Donald Glover is a man of many traits; an actor, a comedian, a writer, but this night he was his musical moniker, Childish Gambino. The Electric Factory was packed with eager fans anticipating what was sure to be an epic performance. The background was lit with a twitter feed where fans could type in anything and it would pop up on screen which ensued hilarity and a lot of sexual innuendos.
With no opening act, only a DJ that played 90′s hip hop singles like “Hot in Herre” and “MotownPhilly”, the crowd was getting antsy. Especially when there was a dropped phone call over the loud speakers that beeped for a few minutes before Gambino finally entered the stage.
Ok, so I haven’t really been to many hip hop shows, with the exception of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis at the Roots Picnic last year. So in my head all I picture is the main rapper and DJ in the background. That was not the case here, the stage was packed with instrumentalists from a keyboardist, two guitarists, a DJ, a drummer, and probably a few others. Not to mention his posse of folks just chillin’ in the back on couches. The backgrounds were stellar, they included a house with windows , crazy blue and white surging lightning bolts, and an outdoor bonfire.
Gambino gave a strong performance and commanded the audience with rap ballads and power chords featuring thoughtful lyrics about racism, politics, family, and love.
He belted out tunes from his latest LP, Because the Internet as well as a few numbers from his previous, Camp and ended the night with a special freestyle with fellow artist, Steve G Lover.
Saturday XPN welcomed Doylestown’s intrinsic and frolicking Commonwealth Choir to MilkBoy, along with local three piece Big Tusk, with who Commonwealth Choir recently collaborated on a limited edition cassette tape. They only made 50 tapes and sold them all out by the end of the evening; maybe we’ll get lucky and the new “Big Choir” will release more music together.
The evening started out with Brooklynites Vintage Villain making their Philly debut. The crowd responded well, grooving their keyboard sounds and deep vocals reminiscent of Phantogram and Deerhunter.
Next up was new Big Tusk, who performed songs off their most recent EP, Flood. They brought the energy forward with trickling pop guitar riffs, banging drums, and zinging keyboards. Drummer, Howe Pearson got so jazzed up and that he ripped his shirt off and began swinging it around, sort of a nod to Commonwealth Choir, who last year released an EP called Shirtless. For their final song, Big Tusk brought up a bassist and a second percussionist who played the washboard, a tin can, and a tambourine.
South Jersey natives Pine Barons hit the stage next, and they brought out an extremely excited and enthusiastic crowd of folks who were amped up from seeing their debut music video, “Don’t Believe What They Told You,” earlier in the day. The band played a selection of tracks from their self-titled EP, released last March; they’re currently recording a follow-up with Kyle Pulley at Headroom Studios in Fishtown.
Last but certainly not least, Commonwealth Choir took to the stage feeding off the crowd’s good spirit and eagerness, jumping right into jangling bells and rockin’ rhythms singing cuts from Shirtless. Frontman Davis Howley howled the melodies of tunes like “Rest” and “Movie Song,” jangling out sweet grooves on his guitar and bringing up buds from Big Tusk up during “Palace,” riling up an already feverish audience.
Miniature Tigers | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Three scuzzy rock acts set up shop at a packed Boot & Saddle last Saturday evening. NYC based garage rock quartet, Total Slacker opened the show. Their fun punk rockyness and energetic vibe got the crowd movin’ just in time for the next act, Brooklyn’s Bear Hands. The crowd grew in size to watch the electronic indie pop group, catching the attention of fan girls standing up front gazing longingly at the band members. By the time the second headliner came on, Miniature Tigers, it was a mix of poppy exuberance and one dismayed crowd member who shouted “Sorry but Bear Hands is better!” Definitely not cool. The lead vocalist Charlie Brand though, didn’t let the member’s comment sway him from rockin’ out with the rest of the crowd, walking through people and handing off the microphone so they could sing along to the lyrics.
Attending a St. Vincent concert is different than an average night out seeing your favorite band. A performance from this artist is just that, a performance. Last night’s sold-out show at Union Transfer was a mix of music, interpretative dance, and wordplay. The brilliant and divine Annie Clark put together a stunning array of entertainment, delving into a 20-song set list and giving the audience a taste of her creative and gleaming magnetism.
Her fourth studio album, the self titled St. Vincent, released on Loma Vista and Republic Records, “does not sound like it was recorded here on Earth” says Pitchfork. Her baroque pop and art rock styles were brought to the immediate surface with this album, touching the playful and intriguing style of her music and singular personality on display during her performance last night.
