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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Joe Jack Talcum at Boot and Saddle, Ross Bellenoit at Ortlieb’s

The Dead Milkmen
The Dead Milkmen | Photo by Morgan Smith for WXPN | phobymo.com

Philly rock scene vet Joe Jack Talcum – guitarist and singer for The Dead Milkmen – wraps up a short spring tour with F. Woods tonight at Boot & Saddle. From acoustic solo cassettes in the 80s and 90s to side projects like Butterfly Fairweather and The Cheesies, and splits with Mischief Brew and Ratboy, Joe is a busy songwriter. Philly’s F. Woods, formerly of Mercury Radio Theater, is working on a followup to his 2015 solo debut Found On Road Dead — read an interview with him about his wildly eclectic project here. Opening the show is a solo set from T.J. Kong, aka grizzleld storytelling songwriter Dan Bruscewicz, who is due for a new release of his own. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →

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Break Free Fest Spotlight: Minority Threat

Minority Threat | via minoritythreat.bandcamp.com

“For years punk and hardcore have been deemed white genres of music,” write the organizers of Philly’s Break Free Fest, “pushing aside and ignoring people of color who have been shaping it for years.” The festival, which takes place on Saturday, May 27th at The Rotunda in West Philadelphia, seeks to bring those marginalized artists together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Minority Threat / Columbus, Ohio
minoritythreat.bandcamp.com

1. Who is in the band, how long have you been around for, and how would you describe what you’re doing to someone who might not be familiar?

Minority Threat is Jordan (vocals), Antonio (drums), Winston (bass) and Darrell (guitar). We’ve been doing the band for about two years. We all grew up in punk/hardcore in different cities all over Ohio, and none of us had bands around that spoke on issues from a person of color’s perspective. Once we all met, we decided to make the band we always wanted to see.

2. What are you most excited about when it comes to Break Free Fest?

Every other band that’s playing. The lineup is unreal. Continue reading →

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Cloud Nothings lead a four-band bill of gritty indie rock at Chameleon Club

Cloud Nothings | photo by Lauren Rosier for WXPN

Cleveland indie rock band Cloud Nothings played a killer, high-energy set to close out a four-band bill at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club on Sunday night. Blending the grittiness and raw power of garage rock with the high energy of pop punk, the band went in heavy and unrelenting; throughout the set, lead vocalist and guitarist Dylan Baldi was one of the hardest playing guitarists I’ve seen live.

The quartet performed songs from their latest release, Life Without Sound, as well as tracks from older releases including “I’m Not Part of Me” from Here And Nowhere Else. They had great energy in their musicianship, but the stage presence could’ve been a little more enthusiastic. The crowd nonetheless showed their enthusiasm for Cloud Nothings’ music through singing along and much head bopping. I wasn’t so keen on the muddy layering of instruments and vocals; I’ve seen countless bands in my life and it’s always bothered me when the instruments and vocals aren’t balanced. On the other hand, I’m wondering if it’s part of the band’s live sound. Continue reading →

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Spruce Street Harbor Park’s summer concert series includes Donn T, Louie Louie, Cruisr, Derrick Hodge and so many more

roots picnic
Donn T | Photo by John Vettese

Free concerts at the Delaware Waterfront’s Spruce Street Harbor Park have become a highlight of every summer over the past four years, and this year brings one of the strongest lineups yet.

Kicking off on June 1st with Straw Hats and The Retinas, the series runs every Thursday night through August 31st, when it wraps with two sets by West Philadelphia Orchestra. In between, Philly artists like singer-songwriter Donn T, retro rock four-piece Louie Louie, indie pop outfit Cruisr, jazz bassist Derrick Hodge, rapper Chill Moody, rockers Oldermost and more will perform. The shows are all free and open to the public. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: The Spirit of the Beehive and Abi Reimold will open for The Districts at Union Transfer

The Spirit Of The Beehive | photo by Emily Burtner | courtesy of the artist
The Spirit Of The Beehive | photo by Emily Burtner | courtesy of the artist

We’re very excited for The Districts‘ forthcoming third LP Popular Manipulations around here at Key HQ, especially after watching them slay five new songs from the record at NonCOMM last week. To make their August 11th album release party at Union Transfer even more of an event, the band just announced the openers for the show, and it’s turned into a tremendous all-Philly bill. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Marian Hill at TLA, Pixies at Electric Factory

Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com
Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com

Philly-founded electro duo Marian Hill returns hope with a performance at the TLA tonight. Mixing lead singer, Samantha Gongol’s jazzy stylings with Jeremy Lloyd’s cool, hypnotic beats, the group is a perfect balance of old-school swing and fresh production. Find info on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar, and watch the video for their addicting song, “Down,” below. Continue reading →

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The xx and Sampha dazzle the Mann Center’s Skyline Stage

The xx | photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN

Summer musical performances in West Fairmount Park is always a holistic experience – the skyline, landscape, stars, and grooves.  That rang true Wednesday as the Skyline Stage at the Mann kicked off their summer season.  Introduced in the summer of 2012, the Skyline Stage gives the Mann an opportunity to expand its concert offerings with a more intimate experience.  An experience necessary for the stellar bill of Sampha and The xx.

Sampha opened the show just as the sun started to sink in the sky behind backlit trees.  Leading with “Timmy’s Prayer,” a ballad co-written by Kanye West which fully displays how Sampha’s voice hits you on a more spiritual level.  His vocal delivery from start to finish was strong and emotive.  His falsetto, seemingly more delicate than most, rarely came close to its breaking point no matter how high he pushed it. Continue reading →

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Mike Watt and Meat Puppets rattle the windows at Underground Arts

Mike Watt | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Thumping his way through a sonorous solo, Mike Watt makes this pronouncement to a full basement at Underground Arts: “BASSSSSS!!” The delivery of both the declaration and the music is definitive, as if to make one thing clear: if you weren’t sure whether you’d ever heard a bassline before, you can be sure here, tonight. Watt stretches the single word affirmatively over the sounds, and lets it hang there for awhile. It’s not condescending; it’s instructive, as though at the end of a Sesame Street bit, as though we’ve just learned how to sound it out together, right there on the spot, with his guidance. Tonight’s set has been brought to you by the the letter “B.”

If you’re cool, you know of Watt from his heady hardcore days with The Minutemen and Firehose, in the seminal Southern Cali punk scene. But if you’re like me, you first heard about him when he mixed it up with the likes of more widely recognized ‘90s icons. Released in 1995, Watt’s first “solo” record Ball-Hog or Tugboat? was an ensemble effort, a virtual who’s-who of alt-rock featuring the likes of Frank Black, Thurston Moore, Kathleen Hanna, Anna Waronker and Flea, as well as Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl who joined him for the tour and who helped spotlight the bassist for some overdue mainstream attention. Continue reading →