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Chris Forsyth to release new full-band LP this October

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band | photo by Constance Mensh
Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band | photo by Constance Mensh

Local guitarist Chris Forsyth has announced a few details of his next explosive and exploratory studio LP Intensity Ghost, out this October on No Quarter Records.  The album follows last year’s Solar Motel effort and is the first recording to feature the band Forsyth assembled for touring, including drummer Steve Urgo, guitarist Paul Sukeena (both of whom are known in the Philly for their own projects as well) and Brooklyn bassist Peter Kerlin.  From No Quarter:

Intensity Ghost is the follow-up to last years critically acclaimed Solar Motel album, which made year ends lists at The New YorkerUncut Magazine and Popmatters and provoked ecstatic comparisons; from Television and Neil Young & Crazy Horse to Richard Thompson and The Grateful Dead…. Forsyth brought the group into the studio in late 2013 to capture what became Intensity Ghost, a 5-track masterwork of grace and power.

Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band close out a summer tour with two hometown dates this month: a free show at the new Spruce Street Harbor Park on Thursday, July 24th and a show with Oneida at Boot & Saddle on July 25th.  Check out a live video of “Little Johnny Jewel” below and take a listen to Forsyth’s 2013 Key Studio Session here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: New Sweden at World Cafe Live at the Queen, Natalie Merchant at Keswick Theatre, Northern Arms at Johnny Brenda’s and more

New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo
New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo

Americana indie-folk band New Sweden will be at World Cafe Live tonight at The Queen. The five-piece band, which just played the Firefly Music Festival in its home state of Delaware, has a robust, scratchy sound that makes it a folk powerhouse. New Sweden is set to release its latest album, Fabric Room, in four days, but is available for streaming now. Check out the song, “Burdened Days” off the new album and go to the XPN Concert Calendar for more information and tickets.

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…celebrating the Schuylkill River and The Blob, the 20th Annual Bastille Day celebration in Fairmount, and more!

blob-movie-poster[1]

The Blobfest 2014 Streetfair is Saturday in front of the Colonial Theater in Phoenixville! This is an annual celebration of the original 1958 cult classic horror movie,The Blob, partially shot in Phoenixville, which was Steve McQueen’s first movie and had a hit title song written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. In it a jellylike thing from outer space lands in rural Pennsylvania and starts consuming townspeople. The free street fair has a fire extinguisher parade, costume contest, and live music. Throughout the day, several Blob related movies will be screened, including the original Blob, The Blob and Mothra, and The Blob and the Giant Spider. Special guests include Kris Yeaworth, son of the director, and Wes Shank, “the caretaker of the blob silicone,” which he acquired in 1965. And The Blob itself will be in attendance!

image courtesy of www.invisibleriver.org
image courtesy of www.invisibleriver.org

Over a 2.5 mile stretch of the Schuylkill River on Saturday and Sunday choreographer Alie Vidich’s Invisible River intends to inspire, stun and educate Philadelphia. Vidich melds aerial stunts, dance, theatre, music and the beauty of the Schuylkill itself to ask viewers: what can we do to sustain this river for years to come? Audience members can catch the spectacle for free on the river banks or buy a ticket (in advance only!) for the full experienceboating along as the show moves downstream in a 65-boat flotilla of dragon boats, kayaks and row boats. 

courtesy of http://groffoto.com/2011/07/20/high-dungeon-let-them-eat-tastykake/
courtesy of http://groffoto.com/2011/07/20/high-dungeon-let-them-eat-tastykake/

Eastern State Penitentiary presents its 20th annual Bastille Day extravaganza Saturday, and this version of the French Revolution has it all — the experimental cabaret group the Bearded Ladies, baguettes, beheadings, confetti cannons, Tastykakes, and appearances by Napoleon and Ben Franklin! The show is free and many neighborhood restauraunts in Fairmount offer drink and food specials and a French themed bar crawl. You can even find help with dressing like a revolutionary to prepare! Continue reading →

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Confessions of a first time Phish concert goer

Photo by Cameron Pollack
Photo by Cameron Pollack

I had heard talk about the insanity of Phish shows since I first began attending concerts. Phish had always been described to me as the best jam band experience since the Grateful Dead, and when I found out that it was going to rain on the first of two sold out Mann Center shows, I knew I was in for a truly unique and memorable first jam band experience.

Parking for the show opened at 9 AM, and by the time I arrived at the Mann, there were tailgaters as far as the eye could see, from the entrance to the picnic areas half a mile away. The night for me began as normal: file in with all the other photographers, socialize for a bit, head to the photo pit. The combination and temperature of the under-cover part of The Mann were unbearable to me, but it didn’t phase the Phish phans for one second, as they passed around and shared water entirely liberally with their fellow concert-goers. One by one as time went on, gargantuan beach balls blew up and made their way all the way down from the lawn to the pit and then back up again. After the beach balls came balloons, glow sticks, and light up balls flying all across the audience.

