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Low struck reflective chords at Johnny Brenda’s last night

low
Low | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com

Critics may contend that Low frontman Alan Sparhawk was a mid-90’s iconoclast, in a way, having eschewed the predominant contemporary genres of Duluth, Minnesota in favor of the music that Low became known for: a subdued and often dark brand of moody rock and roll. On the other hand, the 90’s outside of Duluth were full of that too, from Tanya Donelly’s somber psychedelic strokes on Belly’s excellent debut record Star to the era’s lo-fi poster kids My Bloody Valentine.

But, forget the 90’s for a minute, because the era isn’t necessarily always relevant in the context of this band. The most distinctive element of Low’s music and stagecraft lie in the signature, often haunting harmonies between Sparhawk and wife Mimi Parker, as she lightly dusts her snares with her trademark percussion brushes. Together with bassist and keyboard player Steve Garrington, Low created a compelling mood at Johnny Brenda’s last night, approved of in tacit head-nods by a legion of devoted fans at the sold out show, the same fans that forgave them for rescheduling a Philly appearance last Fall interrupted by a papal visit, and who turned out in numbers on a rainy Winter night regardless.

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“A Rock Version of Cirque du Soleil”: Muse brings Sunday night madness to Wells Fargo Center

Muse | Photo by Joe del Tufo for WXPN | deltufophotography.com
Muse | Photo by Joe del Tufo for WXPN | deltufophotography.com

It is to their credit that Muse have been able to build such a massive following in the US. The are a catchier, edgier, cousin of Radiohead, and not the kind of band you typically see filling arenas here. But their live shows are a spectacle, and last night the Wells Fargo Center was no exception.

Playing in the round, their show opened with a note about the the number of people killed by drones. A dozen or so stormtroopers with laser eyes surrounded the stage while the band rose from three stands at separate ends of the arena. Clear spherical drones hovered and pointed spotlights around the crowd as the band launched into “Psycho,” one of their stronger tracks from 2015’s Drones. Continue reading →

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Hard work pays off, Hardwork Movement packs it in at KFN

Hardwork Movement | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Hardwork Movement | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

“I do not think Kung Fu Necktie knew what they were getting into when they agreed to have us play here,” Jeremy Keys told a packed house at the Fishtown venue on January 7th.

When I say packed, I don’t exaggerate. From the moment you got to the top of the stairs at Hardwork Movement‘s release party, it was wall-to-wall people filling up the bar, into the secondary room (what the heck do we call that…the dance floor? the chillout room? the place with couches?) and on the way to the stage tucked away in the far room. Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out: The Districts pack it in for a celebratory Electric Factory gig

Photo by John Vettese
The Districts’ guitar cases line the Electric Factory stage | Photo by John Vettese

It’s a special occasion the first time a Philly artist headlines the cavernous Callowhill venue The Electric Factory. We’ve seen it with Dr. Dog, we’ve seen it with The Wonder Years.

When you step out on that stage, and you know in your head that it’s the same room you crowded into so you could watch your favorite bands as a teenage kid – maybe you took the subway downtown from your neighborhood, perhaps you drove in from the surrounding burbs and grabbed sketchy street parking, nervously hoping that your car would be there when you return, or you waited on Spring Garden Street for your parents to pick you up at the end of the night. It’s that place, only now you’ve got this view you never had before, not of the stage but from it, looking out at an enormous room. And it’s packed. And it occurs to you that these people are there to see you…

I’ve heard it described as humbling. I’ve heard it described as exhilarating. You can call it some serious circle of life stuff. And it’s something that Philadelphia by-way-of Lititz rockers The Districts experienced back in November as they wrapped a year of heavy international touring in support of their acclaimed debut LP A Flourish and a Spoil with their biggest headlining hometown show, and one of their biggest shows ever.    Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Foxing

Foxing | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Foxing | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Foxing are a force of nature. Anyone who’s seen the St. Louis post-emo six-piece in the past year-and-a-half of relentless touring can attest to that fact. Frontman Conor Murphy brings a fearsome energy to the stage, roaring his unbelievably personal lyrics over an oceanic soundscape spooled out drop by drop, each twinkling guitar note and choir sample weaving together as fluidly and surely as tidal erosion.

The combination of blistering passion and ace talent hasn’t gone unnoticed, with the band being hand-selected to support emo titans Brand New, and later joining Philly friends Modern Baseball and mewithoutYou for tours as well, stealing shows and hearts all the while.

But Foxing is at its best with emotions running high, and this isn’t limited to a room full of screaming, sobbing fans—like the one they tore apart at Union Transfer early in December. Some of Foxing’s most visceral moments come not in the raging choruses of songs like “Rory” and “the Medic,” but in the layered introspection and lightly wafting lyrics from Murphy. Continue reading →

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PHL to ATL: A disposable camera travelogue from RECPhilly’s music roadtrip

Team RECPhilly mobbin out  at Atanta's A3C conference | Photo via RECPhilly
Team RECPhilly mobbin out at Atanta’s A3C conference | Photo via RECPhilly

This fall, Philly music startup RECPhilly rounded up about a dozen and a half members of its extended fam, piled in two vans and drove south to Atlanta for the A3C Music Conference, an annual gathering that over the past decade has grown into the SXSW of hiphop.

Along with attending a bevy of panels and networking meetups, the group was responsible for one of the showcases – and a lineup featuring Philadelphians Milton, Armani White, Voss, Tierra Whack, Theodore Grams and Eddie Madird.

Taking a cue from Noisey as well as ImposeMagazine, we sent the REC #squad off with a bag of disposable cameras to document their week in ATL. Continue reading →

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Clutch channeled the spirit of Lemmy at The Electric Factory

Clutch | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com
Clutch | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com

On the night that Lemmy Kilmister died, two members of Clutch stepped on the stage donning Motorhead t-shirts. I like to think they had them packed for the tour. And their set had that feel to it – that at the heart of all of the riffing and spieling and stomping around the stage, the Motorhead DNA was in there beneath it all. Continue reading →