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Neurosis and Converge brought a metal masterclass to Union Transfer

Neurosis | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

30 years in to the career, Neurosis has lost none of their edge. They have the swagger and confidence of people who have been in the game for as long as they have, but their stage presence is void of pretension. While many credit them as one of the forefathers of what could simply be called “post-metal” they make no claim to any throne other than the one of being able to reign down hell with the urgency of molasses pouring from a jar — which is as fine a description as any of their Union Transfer gig on Monday night. Continue reading →

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Sir Sly and SHAED exude fun with a packed crowd at The Fillmore’s Foundry

Sir Sly | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Los Angeles’ Sir Sly make their kind of infectious indie-pop-rock so well that it was no surprise to walk in to The Foundry a bit early only to be confronted by a crowd of dedicated fans pushed up against the stage. Make no mistake: their music appeals to the sing-along set, and they know every word. The all ages show left little room for stragglers, and the trio themselves did the best they could to exude fun energy across the limited stage size. Vocalist Landon Jacobs carries himself with a swagger that could have benefited from a little more space, but had no trouble working the crowd up, while Jason Suwito and Hayden Coplen kept the grooves going. Continue reading →

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Boyz II Men, New Kids On The Block, and Paula Abdul shared the Wells Fargo Stage on “Total Package Tour”

Clockwise from top left, Paula Abdul, New Kids On The Block and Boyz II Men performed live at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday June 24th | Photos by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

I am not a New Kids On The Block fan.  I am also not a New Kids On The Block hater.  I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, and adopted the persona wholeheartedly.  I watched Saved By The Bell, had a slap bracelet, and saw Cool As Ice in theaters (if you’ve never heard of that, Google it and come back to berate me in the comments).  NKOTB was something that permeated the era, so I knew their songs, I saw their videos, and yes, I memorized some lyrics.  I watched the videos on MTV, and along with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men among many others, would record the video shows on VHS to watch over and over. Continue reading →

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Philly dedicates a stretch of Broad Street to hometown R&B icon, Boyz II Men

Boys II Men Blvd Ceremony |Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

On Saturday afternoon, June 24th, 2017, the city of Philadelphia officially renamed the stretch of Broad Street between Christian and Carpenter as Boyz II Men BLVD. The R&B crooners have had a long and storied career that began in the city almost 3 decades ago. The fitting tribute took place on the steps of the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts. Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Sigur Ros at The Mann

Sigur Ros | Photo by Matthew Shaver | matthewshaver.com

Icelandic post rock band Sigur Ros brought its summer tour to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts last night. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the band performed two career-spanning sets as a trio, mixed with their trademark visual spectacle. Check out a gallery of photos from the show care of our Matthew Shaver. Continue reading →

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Block Rockin’ Beats: A primer on 1997’s Big Beat scene, The Chemical Brothers to The Crystal Method

The Chemical Brothers in 1997 | photo by Jake Chessum

Though I was only a preteen, I have vivid memories of the late 80s/early 90s in the US, and what was happening in music as far MTV and pop radio were telling me. What I didn’t, and really couldn’t, realize was the impact that two seemingly unrelated music cultures were having across the pond. Dance music bounced back from the demise of disco, and acid House was fueling clubs and raves across Britain. Unexpectedly, American hip-hop was also playing a large role in the same scenes, as kids soaked in the phenomena, DJs across the UK became superstars, and began building their own arsenal of music that combined multiple genres.

Two of these DJs even payed homage in name, borrowing from the production duo that helmed the seminal Beastie Boys album, Paul’s Boutique until they were forced to Exit Planet Dust. For their follow up, Dig Your Own Hole, The Chemical Brothers — Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons — made a statement that would continue the transformation of the techno landscape forever in the spring of 1997. As the guitar loops kicked in, it was actually Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D that ushered in this new era with a sample form his “Gucci Again” and let us know they were “Back with another of those block rockin’ beats!”

What followed was a grandiose tour through psychedelic breakbeats that featured stops from Noel Gallagher (a huge accomplishment for a techno act in that day), and continued Beth Orton’s drive to forge her own genre that would be lovingly referred to as “folktronica.” Interweaved in to all of it were heavily acidic bass lines, funky guitars, and hip-hop samples. It solidified them as leaders of the sound defined as Big Beat. Continue reading →

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Interview: Eisley’s Sherri Dupree on family, anxiety and approaching the band anew

Eisley
Eisley | Photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

Indie pop-rock darlings Eisley have a new album out called I’m Only Dreaming.  Singer/songwriter Sherri Dupree took time out of her hectic schedule to talk to The Key about the current tour, working with family, and some of the changes in the lineup. They headline tonight at The Foundry of The Fillmore Philadelphia; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Matthew Shaver’s songs I danced with my daughter to in 2016

Beyonce’s All Night | still from video

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2016 incredible. Today, Key contributor and new dad Matthew Shaver wonders how he’s going to one day explain this year to his infant daughter.

In September, my daughter was born, I know you all were wondering where I’ve been. As a gift (for when she is older) I created a 24 hour playlist of songs that I’ve liked throught my life, up to the point she was born. I’m proud of it, i think she’ll hate most of it by the time she is old enough to listen (a lot of it is not for young ears). But then my editor, John Vettese, made a light hearted comment that made me think long and hard. He wrote: “I love that you, as a parent, are putting ‘Norf Norf’ on a playlist for your child.”

Summertime ’06 was an album I listened to a lot in 2015, placed among my favorites, but it did make me think. 2016 was not kind to women, in the news, and in society. I have to explain to her at some point that we elected a man in to office that said it was ok to grab women by the pussy. Hip-hop is the result of many facets of society that are not so kind to people of color. I can explain that to my daughter when she’s older, and I’m certain she’ll understand, but I’d still have to explain that I “liked” a song that has the line “Where the ladies at, where the ho’s, where the bitches, every real ni**a knows the difference.”

So, I was going through my head thinking of lists that I could write instead. There have been a lot of positive people in Philly, a lot of positive women throughout the world I could name, but then I thought, that 18 years from now, will that list have as much weight as I hope. Maybe, but I don’t like to gamble, so instead, here are 7 songs I danced to with my baby from 2016, songs I wouldn’t be worried about telling her about when that time comes. Continue reading →

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Piebald rocks The Troc after an eight year extended hiatus

Piebald at The Trocadero | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com
Piebald at The Trocadero | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

Piebald was cast in a very special hardcore mold, one that bore the holy trinity of Boston bands (the others being Converge and Cave In).  While their peers stayed steeped in the rough and rugged, Piebald veered off on to their own to create some of the most fun alternative rock ever made.  An important distinction between them and a lot of other alt-rock bands from the era.  Even when the songs are a bummer, they are unabashedly fun. Continue reading →