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PHOTOS: Hardwork Movement, Aphra, ILL Doots and Maitland threw down at NPR’s Tiny Desk Philly concert

Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | <a href="http://racheldelsordophotography.com" target="_blank">racheldelsordophotography.com</a>
Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

To kick off the month of May, the folks at NPR Music brought their #TinyDeskContest tour to Philadelphia for a terrific night of music for a sold out crowd at World Cafe Live upstairs featuring some of our favorite artists from the city: high-energy hip-hop bands Hardwork Movement and ILL DOOTS, ethereal electronic singer and songwriter Aphra and expressive rockers Maitland. Check out scenes from the night below, care of our photographer Rachel Del Sordo.
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Pine Barons at Boot & Saddle, Ill Doots at Voltage Lounge

Pine Barons
Pine Barons | photo by Caitlin McCann

With a new record on the way, Pine Barons lead the bill at Boot & Saddle tonight. The concert is a benefit for March On Harrisburg, a week-long protest that will take walkers from Philadelphia to the state capital in support of a better democracy. The indie rockers shared a new single called “Alliterate Breed” last fall; watch the video below and pick up tickets for the 21+ benefit here.

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 19 (featuring Creepoid, ILL DOOTS, PINKWASH, Shannen Moser and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 19 | cover photo by Cameron Pollack

On the first 2017 collection of standout performances from The Key Studio Sessions, Philly artists stretch out.

Three Man Cannon explores measured avenues and alleys of indie rock groove for six minutes on “Pushing People.” Mars Parker runs a five minute sprint to the trancey hip-hop / R&B tones of “Little Red Corvette.” Long-running Philly / Brooklyn experimental pop outfit Cuddle Magic delivers a vibrant epic in “The First Hippie on the Moon, Parts 1 & 2.” And far-reaching instrumentals are rocked by raw power metal trio Stinking Lizaveta and forward-thing jazz ensemble Vince Tampio Quintet.

That’s not to say The Key Studio Sessions Volume 19, available for streaming and free downloading today, consists solely of slow burners. You’ll hear spirited retro rock by Louie Louie, hooky punk from Eight and swift electropop care of Camp Candle. Long running Philly faves Creepoid check in with a searing new heavy psych jam, PINKWASH rages for three minutes of cathartic thrash and Shannen Moser closes the set with a elegant and direct folk song.

And, as usual, that’s just scratching the surface. Continue reading →

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ILL DOOTS, Hardwork Movement and more will play NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Philly 2017 concert

ILL DOOTS | via illdoots.com

After a lively third year of over 6000 entries and a knockout winning video from New Orleans outfit Tank & The Bangas, NPR Music is once again taking its Tiny Desk Contest on the road, and it swings through Philadelphia on May 2 at World Cafe Live.

The all-Philly lineup will feature two hip-hop bands near and dear to The Key’s hearts. ILL DOOTS, a South Philly collective that just recorded a Key Studio Session last month, will perform after delivering an impressive Tiny Desk submission featuring their stirring and socially conscious anthem “Black Matter.” Hardwork Movement, a band we’ve loved since hearing their first single “Shine” a year and a half ago, is also on the bill on the strength of their breathtaking new “Becca’s Jam,” making its debut in their Tiny Desk submission. Two more artists will be announced closer to the event; stay tuned for more on that. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Ill Doots

Philly collective ILL DOOTS has got to be one of the most creative forces at work on the local hip-hop scene right now.

Picture, if you will, a meeting ground between Hardwork Movement’s expansive big band arrangements (ten multi-instrumental members!) and non-stop hustle (ILL DOOTS’ Fourth Fridays at their Tasker House home base are always poppin’) with the ambitious, interdisciplinary performing arts outlook of musicians like Kate Faust (the band notably soundtracked a production of An Octoroon at the Wilma Theater last year) and you’re well on your way there. It’s no coincidence, in that sense, that ILL DOOTS were featured alongside both those artists on the sold-out opening lineup of Key Fest 2016, and we’re psyched to bring their vibes in the studio today.
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Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Screaming Females at First Unitarian Church, Ill Doots at The Painted Bride, The End of America at Boot and Saddle

