For the touring acts playing – and certainly the audience watching – this year’s XPoNential Music Festival can be summed up as a fun weekend full of great music, great people and relatively little rain.
But for local bands playing the festival, it means just a little bit more. For some, it was their first time playing outdoors in a festival setting. Others were returning to play for the third or fourth time. Several artists thought their sets went well, but a few had technical difficulties or other problems to work through.
From the Marina stage to the Susquehanna Bank Center, the hometown audience seemed to clap a little louder and listen a little more intently to the local acts. For Philly-based pop rock outfit Viv and the Revival, the first act to perform Friday, the admiration even elicited shouts of, “You rock!” and “Way to start our festival!” from the crowd. Continue reading →
Music, food and culture app Supper recently sat down with The War on Drugs’ Robbie Bennett and Dave Hartley, to talk about their favorite places to eat and listen to music in Philly. They recommend spots from Chestnut Hill to West Philly and of course show some love for the burgers at Johnny Brenda’s. To hear more reccommendationss from the band read the full article over on Supper here.
“We’ve been open, what, 26 years now?” His voice goes up at the end as if he’s asking me. Of course, Dan Matherson is aware of how long his store has been open. He’s just being modest, which is impressive given that he owns and operates a record store, selling music in a physical format even as the industry trends digital.
The first Repo Records opened in 1986 in the main line suburb of Wayne. The side street it was located on was the best location Matherson could find given his tight budget. “The rent was so cheap, like, $400 a month,” he says. The slab of real estate wasn’t the best, but Matherson was able to draw in customers by advertising on train stops and fliers posted around the locality. As his business expanded, he relocated to a second site in Bryn Mawr, where business took off. Eventually, he was able to open a second store on the 500 block of South Street in Philadelphia – the main hub for Repo since the Bryn Mawr location closed in the mid-aughts.
Matherson grew up in Devon, an area in which the few existing record stores were chains, which typically sold whatever was at the top of the charts that week. However, New York was his home away from home, and it was there that he would frequent record stores of a different type. The record stores in New York didn’t care about what was popular. They sold what was good. Knowing there was nothing like this in his Pennsylvania suburb, Matherson found his calling.
He nicked the store’s name from the 1984 movie, Repo Man. Given the movie’s punk rock soundtrack featuring artists like Iggy Pop and Circle Jerks, he figured it would make a good name for his store, which specializes in punk and underground records.
Matherson is a huge fan of punk; he loves bands like Joy Division and The Buzzcocks. In 1981, he traveled to New York to see The Clash play at Bond’s Casino, which he described as “one of the greatest things I’ve ever done.”
As he lists some of his favorite bands, it’s clear he’s quite the rock and roll connoisseur. He gravitates towards lots of new wave bands from the late 70s and early 80s such as Wire, The Teardrop Explodes, and especially The Chameleons. In fact, Matherson helped organize a Chameleons concert at J.C. Dobbs when he found out the band had no Philadelphia dates on its 2006 American tour. Continue reading →
It’s one of those double-edged swords of being a music journalist. Unless you’re a shameless mooch – the sort our buddies at Philebrity once pointedly dubbed “promosexual” – you probably made your way into the industry so you could turn other people on to artists that you’re personally excited about. However, in the process of doing that, you kinda sorta have to hit up those artists (or their label / industry reps) for freebies from time to time.
As a writer, there are various ways to altruistically handle this. One, simply purchase anything you’re writing about with your own money (nobody does this). Two, approach the artist / their people and ask for a download of the 7″ single / LP full-length / cassette you’re looking to review. Three, if advance leakage and lack of mp3 monetization are a concern for the artist or label, simply make do with a streaming-only version of the music (not as portable as a download, but whatever) and use that in your research.
Amazingly, in 2014, there are still journalists who require a physical copy of a release before they cover it. This recently led to a curious incident involving Japanese Breakfast, the solo lo-fi project of Little Big League’s Michelle Zauner.
The project’s two 2014 EPs are being released as a limited-run cassette, American Sound and Where is My Great Big Feelingvia Sea Green Records this month. Zauner was recently hit up by a music blogger for a copy of the aforementioned limited-run cassette, and the exchange was a little disheartening. She was upset enough that she posted the emails to her Tumblr page last night – we’ll leave the blogger’s name out of this on our end, but if you’re curious, Zauner did identify them in her post.
Here’s how it went down: Zauner replied that she couldn’t afford to send a copy of the cassette, however, free downloads are available on her Bandcamp page, and the writer could feel free to review that. “It will most likely sound better on your computer anyway,” she joked. The blogger didn’t find this funny. Continue reading →
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!
