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R.I.P. Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew

Mischief Brew | photo by John Vettese
Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew performing at West Philly’s Cedar Park in 2007 | photo by John Vettese

Heartbreaking news today for the Philadelphia punk rock community – and the music scene at large. Erik Petersen, veteran guitar-slinger and grizzled balladeer, founder of Mischief Brew, captain of the ship at Fistola Records and an eternally enthusiastic dude, has passed away.

The news has been swirling around social media for the past few hours, and was formally reported by Punknews earlier this afternoon. Details are scarce, but it seems Petersen passed away last night. The band’s final performance took place on Friday, July 8th, at The Trocadero opening for his close compatriots and longtime favorites World / Inferno Friendship Society. Mischief Brew was scheduled to perform in the Lehigh Valley tonight at the Square of Opposition / Double Decker Records anniversary; we wouldn’t be surprised if some sort of impromptu tribute bubbles up.

Beyond the whats and the whys and all that, Petersen’s passing is a major loss of a passionate and driven voice in our community. Continue reading →

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Watch Chris Forsyth and The Solar Motel Band perform for NPR’s Tiny Desk, catch them tonight at Johnny Brenda’s

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band
Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band | photo by Kait Privatera | courtesy of the artist

No song is too big for NPR’s Tiny Desk, not even the spacey psych rock marathons of Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band. The Philly locals’ session at NPR Music headquarters was released on Friday, and in it they perform “Harmonious Dance,” “The First Ten Minutes of Cocksucker Blues,” and “Boston Street Lullaby.” Continue reading →

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The High Key Portrait Series: goldenSpiral

goldenSpiral | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
goldenSpiral | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

Adrian Palashevsky’s been hard at work. Over the past few years, the hip hop producer, multimedia artist and DJ — better known as goldenSpiral — has been fashioning beats, collaborating with his Philly music compatriots, and staying up late.

A taste of the results of all that sweat equity is available this week, with the release of the Dark Matter EP at goldenSpiral’s Bandcamp site, where it will be featured exclusively for two weeks prior to international distribution via Empire and Redeye. Published by Kyle Taylor’s Philly-based blog-turned-label Funkadelphia, the EP is a diverse sampling of the producer’s talents and influences, and features vocals from the ethereal Alicia Talia, and rappers Calvin MC, and Voss, whose standout single “NightVision” will have a music video directed by Pipus The Wise out later this Summer.

In the Fall, goldenSpiral will drop a full-length LP that he considers to be definitive work that he’s excited to share, a magnum opus called Waveformation which will also be published on the Funkadelphia label. The album will boast two music videos including single “Eternal Life (dub),” spotlighting vocals from Philly reggae darling Sonni Shine, in case you’ve missed her (and you should have) since The Underwater Sounds called it quits earlier this year.

In the meantime, Dark Matter is live as of noon on Tuesday, July 12th, and Palashevsky is offering the EP on a name-your-price basis, or for fair trade for just an email address. So all you hip hop/glitch/dub-heads, just click on that link and hit refresh, refresh… Continue reading →

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Music For a Better World: A Spotify playlist

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar in the “Alright” video

In times like these, music is more important than ever.

For many, it’s been a difficult month. The past week alone saw the tragic shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota, respectively. It also saw the tragic shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas — Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith — who were protecting a peaceful protest when a sniper opened fire. Sterling and Castile are the latest high-profile cases of black citizens losing their lives during encounters with the authorities in recent years, from Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to Sandra Bland and Freddie Gray. In other areas of the news and the world, hate and senseless violence have reared their heads — from the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people, many of them members of the city’s LGBT+ Latinx community; to the attack on an airport in Istanbul last month that killed 44; to an undercurrent of intolerance that permeated the Brexit vote in the UK.

In short: this is a turbulent month amid turbulent times. And even if we’re not directly affected by the events, they touch us all. Which is where music comes in. Continue reading →

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Watch The Grateful Dead play the last-ever show at JFK Stadium this day in 1989

The Grateful Dead at JFK Stadium in 1989 | via YouTube
The Grateful Dead at JFK Stadium in 1989 | via YouTube

Best known as the half-oval that filled to the brim for Live Aid in 1985, South Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium was something of a nerve center for rock in Philly during the 60s, 70s and 80s – hosting performances that range from Judy Garland’s final show in 1968 to The Rolling Stones in 1978 (headcount: 100,000 people in attendance), Blondie in 1982, and U2 in 1987 for The Joshua Tree tour (headcount: 86,000 in attendance).