After about twenty minutes, a booming voice erupted over the monitors, warning terrace and lawn ticket holders that a storm involving hail, powerful gusts of wind, and frequent lightning strikes was converging on The Mann, and the voice advised the ticket holders return to their cars until further notice. However, given that they were at a Phish concert, the phans erupted in cheers at the news of bad weather, entirely ignored the voice over the monitors, and quickly returned to their jovial glow stick throwing state. About ten minutes later, the voice came on again, warning that the storm would arrive in fifteen minutes and it would take approximately that long for phans to get to their cars. Once more, no one seemed to budge. Fifteen minutes later, myself and the other photographers felt mist descending on the pit. Seconds after, we heard screams, and we turned around to find the lawn almost vacant as nearly every phan scattered to find the closest available source of cover, aside from the few ingenious souls who brought bathing suits, ponchos and towels to the gig. After about five minutes of waiting out the storm, the unthinkable happened: The Mann’s main power suddenly shut off, and fourteen thousand people who were previously very happy suddenly were not. We waited for about ten minutes with no update from Phish’s Twitter or Facebook, backup power came back on and cheers erupted from the phans under cover. After more beach ball tossing, the lawn crowd was finally cleared to return and the show got underway around 9:10 PM. After an experience like this, I realized how special the Phish experience was, especially to the phans. At any other outdoor show, fans might have been deterred by the idea of rain or worse. But the Phish phans prevailed through every single obstacle, as nothing was going to drive them away from another night with their jam band heroes.

The actual Phish experience was a similar vein of incredible; from the very first downbeat of the upbeat “Axilla”, every phan was moving and grooving, from the pit to the lawn. The members of Phish themselves weren’t entirely memorable in regard to their stage presence, but that isn’t why people go to Phish shows. Phish’s true strength lies in improvisation and hours upon hours of incessant feel-good grooves. People largely don’t attend Phish shows to idolize band members or sing along to hit choruses; they come to jam, to dance, to be with other phans, and to simply enjoy life. In this regard, Phish undoubtedly delivered, bringing over three hours of pure danceable jams to a loving audience which lapped every jam up. As I explored the crowd after my fifteen minutes in the pit, I found crowds of people mobbing the orchestra aisles dancing as if nothing in the world mattered. I climbed the stairs to the lawn and found many people dancing on the hills by themselves who claimed to have been dancing the entire night, some even before the show started. The crowd, even at the furthest point from the stage, cheered at the end of every guitar and organ solo, and the rowdiness in the pit escalated consistently from the beginning to the end of each set. Jams like the 25:58 long “Fuego” (title track of their new album) and “Walls Of The Cave” were enjoyed unanimously, and highlights for me included “555″ and “Tweezer”.

I expected to have an incredible (but traditional) concert experience from seeing Phish live. Instead, I got a peek into one of the most spectacular feats of jam music I have witnessed, and into the lives of some of the most dedicated, loving fans of any band I’ve ever seen. Below the gallery, check out the set list.

Set list, July 8th – The Mann Center

Axilla
Gumbo
Taste
555
Tube
Halfway to the Moon
Camel Walk
Sparkle
Halley’s Comet
It’s Ice
Ocelot
Walls of the Cave

Set 2:
46 Days
Fuego
The Line
Backwards Down the Number Line
Tweezer
Ghost
2001: A Space Odyssey (Deodato cover)
Harry Hood
Tweezer Reprise

Encore:
Possum

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Julian Casablancas + the Voidz playing Electric Factory October 16th

Julian Casablancas + The Voidz | photo via spin.com
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz | photo via spin.com

Last year The Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas introduced his new project with The Voidz backing him up. The Voidz are made up of Jeff Kite on keys (previously part of Casablancas’ Sick Six live band), Alex Carapetis on drums and percussion (also a former Sick Six member), Jeramy “Beardo” Gritter on guitar, Jake Bercovici on bass and synthesizers, Amir Yahgmai on guitar, and Shawn Everett handling production. After announcing that their debut album Tyranny will drop September 23rd, the act has released a slew of new tour dates, one of which is a show at the Electric Factory on October 16th. Information about the show is available on our concert calendar here; below, check out a video of the band previewing material from the upcoming album.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: La Santa Cecilia at World Cafe Live at the Queen, Into It. Over It. at Fowler Blast Furnace Room, The O’Jays at Dell Music Center and more

la santa cecilia

Catch La Santa Cecilia tonight when they play at World Cafe Live at The Queen. Like a lot of current musicians, La Santa Cecilia is a musical hybrid — taking bits and pieces of Latin, rock and world music. Hailing from the City of Angels, the band’s high energy, fast-paced music will have the blood dancing through your veins. For more information and tickets, check out the XPN Concert Calendar and watch a performance of La Santa Cecilia’s Latin Grammy nominated song, “La Negra,” below.

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