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The War on Drugs blissed out The Tower for their biggest hometown show to date

vThe War on Drugs | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com
vThe War on Drugs | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

War on Drugs shows becoming a major event is a trend I can get behind. Last night, the Philly psych-rock favorites kicked off their winter tour by headlining the Tower Theater – their biggest-ever hometown show, preceding a run through the largest U.S. venues they’ve played to date.

It was the sixth time I’ve seen them perform and, like every other time, just when I think they can’t get more exciting, they up the ante. Continue reading →

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Swans played to a reverent crowd at Union Transfer

Swans
Swans | photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com/

It began with the slight yet forceful reverberations of a gong. For five minutes, percussionist extraordinaire Thor Harris elicited the low hum of his instrument while no one else occupied the stage. Then drummer Phil Puelo came out to add another percussive layer. The lights dimmed and brightened to match the rhythm, almost like a pulsing heart. One by one more band members of Swans entered the fray. The song, “Frankie M,” like all of their work on performed Monday night at Union Transfer, lasted in excess of 20 minutes. To call it or any of the other pieces simply a song would be to dismiss their nature; they were mini-rock orchestrations, hinting at the essence of the music itself and the boundaries of the human ear’s comfort level with their powerful sonics.

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Free At Noon Flashback: Diamond Rugs had the World Cafe Live crowd jumping

Diamond Rugs | Photo by Rocco Peditto | roccopeditto.com
Diamond Rugs | Photo by Rocco Peditto | roccopeditto.com

Diamond Rugs played a short, energizing set for today’s Free at Noon concert. Last month the band released its second album, Cosmetics, following up their self-titled 2012 debut. The supergroup, which consists of members / former members of Deer Tick, The Black Lips, Dead Confederate and Six Finger Satellite, played a selection of songs off their new album, including “Thunk,” which opened the set, “Couldn’t Help It” and “Blame.” Unfortunately the band won’t be playing in Philly any time soon, since they just rocked Ortlieb’s last night. But if by any chance you happen to be in any of these cities at the dates the band’s playing in them, be sure to check them out. Listen back to the performance and check out photos below. Continue reading →

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No Country For Old Americana: Shakey Graves at Union Transfer

Shakey Graves | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Shakey Graves | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

Alejandro Rose-Garcia is a man of simple pleasures. He hoisted the can of Coors Light and toasted the crowd, throwing back a long sip. “I guess I should be drinking something a bit more locale-specific,” he chuckles. A few minutes earlier, he walked out onto the stage, wearing a black hoodie and looking like he just woke up from a nap, and set up his own guitars and kick drum. There’s lots of girls screaming, but he doesn’t acknowledge it—not yet, anyways—busying himself with cables on the stage. No muss, no fuss, no cowboy hat, and no stagehands. Shakey Graves was in the house. Wednesday night at Union Transfer, Graves proved he’s out to change the Americana game. Continue reading →

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Singer-Songwriter Bliss: Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer played World Cafe Live at the Queen

Allison Moorer and Mary Gauthier | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Allison Moorer and Mary Gauthier | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

The live pairing of the singular talents of Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer this past Saturday at World Café Live at The Queen was nothing short of sublime. Part of a small tour of the East Coast, Gauthier and Moorer traded songs and anecdotes. Only their voices and guitars separated them from the respectable upstairs audience. But their sense of lyric and melody removed this barrier, making it a most intimate and rewarding artistic affair. Continue reading →

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SXSW Dispatch: Reppin’ Philly with RECPhilly, What Scene, Freeway, Moosh and Twist, Ground Up, Chill Moody and more

Moosh and Twist  at the RECPhilly showcase | Photo by John Vettese
Moosh and Twist at the RECPhilly showcase | Photo by John Vettese

It was a rainy night in Austin on Friday, making it the perfect time to stay indoors, off of the 6th Street melee and hang with a stacked lineup of Philly hip-hop and R&B musicians. The party at Old School Bar – thrown by promoters What Scene? and record label / artist development upstart RECPhilly – mixed up-and-comers with established names, and kept the room packed with an enthusiastic crowd across the night. Continue reading →

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SXSW Dispatch: Public Radio Rocks showcase with Twin Shadow, Courtney Barnett, Gang of Four and more

Courtney Barnett | Photo by John Vettese
Courtney Barnett | Photo by John Vettese

We’ve parked ourselves at the Radio Day Stage at the Austin Convention Center, the site of the fourth annual Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase, curated in collaboration with WFUV in New York, KUTX in Austin, KXT in Dallas, The Current in Minneapolis and WXPN in Philly. On the bill for today are Twin Shadow, Ryan Bingham, Best Coast, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, Gang of Four and Courtney Barnett.

The show is streaming live until 7 p.m. EST, and you can listen to the performances here. Over the next several days, we’ll bring you video and full-set audio recaps of each artist’s set. For now, peruse the gallery below for an overview of the show; keep checking back, since we’ll be updating it as the day goes on. Continue reading →

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Five Years of Philly DIY: A musician’s perspective

Party Photographers at The Ox in 2010 | Photo by John Vettese
Party Photographers at The Ox in 2010 | Photo by John Vettese

In the wake of West Philly’s celebrated Golden Tea House closing its doors this winter, I’m torn between nostalgia and the hope that it’s not some trend of unconventional, all-ages venues throwing in the towel. In my heart of hearts I know that every time a DIY venue shuts down a demon gets it’s bat-wings or something, and there will be five more to take its place in a year or so. I hope so, anyway.

An intense show at the dearly departed Terrordome | photo via myspace.com/terrordomepa

This article will reminisce about the show houses that, in my opinion as a lowly musician, have dominated the Philly DIY “scene” the past four or five years. May this also be a rallying call to any person out there thinking about doing something similar: do it!

Get a PA, book a few bands to play in your kitchen or basement, make a rad flyer, invite everyone you know. You’ll be so happy you did, and if you just keep at it, this city will support you and you can eventually become as awesome (or more so) than the places in this article. GO! Continue reading →

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Gang of Four shows the TLA What Happens Next

Gang of Four | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Gang of Four | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Wednesday night at TLA, the singular punk oddities Gang of Four played the second night of their US tour in support of their eighth LP, What Happens Next. It is an aptly titled record as there is only one original member in the band, Andy Gill, after lead vocalist Jon King left the band in 2013. When mixed with songs from throughout their career that began in 1977, the new album’s material fit in place quite well. And the crowd that filled in nicely after a sparse beginning was quite rapturous in their applause for Gang of Four. Continue reading →
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Ariel Pink sparkled at Union Transfer

Ariel Pink
Ariel Pink | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

If the first things you noticed about Ariel Pink were his royal blue-spiked heels, you were about to get doused in glitter. The rest of Union Transfer probably saw his messy bun, bouncing as he walked, as they watched from a distance. “We are Ariel Pink, and this is White Freckles,” he said as a frantic guitar began. Immediately there was glitter. A mosh pit of fans psyched off his new release, pom pom, began jumping and tossing entire jugs of glitter over the crowd.

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