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Paul Williams, The Devil and Rock and Roll: Phantom of the Paradise comes to World Cafe Live

The Phantom of the Paradise | via Amazon

In a world where Paul Williams is the devil and the world is ruled by his music, Brian De Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise exists. Remembered by many as a schlocky, lesser-known De Palma work, Phantom is a film about artistic compromise and music as a commodity where style goes before substance. You’ll have a chance to see it on the big screen April 15th at World Cafe Live with a special DJ set from XPN’s Robert Drake. Continue reading →

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This Is Not a Rickroll: Five songs to get you excited for Rick Astley’s Electric Factory gig

Rick Astley, circa 1987

This Saturday, UK crooner Rick Astley will bring his classic 80’s pop stylings to the Electric Factory. At the time of his rise, many saw his songs as bubblegum fluff, another product of the Stock / Aitken / Waterman production team that also worked with Bananarama and Kylie Minogue. And true, all three acts suffered from stylistic similarities of some form or another during their time with SAW. However, like Kylie, Mr. Astley has got the goods and is the real deal.

Many of the kids out there reading this might know him best as the reason “Rickrolling” is a thing. “Never Gonna Give You Up,” and its resurgence in popularity has been very very good to Rick. He has a sense of humor about it and even personally Rickrolled a Macy’s Day Parade performance in 2008. But there’s more to this artist than a meme.

His voice sounds better than ever and his new album, 50, is a collection of gospel pop tunes that should bring comfort and positivity in these troubling times. Don’t think though that Rick Astley has gotten self-righteous and ultra serious, though. He also plays in a cover band with his mates and the catalogue includes The Sex Pistols and The Smiths. Recent YouTube tour clips show that this Saturday’s show is going to be a lot of fun.

Here is a list of five songs I’m really hoping he sings on Saturday. The Rickrolling is cute and all, but let’s get down to business. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Maureen Walsh’s best music videos of 2016

David Bowie’s Blackstar | still from video

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2016 incredible. Today, contributing writer Maureen Walsh recaps five of the year’s best music videos.

While the music video is no longer a requirement in order for audiences to discover an artist’s work, it is still a viable way for them to give us a visual representation of a mood, a way to supplement the song they have created, and also a way to promote their art.

Since not everyone is creating videos, those that do normally do so because they have a great idea for one. 2016 brought us videos that were weighty and visually striking. Water and rebirth were the theme of the vast majority of videos I picked on my list. 2016 was a bummer of a year for many, let’s hope the waters of healing reinvigorate us for 2017. Continue reading →

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Watch Oasis play the first-ever show at the CoreStates Center 20 years ago today

Oasis at Wells Fargo Center | still from video
Oasis at Wells Fargo Center | still from video

In the 90’s, The Spectrum gave way to a bigger and better (?) South Philly arena initially known as the CoreStates Center. This name lasted two years before it became the more Philly-centric First Union Center (“Yo, FU, get it?”) and is now the Wells Fargo Center.

Its first proper concert, held 20 years ago today, was a lineup of Manic Street Preachers, Screaming Trees, and a band “breaking the States” called Oasis. I did not attend this show; had I gone, my obsession with Oasis probably would have been much more short-lived. I was intensely into Oasis; Liam Gallagher seemed like the best guy ever. I owned all of the important bootlegs, books, singles, and t-shirts. I belonged to the newsgroups, message boards, got mad at anyone who “slagged off” the Gallagher brothers. The whole lot, mate. Needless to say, when I read this review from Tom Moon in the Philadelphia Inquirer, it was upsetting to me. Moon mocked Liam being frustrated with having a sore throat — sore throats suck, what did this music critic know of such things? Liam’s attitude was Oasis, maan!

A few years after this, I did see Oasis at the First Union Center and Liam pretty much pulled the same nonsense. Continue reading →

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John Carpenter brings horror scores to life at The Keswick

John Carpenter | photo by Kevin Thomas | courtesy of the artist | <a href=http://studiohousedesigns.com target="_blank">studiohousedesigns.com</a>
John Carpenter | photo by Kevin Thomas | courtesy of the artist | studiohousedesigns.com

Going into Saturday night’s John Carpenter show at the Keswick Theater, I had no idea what to expect. Would he stop the show to check on the latest on the NBA’s Summer League? Would he need to leave to chase Pokemon? Based on his reputation via the internet, anything was possible.

However, once the lights dimmed and the band came out, it was clear that he and his band were there to take John Carpenter film fans on a trip down memory lane. A shot of Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin came up on the screen and the crowd went wild as the main theme from the Escape From New York score was performed. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Maureen Walsh’s top five life-affirming songs of 2015

Kendrick Lamar in the "Alright" video
Kendrick Lamar in the “Alright” video

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2015 incredible. Today, Key contributor Maureen Walsh shares the year’s most life-affirming songs.

2015 has been the year of battling injustices, terrorism, and Trump.  Sometimes you need someone to sing you a song that will get you through the insanity.  Luckily, a group of artists delivered. Continue reading →

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AlunaGeorge brings powerful pop to a Monday night dance party at Union Transfer

AlunaGeorge | Photo by Doug Interrante
AlunaGeorge | Photo by Doug Interrante

I had the pleasure of seeing AlunaGeorge at Liverpool Sound City fest two years ago after a long day of travel and music. That night, despite my exhaustion, they blew me away with their sound that reminded me of my favorite acts growing up: Lisa Lisa, Cover Girls, Good Girls, etc. along with a fun stage show. Monday night at Underground Arts was even better than that night at The Garage. Continue reading →

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Alabama Shakes amaze the Mann Center with rock and soul

Alabama Shakes | Photo by John Vettese
Alabama Shakes | Photo by John Vettese

“GODDAMN!” was the word a man behind me exclaimed throughout last night’s Drive-By Truckers and Alabama Shakes show at the Mann Center. I would concur with his sentiment, as both bands amazed with all-out rock and soul sets.

Kicking off the night, Drive-By Truckers ebbed and flowed with scorchers like “Let There Be Rock,” and political songs such as the new “What It Means.”

It was a co-headlining show, with the Truckers stretching out to 75 minutes, but the true stars of the show were Alabama Shakes, whose performance evoked soul, rock, and gospel with fluidity. Continue reading →

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The Weeknd, Metric, Mick Jenkins and more bring the heat to Made In America Day Two

The Weeknd| Photo by John Vettese
The Weeknd| Photo by John Vettese

Day two of this year’s Made in America festival was decidedly more about the music than being seen in the same vicinity as Queen Bey. I was greeted by two very cheery security guards who, after searching my bags and person, handed me a bottle of water about three times bigger than the one I brought with me and told me to have a great time. That definitely set the tone for the day. Continue reading →

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Screaming Females sounded stadium-ready at Union Transfer on Saturday

Screaming Females | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Screaming Females | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

On Saturday night, New Jersey’s Screaming Females ended their four week tour at Union Transfer with a set demonstrating that in their tenth year, they deserve all the good things coming to them. Focusing heavily on their new album, Rose Mountain, the songs translated well from basement show fare to something dare-I-say stadium ready. That might be a scary thought to some punk fans, but seeing Marissa Paternoster shredding for the masses rather than some dude from Walk the Moon is way more satisfying if you ask me. Continue reading →