Suffice it to say, this place was massive, though by the end of the 80s had outlived its useful existence and was shuttered. Short of the Rolling Stones using it as a practice space for their Steel Wheels tour dress rehearsals – the most epic practice space of all time, wow – the field went dormant and was leveled in 1992 to pave the way for what is now the Wells Fargo Center.

The final show at JFK was a great one – The Grateful Dead performed a two-hour and 53-minute gig at JFK on July 7, 1989, 27 years ago today – but it was at the same time unceremonious. Continue reading →

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Philly Progress Report 2016: What’s new, what’s next in the music scene

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com | courtesy of the artist

The halfway point of 2016 is nigh, making this week an opportune time to look back over the past six months and take the pulse of the Philly music scene. But in a way, that’s easier said than done. As The Key’s staff of contributors weighed in on regional releases we dig in a Facebook group conversation earlier today, the names kept on flying – from the hip-hop sphere (Hardwork MovementLushlife) to singer-songwriter folk (Birdie Busch, Rosali), indie rock (Swanning, Hurry) experimental (Nick Millevoi, Mary Lattimore) and more.

As our Marc Snitzer put it: “It’s only June and that list is huge. We all know how much talent the city boasts but when you go ahead and list it out, it’s bonafide bonkerz.”

Suffice it to say, the Philly music scene is tremendously healthy – and here’s a look at what’s made it thrive so much this year, along with our prognostications for the second half of 2016. The list is thorough but admittedly far from complete…know of anybody we forgot? Shout them out in the comments.

Continue reading →

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Listen to Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES shoutout Hop Along on the How To Be Amazing Podcast

The almighty @chvrches at #Firefly2016! 🙌🏻🙏🏻💃🏻

A photo posted by WXPN (@wxpnfm) on


They may hail from across the pond, but we here at The Key are no strangers to CHVRCHES. They took over the Electric Factory last October just after releasing their sophomore album Every Open Eye, played XPN’s SXSW showcase in March, and we were even lucky enough to catch the at Firefly over the weekend.

On Monday, the latest episode of the How To Be Amazing podcast was released, and it features CHVRCHES’ own Lauren Mayberry. She sits down with host Michael Ian Black for an engaging and enjoyable hour long chat, discussing her recent move from Glasgow to Brooklyn; speaking out against misoginy and the role of women in music; the fact that she pronounces schedule as “shed-jule” but claimed to not have an accent; how a TED Talk changed her life, and much more. At the end, when Black asks for music she’s been listening to lately, Mayberry shouts out Philly’s own Hop Along (!!!). You can (and should) listen to the podcast below. Continue reading →

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Listen to David Sweeny (aka Johnny Showcase) on the 25 O’Clock Podcast

Johnny Showcase
Johnny Showcase | Photo by Jeremy Quattlebaum for WXPN

Anyone who has seen a show from Johnny Showcase and The Mystic Ticket know that what they do on stage is more than just an ordinary concert. They are musicians who wholeheartedly commit themselves to taking on a character and do so to make the event an experience like no other for their audience. In describing the latest episode of his 25 O’Clock Podcast, Dan Drago admits that when he contacted David Sweeny (aka Johnny Showcase) to come on the show, Sweeny countered by asking if Drago wanted to interview Sweeny himself, or his character, being Johnny Showcase. Yes, it is a tad confusing, but it speaks to how serious Sweeny is about his transformation into a performer separate from his everyday self. Continue reading →

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Hinds bring the party to a Monday night at Union Transfer.

Hinds | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com
Hinds | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

After a terrible weekend, I believe that many of us needed a release.  Monday isn’t a prime party day, but I needed the positivity, I needed the community, and I hadn’t really planned it, but I needed this Hinds concert at Union Transfer.  Their unbridled optimism, mixed with a hard dose of good old rock and roll was what plenty of people needed.  Garage, lo-fi, whatever you wanna call it, it’s undeniably fun. Continue reading →