St. Vincent | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
The eager crowd cheered and bounced when Annie Clark came out onto the stage, radiating mysterious beauty with her David Bowie inspired white / purple hair, wearing a white gown with a blood-red smear front. Her pale complexion and dark blue eye shadow just seem to work. Seeing her standing in front of you almost feels like staring at a piece of artwork, or watching an animated character. She opened the show with the first song off the new album, “Rattlesnake” which she has said was inspired by a nude stroll in the woods where she was nearly bit by a rattlesnake. The upbeat techno backing matched Clark’s robotic dance moves perfectly. She shook her shoulders and opened her eyes wide, moving each of her limbs one by one and shuffling her feet across the stage.
She moved into “Digital Witness”, the first single from the new album. The song talks about the changes in a modern digital age: “people turn the TV on / it looks just like a window.” The song encapsulates the way people look at the world today through such a digital lens, which she discussed when she appeared on the Colbert Report earlier this past week. Continue reading →
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, photographer Rachel Barrish shares her favorite shots of the year.
I’ve been photographing concerts for almost two years, and I started out right here at The Key. There is nothing I love more than being able to capture a moment during a concert by a musician I admire, and these are my top 5 photos from various shows I shot this year.
1. Yeah Yeah Yeahs at River Stage at Great Plaza
Being on a Tuesday, you didn’t really know what type of show this was going to be or how many people were going to show up. The place seemed fairly empty for such a large scale when Karen O first came on stage, but it felt like bliss. Seeing a band that big on a large stage with a fairly intimate audience is special and memorable. When the paper “Y” confetti exploded onto the audience I knew that I was lucky to have had the chance to capture this show. Continue reading →
On Saturday evening, Doylestown native Anthony Green played a homecoming show at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer, on tour in support of his third solo album, Young Legs. The Circa Survive frontman brought along friends Keith Goodwin, Dan Schwartz, and Tim Arnold from Good Old War, as well as Brendan Ekstrom from Circa Survive and Dave Davison to serve as his backing band. They were a super collaboration that sounded in top form as they wrapped their five-week among friends.
The set started with two love ballads from Green’s first album, Avalon. They were songs written about his wife, Meredith; she came on the road with the band along with their two sons, Luke and James. Green then delved into his second solo album, Beautiful Things, which got the crowd singing along to “Get Yours While You Can” and “Moon Song”. The crowd hushed down for the new “Conversation Piece,” so much so that Green thanked them for being so respectful. He then led them in a singalong of the “Anytime” in different tempos: “Do it like you just drank a bunch of coffee! Now like you just smoked a bunch of weed!”
Green’s sincere nature and joyful stage presence made this show one for the record books. It felt like watching a family on stage, and it was clear that he and his tour mates have been friends for a long time. The camaraderie extended to both sides of the stage, which were lined with friends and family showing their support. Green ended the night with songs from both of his other projects including “Seven Years” by Saosin and “Get Out” by Circa Survive. Below, check out a gallery of photos from the show and read the setlist after the jump.
Going back in time to 2003, Scott Hutchison chose to play a song off the band’s first album, Sing the Greys early in the set. He asked the audience if they remembered that album and the crowd cheered, but Hutchison jokingly responded “Yeah, yeah, you probably just think it’s Midnight Organ Fight. But that’s okay”. His interactions with audience members are always entertaining and amusing, poking fun at the loud hecklers shouting out requests. He even started off after the first song by taking off his shoes, gearing up for the evening ahead.
Surprisingly there seems to be good amount of songs missing from the setlist that would have been expected, specifically “Late March, Death March” that stood out from their most recent LP Pedestrian Verse with its triumphant chorus and harmonious vocals. They instead brought out “Backyard Skulls” and “The Oil Slick”, two other stand out numbers from the latest LP. Hutchison also did two solo numbers, “Fuck this Place” from the 2011 Frightened Rabbit EP and “Poke” off The Midnight Organ Fight, the album that stands out in most of our minds as Hutchison’s best lyrical endeavor.
“Keep Yourself Warm” closed out the show during the encore; it is a song that literally brought me to tears at one point. Although the lyrics are a bit graphic and the metaphors brings to mind an uncomfortable visual, the epitome of the song is about staying true to oneself and learning to be happy, because you won’t find happiness or love with just anyone. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below and the setlist after the jump.