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The Skeleton Key: June is jumping with Kids of the Black Hole film series, Harmony Woods on the river, theremins in Laurel Hill cemetery, and Philly Still F’n Shreds fest

Out of the Blue screens at International House’s Kids of the Black Hole series this month

I am an unapologetic cheerleader for summer. There’s water ice, hang outs down the shore, you can ride your bike everywhere, and most importantly there are outside shows! I mean, say what you will about the beauty of West Philly in winter – and it really is quite nice, don’t get me wrong – but given the choice between sledding down the rock-strewn hills of Clark Park on a ripped pizza box I just found in a trash or sitting around and watching a bunch of bands play while eating ice cream during the annual music festival there, I know where I’ll be. Continue reading →

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Break Free Fest Spotlight: Rare Form

Rare Form | via rareformhc.bandcamp.com

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Rare Form / Philadelphia, PA
rareformhc.bandcamp.com

For the final preview of this weekend’s Break Free Fest, we spoke with Kayla Bastos, singer of Philadelphia hardcore band Rare Form who will be playing their final show at The Rotunda on Sunday.

Despite only being around for a couple years, the band managed to accomplish a lot. From touring the West Coast to opening up for a bunch of legendary acts including Madball to putting out a fantastic album to … having their song “Not Ur Baby” covered by Radigals, a feminist hardcore band from Singapore? Yup, that happened, and it’s amazing.

So watch that video, listen to the Rare Form album (it’s short and sweet and will take about 10 minutes), read this interview, and get yourself pumped for Break Free Fest! Continue reading →

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Blowdryer talks working in bursts, band tattoos and the weird video art of “Intent”

Blowdryer | photo courtesy of the artist

When fuzzed-out indie rockers Bleeding Rainbow broke up in 2015, a ton of people were really bummed out, including myself. We consoled ourselves with the fact that the members were in a whole mess of other cool bands including Telepathic, Pinkwash, and Blowdryer.

While the first two have thankfully been releasing new music on a fairly regular basis, Blowdryer – Sarah Everton from Bleeding Rainbow on guitar, joined by and Robyn Campbell (of Permanent Body) and Dominique Montgomery, who switch between bass and drums – quickly put out an EP, the Deprogrammed tape, but had been silent on the release front since then. But the long wait for new recordings is finally over!

Their brand new self-titled LP, released today, is 10 tracks of incredibly catchy and clever post-punk that is a veritable showcase of the band’s myriad interests. There’s a strong Devo influence going on, some Wipers, Bratmobile and Beat Happening, Tiger Trap, and so much more. But when it comes down to it, anyone can make a record that just apes those bands. What Blowdryer has done is distilled the best parts, their favorite parts, and channeled that into their sound and created something that is very much their own. Did I mention that it’s really fun? It’s really, really fun.

We caught up with the band to talk about the new album, the video they made for “Intent”, and what the future holds.   Continue reading →

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Break Free Fest Spotlight: Melanin

Melanin | via facebook.com/melaninchicago

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Melanin / Chicago, IL
melaninpunk.bandcamp.com

Melanin has been ripping up the Chicago scene for the past year. As they explain in the interview below, they are very much “catchy punk rock” in their sound. But unlike all those soulless punk bands of yesteryear that just had songs about getting dumped and drinking beer, Melanin not only has a lot to say but the musical –  and lyrical – ability to make you want to listen and care. Continue reading →

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Break Free Fest Spotlight: Kind! Crew

Kind Crew | photo via kindcrewhc.bandcamp.com

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Kind! Crew / Boston, MA
kindcrewhc.bandcamp.com

Kind! Crew is a Boston youth crew hardcore band. Their music is fast and heavy and their socially conscious lyrics – “Spreading a message of love, equality, and well-being” according to their Bandcamp – are delivered in both English and Spanish. Break Free Fest is their first time playing Philadelphia. For this interview we spoke with guitarist Seth. Continue reading →

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Break Free Fest Spotlight: Complex

