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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes’ five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly

The author, pondering her coastal allegiance | illustration by Sarah Hughes

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes shares how Los Angeles began to remind her of Philly this year.

It’s official, folks — I am a Los Angeles veteran these days and there is no denying it. After a solid two and a half years over in La La Land, I can say that I have become accustomed to the California ways of life. Avocado toast here, rooftop cocktails there; it’s all become part of my everyday. I barely even notice palm trees these days!

So as I’ve continued living in this flashy city, I’ve stumbled upon a handful of locations this past year that I believe, deep down, are Philadelphia. Sure, perhaps they’re technically located in Los Angeles, but whether it be the down-to-earth vibes or the DIY mentality, there is certainly some Philly in this city. These are my top five places in Los Angeles that are basically Philly. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Koof Ibi Umoren’s favorite non-traditional venues of 2017

Under the Greys Ferry Bridge | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Koof Ibi Umoren (who plays trumpet with West Philadelphia Orchestra, Little Strike and a host of others) shares Philly’s best non-traditional venues to perform at in 2017.

Traditional music venues need musicians and beer in order to successful. This year has proven that musicians need beer, but not necessarily the traditional music venues. A musician can spend a lot of time performing in Philadelphia without setting foot on a traditional stage. If you’re smart and you chose an acoustic instrument in elementary school, and didn’t give it up for a cooler electronic instrument in college, then the world is literally your stage This year I’ve had the pleasure of playing and attending shows at some very interesting Philadelphia “venues,” and here’s a recap of some of my favorites. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Brendan Menapace’s favorite concert moments of 2017

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Brendan Menapace reflects on his concert highlights.

We are spoiled when it comes to the amount of good shows that happen in Philadelphia. Every night of the week there’s something going on. So, needless to say, I’ve been to a handful of shows this year. I won’t recount what my favorite shows of the year were per se, but I do have a few specific memories from the shows that stand out to me as the year comes to a close. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Sarah Hughes’ best album artwork of 2017

St. Vincent’s Masseduction

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Sarah Hughes reflects on the year’s most eye-catching album covers.

Album art seems to be slowly creeping into the background of the music industry, especially with the digital realm taking over; it’s easy to dismiss an artist’s album cover when it is merely displayed in a small profile icon on an internet page. However, artists still jump at the chance to carry home their musical thoughts with engaging visuals and 2017 definitely did not disappoint. Filled with lush colors, vibrant concepts and eye-popping aesthetics, this year produced some of the finest work yet. After combing through the best of 2017, I’ve selected 5 of my favorite album covers this year. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Rob Huff’s favorite queer music moments of 2017

Perfume Genius
Perfume Genius | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Rob Huff reflects on five musical moments that offered solace and inspired strength in the LGBTQ community.

5. Austra’s Future Politics presented a path forward

There’s no nice way to put it. This year sucked. It started bleak, and despite moments of mild respite here and there, managed to end even bleaker. The idea of a future worth inhabiting after the onslaught that was 2017 can still seem laughable. It was downright unfathomable on January 20th when the current administration took control and blew open a gaping political Hellmouth.

And yet, through sheer serendipity, the new album from queer synth-popera artist Katie Stelmanis arrived on that same day. Originally written in the aftermath of personal turmoil, Future Politics doubled as a balm for the doom and gloom that cloaked the country in the wake of an election year where the personal arguably became more political than ever. Songs like the softly pummeling title track and the pulsing “Utopia” – immaculately rendered on record and rivetingly performed at Union Transfer just a week later – stuck with me throughout 2017’s tumultuous twelve months, making the idea of any future at all beyond then, let alone one where anyone “other” gets to have a say, feel just a little more possible. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Lauren Rosier’s top five Central Pennsylvania shows

The Peterson Brothers | photo by Lauren Rosier for WXPN
The Peterson Brothers | photo by Lauren Rosier for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Lauren Rosier shares her favorite live music moments from Central PA.

Once again, we’ve reached the end of another year, and the love/hate relationship I have with year-end lists! Regardless, it was a tumultuous year, to say the least, and as like many American citizens, music was my outlet.

Living in Central Pennsylvania doesn’t have the same level of a music scene that Philly does, but many people from different areas of the music industry are trying to change that. Some of my top 5 live shows in Central Pennsylvania are because of that. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Matthew Shaver’s best food and tune pairings in Philadelphia

The Tasty | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com
The Tasty | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Matthew Shaver ponders unlikely combinations of eats and sounds.

Eating out is meant to be a social event, a gathering of friends and family where someone else does the hard work, leaving you to drink and be merry. Time and circumstances align every so often that I eat out alone, my only company are my headphones and an iPod full of hopes and dreams. Like fine friends or fine wine, fine music can be associated with a great restaurant, or a great plate. I’ve listed some of my favorite pairings below (Note: I am a vegetarian, and the choices all reflect that.) Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Morrison’s five haikus for the homies

Naeemah Maddox | photo by Kev Steele | courtesy of the artist
Naeemah Maddox | photo by Kev Steele | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer John Morrison shares five haiku reviews of releases by his Philly friends.

2017 was a fantastic year for music in Philadelphia. As a lifelong resident of this city, I’ve been blessed to build relationships with many brilliant DJs, MCs, producers and musicians. To honor those relationships and to celebrate this incredible year of music, I’ve compiled a list of my Top 5 favorite local releases, and written a short Haiku to capture the spirit of each.

Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Brendan Menapace’s artists that should just move to Philly already

Pup | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Brendan Menapace beckons a handful of bands to move to the 215.

Philadelphia is awesome. We know this. From huge rooms with expensive sound systems and multiple bars to batting cages, we have some of the best places to check out live music in the country. We’ve cultivated the growth of artists that are now world-renowned, and we’ve played adoptive home to artists who have moved here. I think it’s great that bands and artists want to move to Philly, especially coming from places that used to be the hubs of culture, like New York or LA. Given how huge Philly is (and thanks to the condos that are popping up everywhere, we guess?) we have plenty of room for more people. So, here are a few bands that I think should just move to Philadelphia already, rather than prolonging the inevitable. Continue reading →