Karen O & Danger Mouse share “Turn The Light” from collaborative album Lux Prima

Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O has teamed up with producer Danger Mouse for a new collaborative album, Lux Prima, that comes out this Friday. We’ve heard two singles over the last couple months, “Woman” and the album’s title track,” and ahead of the release they’ve shared a third one, the 90s R&B-inspired “Turn The Light.” Continue reading →


Miles Away: Explore a dream gig of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Ted Leo at the First Unitarian Church in 2001

Yeah Yeah Yeahs | still from video

The maddening thing about music from the post-internet, pre-social media aughties: it is woefully under-documented in the digital ephemera of today.

This is after guerrilla videographers stopped hauling bulky camcorders to shows and before digital cameras were capable of filming anything that wasn’t a pixelated mess. This is when concerts were photographed mostly on film, and the photographers maybe didn’t have enough time to get five HQ scans of their images, much less fifty. This is the era of tours still being plotted and shows still being logged on paper, and maybe those notes have not yet been transferred with any sense of definitiveness to (if they exist at all anymore). This was before Friendster even existed, much less MySpace, much less Facebook.

That’s why we have to say things like “what appears to be Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ first Philadelphia concert,” since we’re not 100% certain they didn’t play at least once before this gig on December 16th, 2001. Continue reading →


Yeah Yeah Yeahs return in triumphant form to bring the rock to the 215 Block Party

Yeah Yeah Yeahs | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

This past weekend, Chicago brewery Goose Island hosted their traveling Block Party at the Electric Factory. The event included reasonably priced food trucks, $3 Goose Island beers (from the 4.5% ABV variety all the way to their fancier fare upwards to 13% ABV) and oh yeah, music! The lineup was a mix of Philly, Chicago, and the return of New York’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

The weather in Philly up until this weekend had been like walking around in a warm bath. While it is nice that the humid icky weather finally broke on Friday, having the 215 Block Party outside on an overcast drizzly evening put a slight damper on what was intended to be an end of summer party.   Continue reading →


Just Announced: Yeah Yeah Yeahs will play their first Philly show since 2013 at Goose Island’s 215 Block Party

Yeah Yeah Yeahs | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Last year, NYC-rooted rock trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs emerged from their extended hiatus to celebrate their 15th anniversary as a band with a reissue of their debut Fever to Tell and a documentary to go along with it. Now they’re set to play their first Philadelphia show since 2013 when they headline Goose Island’s 215 Block Party at the Electric Factory on Saturday, September 8th.  Continue reading →


#NowPlaying at The Key: Femina-X, Post Animal, Haley Heynderickx and more

Femina-X | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Post Animal | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist // Haley Heyderickx | photo by Alessandra Leimer | courtesy of the artist

Talking points for anxious high schoolers, a subversive anti-war dance classic, anthropomorphized creatures in folk dreamscapes, and a merengue answer to Karen O’s signature howl. Here are seven songs that have been in our headphones this week. Continue reading →


Rock out to Wallace’s debut studio recording, “Sunny Monday”

Wallace | photo courtesy of the artist

Earlier this winter, in the midst of a show at Ortlieb’s, I found myself describing Philly rocker Wallace to a friend via text message as “kind of like Sheer Mag without the radical politics and if Tina and Kyle were one person.”

What did I mean by that? Well, firstly, the band — really the artist, a nom de stage of Wallace Gerdy, lead guitarist of Philly’s Mattress Food — is also a rock band in the most classic sense: tasty 70s / 80s riffs, speedy rhythms, wry delivery and hooks hooks hooks. Second, it’s not to say that Gerdy does not care about society and the world around her, but society is not necessarily what her songs are about; they take a very personal outlook, there’s no revolutionary call-to-arms like Sheer Mag’s “Meet Me In The Street,” and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that. Last: in Sheer Mag, Tina Halladay fills the role of charismatic frontperson with the gripping, gravelly voice while Kyle Seely is the lead shredder, establishing the band’s guitar identity; Gerdy, however, does both, often simultaneously. Continue reading →


The Week Ahead: The Posies, Strand of Oaks, King Britt, Inara George and more

XPoNential Music Festival | photo by Joe Del Tufo |

Let’s send out January in a big way, friends. The weather is unseasonably warm and we’ve got 24 concerts over the next week for you to choose between, centered in Philadelphia with a couple day trips to locales like Bethlehem and Ardmore. Dig in below, and happy concertgoing. Continue reading →


Items Tagged Philadelphia: Songs of suburbia and disconnected cell phones

Sarah M. | via

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. Periodically, we’ll check in to present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

Confession time: I’ve not yet been to a concert in 2018. I, who spend a major portion of my time each day finding shows to tell you about, and to urge you to go to them, have not actually been to one yet this year. And I think I’m at peace with that.

Part of my absence has been due to to the fact that I spent the end of last year and the beginning of this year contending with a hellish, unshakeable cold that was transmitted to me and several other WXPN-ers by a coworker who shall remain nameless — about which all I have to say is yo, people in the working world, freaking take sick days when you’re sick. On the plus side, I’ve been reading a lot of books (enjoyable) and watching cheesy action movies (sometimes awful, sometimes fun) and getting some QT in with my three cats (always fun). And I’ve been listening to a lot of music.

From the latter, I’m happy to bring you the first installment of Items Tagged Philadelphia for 2018 — nine short, sweet new releases ranging from trip-hop infused trap (or is it the other way around?) to suburban emo treatises to a release that might just be an Either/Or for Philadelphia circa 2018. And lest I come off as any more of a bloody hypocrite here, let me just say I am super excited for my first concert of the year to be Cayetana’s sold-out benefit for the Attic Youth Center this Wednesday at Boot & Saddle. Hope to see some of you there.

Continue reading →


Inside Urban Styles, a new book exploring the intersections of graffiti and hardcore

Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore by Freddy Alva is available now | via Amazon

Arguments about legality and aesthetics aside, the term DIY is never more applicable than when you’re talking about graffiti. How much more Do It Yourself is there than putting your art, whatever it might be, directly on a wall for everyone to see? There’s good reason graffiti has been around for all of recorded history: it’s completely accessible but also quite subversive and potentially dangerous. It’s also just so totally badass to write graffiti. You might be doing something illegal but you’re doing something illegal in the name of art. How cool is that?!

There’s a lot of parallels to be made between graffiti and punk. Both rose to a certain amount of cultural prominence in the 70s and 80s. Both owe a lot to people of color who trailblazed the path in places like New York City and Southern California. Both have occupied that funny place in society where they’re both accepted as a sort of protest but also serve as an example of everything that is morally wrong, oftentimes in the same sentence.

So while graffiti is most-often associated with hip-hop, it’s no wonder that there was crossover between the two, a shared movement starting in the early 80s and really coming to a head in the New York hardcore scene of the late 80s and early 90s. Freddy Alva’s new book, Urban Styles: Graffiti in New York Hardcore, is an incredibly in-depth history of that period, documenting the bands, the graffiti crews, and the style and fashion of this cultural phenomenon. Continue reading →