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 experience…boating along as the show moves downstream in a 65-boat flotilla of dragon boats, kayaks and row boats.
At historic Fort Mifflin’s Freedom Blast! the American flag is raised at 10:15 Saturday to kick off a day of readings of the Declaration of Independence, cannon and gun demonstrations and tours of the forts casemates (storage areas built into hills) guided by Revolutionary War era living history soldiers and civilians in authentic dress. The fort is one of Philadelphia’s gems, and you get an added boost of anachronism with the planes flying overhead to land at the Philadelphia Airport.
The Wawa Welcome America festival, which began earlier this week, gets underway at 10 am Friday with the Celebration of Freedom ceremony on the steps of Independence Hall, made extra special this year since it’s the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision paving the way for integration and the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This is followed by a parade through Historic Philadelphia, ringing of the Liberty Bell, and the annual celebration on the Ben Franklin Parkway from noon on ending with the big free concert, this year featuring The Roots, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Aloe Blacc and Vicci Martinez, and culminating as always with fireworks over the Philadelphia Museum of Art!
Betsy will be in two places at once because she’ll also be at the iconic Betsy Ross House for Betsy’s Independence Day Bash, complete with a children’s naturalization ceremony and ceremonial bell ringing.
Also Friday Colonial reenactors are encamped at 6th and Market Streets and will perform cannon drills, and John Adams is available for a chat at the Historic Philadelphia Center.
Saturday such luminaries as Martha Washington, Baron Von Steuben, Thomas Jefferson and Octavious Cotto, who was a major in the Union Army in the Civil War and later registered black voters in Philadelphia, will be at Historic Philadelphia sites…and there are many activities for the kids.
Aside from 4th of July celebrations, other events are happening this weekend…
The Awesome Fest presents a free outdoor 20th anniversary screening of The Crow Saturday at Liberty Lands on North American Street in Philadelphia. This 1994 American supernatural action film was based on James O’Barr’s 1989 comic book and tells the story of a rock musician who is revived from the dead to avenge his murder and that of his fiancée. Rochelle Davis, who appears as Sarah in the movie, will be there!
Arch Street’s Fabric Workshop and Museum has been exhibiting photography by Ray Metzger, Will Brown, and David Graham. Brown captures still street photos, Metzger is well known for his black-and-white city-scapes, and Graham’s landscape work has been described as “bizarre” and “vibrant.” The exhibits stay up through the end of the summer.
Spiritual Strivings:A Celebration of African American Works on Paper is at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts It presents two collections. There are 70 works from the expansive Harmon & Harriet Kelley collection that spans the 20th century and is considered the preeminent collection of its kind (through October 12th)…and Eldzier Cortor:Theme and Variations from a living artist in his 90s who has just made a generous gift of his work to PAFA (through August 31st).
It was once known as The Arch Street Opera House. Over the past century and a half, it’s been called a lot of things (according to its Wikipedia page, anyhow) including: Park Theatre, Gaiety Theatre, Slocum’s and Sweatman’s Theatre (a personal favorite), and Sweatman’s Arch Street Opera House. Most recently it goes by the name The Trocadero Theater, or it’s more colloquial name, The Troc.
Fast forward 144 years past the recorded birth date, and I find myself trying to prove to a group of diligent, extremely friendly employees that I belong in this prestigious venue a few hours before doors open. A well-established home for movies, comedy, pop and – moreso, I think, than any other venue in Philadelphia – hard fucking rock.
The latter of which is why I was there. My credentials checked out, and I find myself walking through the empty lobby, out in to the spacious arena, around the elevated staging area, up an ancient set of stairs, down a dark, very ominous hallway, and in to “the back room” which also happens to be the literal back room.
I guess this is where the fantasy ends, though. [continue]
The big event of the weekend is the second Make Music Philly, the Philadelphia version of a worldwide event celebrating music on the longest day of the year, the first day of summer. Planned on World Music Day, the global observance encourages the do-it-yourself attitude that makes music so accessible from novices to skilled performers. From 8 am to 8 pm on Saturday, venues all across Philly will host free music events, with highlights being a festival at Clark Park, performances at the Franklin Institute, and shows at the Fleisher Art Memorial. Join WXPN for our kick off at 10AM at Love Park for a play along percussion jam with the Philly Drum Project. We’ll be ending the evening at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing with a harmonica jam session and play along hosted by John Colgan-Davis followed by a concert with Ted Leo and R&B singer Lee Fields & The Expression