Complex | via complex.bandcamp.com

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Complex / Philadelphia, PA
complex.bandcamp.com

Complex is a hardcore punk band from Philadelphia who has been gigging around the city since 2016. Their first release, the Modern Mutants cassette, came out last year. This is the second time they will be playing at Break Free Fest. For this interview we spoke with lead singer EJ. Continue reading →

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Break Free Fest Spotlight: Great Wight

Great Wight | photo by Nikki Austin | via thegreatwight.bandcamp.com

After a successful inaugural year, Philadelphia’s Break Free Fest returns to The Rotunda this weekend for two days, bringing POC and other marginalized voices in the punk scene together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Great Wight / New York City, New York
thegreatwight.bandcamp.com

Great Wight is a super catchy emo-influenced band from New York City. Despite being around for just over seven months at this point, they’ve managed to put out an album and tour extensively. In June they are heading to England for a short run of shows. We spoke with lead singer and guitar player Erik Garlington. Continue reading →

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Curiosity and Chaos: Zwei Mann Orchester finds readymade music in the sounds of every day

Zwei Mann Orchester | photo by Yoni Kroll for WXPN

“You are seated in the cockpit of a fantastical, Rube Goldberg-like machine. All around you is a forest of strings, rods, levers and all manner of other movable elements. Using your hands, feet, body, and head, even the smallest gesture to set forth a visible chain reaction of producing the entire timbral range of the orchestra.” – From the introduction to Bowerbird’s performance of Mauricio Kagel’s Zwei Mann Orchester

The room is massive. You can tell that the second you walk in. But the musical contraptions spread out everywhere seem to fill it up top to bottom. There are guitars balanced seemingly precariously over drums, a cello held in place on top of a rocking chair with a rope and pulley attached to one leg, a huge harp mounted on top of a piano with what looks like some dryer tubing wrapped around it, and … is that a sewing machine?! According to Bowerbird Director Dustin Hurt, who is overseeing the construction of Mauricio Kagel’s Zwei Mann Orchester that’s premiering tonight, the idea behind the composition is that, “Music is not just limited to what we do in the concert hall. Music can be found in everyday objects and in sort of the sounds of things that we already hear everyday.” Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: A jam-packed May, from Get Better Fest to Break Free Fest, Tuareg guitar to NYC no-wave, and so much sunshine

design by Erik Ruin | courtesy of the artist

No matter if you spent it out in the streets at the May Day protest or circling a Maypole or just soaking up all that sunshine, I hope you had a wonderful beginning of the month. It’s finally spring, so slap on some shorts, ride that bike you’ve been neglecting all winter, and get your butt to the gig.

You can start tonight. There are not one but two truly excellent shows happening and if you time it correctly you can go to both! Continue reading →

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How Lucky Goat Presents is amplifying African music for an interconnected world

Ibibio Sound Machine | via ibibiosoundmachine.bandcamp.com

If you bring up the phrase ‘world music’ to people, they might think about bands from traditional societies playing traditional tunes while dressed in traditional garb. But it’s 2018 and that trope is stale and should be left in the dust. Like literally everything else in our modern and interconnected world, music and musicians don’t exist in a vacuum. And just because a band is from Nigeria or Indonesia or Ecuador shouldn’t mean that the only way for them to make a living elsewhere in the world is by playing traditional music.

Lucky Goat, an African-owned coffee shop in Brewerytown, is trying to change how these bands are perceived. In their ongoing music series Lucky Goat Presents, owners Toyin Ajayi Frankel and her husband Andrew Frankel are bringing bands from across the continent to Johnny Brenda’s. The series continues tonight with a show by Nigerian-born, London-based Eno Williams and her group Ibibio Sound Machine. The band’s bio says they are “a clash of African and electronic elements inspired in equal measure by the golden era of West African funk, disco, and modern post-punk and electro” and the eight piece proves that correct over and over again on their most recent album, the Merge Records-released Uyai. Continue reading →