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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…HALLOWEEEEEEN!

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“Don’t come as your are, come as you want to be” is the theme of Henri David’s Halloween Ball, now in its 46th year!  This biggest and brightest of costume events offers some of the City’s most outrageous dressing up, culminating in a midnight costume contest with prizes for Most Sensual Fantasy (new this year!), Most Horrifying, Best Period Costume, Most Hysterical and on and on.  One of the great treats is Henri himself, always dressed fabulously, and towering over you on stilts!  It starts at 9:00 p.m. at the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown Hotel.

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Unlocked: Hey, Punks of Baltimore, this one’s for you; DRGN KING’s Dom Angelella shares his Baltimore Crush

Photo by Blake Gumprecht
Christine Cunnif, Lucy Stone, Ricardo Lagomasinos, Dominic Angelella | Photo by Blake Gumprecht

 

The sophomore album from DRGN KING, Baltimore Crush, feels personal. As an outsider, you’re immediately invited into this fuzzy psychedelic reality where suddenly there’s places and people who feel important. You know their behaviors, dreams, flaws and fears. That’s personal. This world comes from the strength of songwriting from frontman Dom Angelella, whose upbringing among the Baltimore DIY crowd comes out in this love letter of sorts to the scene. As a place where his self-discovery started to take shape, listeners gain a very real picture of what this scene means to those who were, are, and will be influencing/influenced by such a hotbed of creativity. This album thrashes in that convergence of ideas.  I hung out with Dom recently to ask him about the album, and he shared some insight into Moments Where Things Changed for him as well as fears and goals cultivated from the environment around him. Continue reading →

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20 more Philadelphia concerts you should go to if you ever invent a time machine

LIve Aid | via retropopplanet.blogspot.com

Earlier this year, we made a list of Philadelphia concerts from the city’s rock-era history that, given access to a time machine, would be amazing to check out. It would be the live music junkie’s dream: being able to see Chuck Berry in his prime as well as catching huge bands like Nirvana and The Black Keys when they were just starting out. Of course 20 doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of Philadelphia’s concert history, and when the list got a lot of response, we compilied another round of noteworthy performances from days gone by. Check it out below. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: The Key’s Review of DRGN King’s Baltimore Crush

Baltimore Crush artwork by Perry Shall | http://www.perryshall.com/
DRGN King’s Baltimore Crush | artwork by Perry Shall | http://www.perryshall.com/

“Do you remember we would go to church and play the pool shark?” trills Dom Angelella on “St. Tom’s,” the second track from DRGN King’s Baltimore Crush. This line is just one example of many that invites listeners into this fuzzy world of basement-moshers-with-guitars on the album, a follow-up to 2013’s Paragraph Nights.

Baltimore Crush isn’t just a shift from their debut LP; it’s a progression into a different branch of rock. Sure, the ten-track album still has touches of DRGN King’s signature electronic influences, but the driving forces on this effort come from thrash-worthy guitar solos counteracted by relaxed surf vibes, which in itself could be a description of the people the album’s written for; coasting along but screwing up big time in an attempt to mask unreached potential.

The percussion on “Solo Harp,” which the band played at the 2013 XPoNential Music Festival, has this intensity that personifies how important the rest of the album is, making it an interesting yet appropriate choice as the last track on the record. It hearkens back more familiarly to earlier work from DRGN King, but the song’s themes provide a fitting conclusion for this new album as well. Baltimore Crush is a spectacular collection of feelings about the common overwhelming pressure to break out and do something huge and what it’s like to watch people flounder along as they fail to meet those expectations.

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Scariest set in the city? A look at Eastern State Penitentiary’s most famous videos

The Dead Milkmen's "Punk Rock Girl" video features Joe Jack Talcum singing in the Rotunda as Rodney Anonymous walking around the cellblocks of ESP reading a newspaper
The Dead Milkmen’s “Punk Rock Girl” video features Joe Jack Talcum singing in the Rotunda as Rodney Anonymous walking around the cellblocks of ESP reading a newspaper

Most Philadelphians are familiar with Fairmount’s massive landmark Eastern State Penitentiary. The looming structure, which closed in 1971 after 142 years as a prison, reopened in 1994 for guided tours, and has since become a destination for thrill-seekers during Bastille Day and Halloween season. However, beyond the zombie-fied chaos, the space itself offers an amazing backdrop for, well, anything.  We decided to look back at a few ways musicians and other visual artists have used ESP over the last few decades. Continue reading →

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Forget What the #885Countdown Votes Say: The greatest music of all time is happening right now

Strand of Oaks | Photo by John Vettese
Bruce Springsteen is okay and all, but I’d much rather listen to Strand of Oaks | Photo by John Vettese

One of the funnier things I saw this week while on #885countdown hashtag-watch came in the form of a joke-hashtag from Twitter user @bob_perst: #roadtothunderroad. Before we even hit the top 10, the number one was a foregone conclusion: it was going to Bruce Springsteen, it was going to be “Thunder Road.” Because of course.

This speaks to the immense, immense love of The Boss not just in general, but particularly in the Philly / South Jersey region and doubly so among XPN’s audience. It also speaks, to a (somewhat dismaying) degree, of how easy these countdowns can be to predict. It’s going to be Bruce, or Bob Dylan, or The Beatles at the top, the latter of whom racked up an unfathomable 47 songs in the countdown this year.

Predictability sort of comes with the territory, though. When thousands of people are voting on their favorite songs, can I really expect the R.E.M. deep cut from my list to actually chart in a meaningful kind of way? Continue reading →

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#885countdown Talk: What makes a song “the worst?”

Journey clowning around in the 80s. Many people think they wrote some of the worst songs ever, others stringently defend them. Or so we hear.
Journey clowning around in the 80s. Many people think they wrote some of the worst songs ever, others stringently defend them. Or so we hear.

As we’re winding down the 885 All Time Greatest Songs countdown playback, we’re also looking forward to part two of the countdown – the playback of the 88 Worst Songs. The notion of “best,” “greatest” and “worst” are, of course, quite subjective. Which will explain why (partial spoiler alert) there will be some songs on both the 885 All Time Greatest and 88 Worst Songs. As Paul Simon once said, “one man’s ceiling is another man’s floors;” or – to put it a slightly different way – “one person’s trash is another’s treasure.”

As we get ready to play the worst songs (as voted on by the WXPN community) tomorrow starting at 10 a.m., we want to know: “what exactly makes a worst song?” Continue reading →

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl…Major American photographer, open studios, spooky stuff, and lots of theater!

One of Paul Strand's famous works, Wall Street, New York 1915
One of Paul Strand’s famous works, Wall Street, New York 1915

Major American filmmaker and photographer Paul Strand has a new retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography features over two hundred of his prints, taken over six decades, displaying street portraits, machines, images of nature. Three of his films are showing, including his most well known avant-garde work, Manhatta. Through January 6th.

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The best 24 or 25 tweets we’ve seen about the #885countdown (so far)

The above tweet by Philly illustrator Matt Friedman showed up in our Twitter feed yesterday, and nicely sums up the beauty and hilarity of WXPN’s 885 Greatest Songs of All Time countdown. With music jumping all over the spectrum, it sometimes feels delightfully random; with like a bazillion Beatles selections ranking so far, it also feels somewhat predictable; and then, out of nowhere, there will be this sick transition between “Penny Lane” and “Rebellion (Lies)” by Arcade Fire, and you’ll be like “holy cow that was amazing” and you keep listening. It keeps you hooked. Equally addictive is the #885countdown hashtag on Twitter, where some amazing conversation and commentary has been unfolding. Here is some of the best of what we’ve seen so far. Continue reading →