noon yesterday. The band plays a headlining set at World Cafe Live on Tuesday, April 8th, so the show yesterday gave the lunchtime crowd a taste of what’s in store. Listen to the performance and see a gallery of photos from the set below, and check out the setlist after the jump.