Screaming Females | courtesy of the artist
Screaming Females | courtesy of the artist

If you pay a visit to the About section of Screaming Females’ Facebook page, you’ll only find two and a half words: “Rock n Roll”. Similarly, the Genre section just has the word “Rock” listed three times, but what more do you need to know? The New Brunswick power trio will headline the Don Giovanni Records Showcase tonight with Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires, Outer Spaces, Worriers, and Bad Moves, and you can find tickets and more info at XPN’s Concert Calendar. While you’re at it, check out a performance of a song they definitely (won’t) play at the show below. Continue reading →

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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: ILL Doots

ILL Doots | Photo by Charlie Arnold | courtesy of the artist

This summer, for ILL Doots, has been all about preparation—like a volcano building magma before it explodes. “On the surface, it may seem like we’ve been kind of quiet,” explains Anthony Martinez-Briggs (stage name: Phantom) over drinks at Boot & Saddle. “But there’s so much going on behind the scenes.”

By “kind of quiet” of course he means “kind of quiet for ILL Doots,” who have spent the past 6 years playing, dropping tracks, and hosting workshops in Philly and beyond—with nary a sign of slowing down. Their “quiet” period included a handful of live performances, curating shows at their South Philly home, affectionately known as “Tasker House,” and writing and performing the soundtrack to the Wilma Theater’s production of An Octoroonin addition to recording and preparing for tour. Octoroon’s soundtrack drops later this week, and this Saturday they’ll kick off a 3-week, U.S. tour with a show at Boot & Saddle; while on the road, they’ll also host a series of free workshops teaching music to kids.

If it sounds ambitious, that’s because it is. But the dudes of ILL Doots—”ILL” being an acronym for “I Love Learning”—have never been ones to shy away from a challenge. Since coming together in the U Arts dormitories back in 2009, the Philadelphia eight-piece has consistently challenged expectations of what it means to be a hip-hop band today, marrying cool raps and fresh production with a focus on collaboration, community betterment, and positivity. Originally conceived as a jam sesh between roommates Jordan “Rodney” McCree (drums) and Scott “Sly Tompson” Ziegler (bass), the band added emcees Martinez-Briggs and Kirschen “Tex” Wolford soon after, then slowly grew to the monolith it is today.

These days, ILL Doots is a growing force on the local scene, whose stock continues to rise. Before heading out on tour, I caught up with 4/8th of the band—McCree, Ziegler, Martinez-Briggs, and guitarist Sam “BPAD” Borrello—to talk weekends in the Wissahickon, classic summer jamz, and what they’re most psyched about this fall. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Courtney Barnett at the Electric Factory, Ill Doots at Johnny Brenda’s, Four Tet at 714

Courtney Barnett | Photo By Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com
Courtney Barnett | Photo By Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

Singer-songwriter-rock-and-roller Courtney Barnett is on a victory lap in support of last year’s acclaimed record Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit; tonight, she plays her biggest Philadelphia gig to date, headlining the Electric Factory. With jams like “Pedestrian at Best” and “Dead Fox” and aching numbers like “Deprestion,” it will make you feel all the proverbial feelings. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch Courtney playing XPNFest last summer below. Continue reading →

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Key Fest At-A-Glance, Part One: A powerful pop and hip-hop opening night with ILL Doots, Kate Faust, Hardwork Movement and Joie Kathos

Ill Doots
Ill Doots | Photo courtesy of the artist

Are you ready to party? We’re ready to party. The opening night of our second-ever KEY FEST is upon us and we’re elated to once again program a weekend of gigs celebrating the spectrum of incredible music and artistry that thrives in Philadelphia and its surrounding region.

As we did last year, we’re bringing you daily lineup rundowns to get you primed for the show, and I can’t imagine a more energetic roster of artists to kick this party into high gear. Dig in below. Continue reading →

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A conversation with ILL DOOTS, Philly’s most idealistic hip-hop collective

Ill Doots
Ill Doots | Photo courtesy of the artist

Philly hip-hop collective ILL DOOTS wants to start a movement. An ILL movement.

The ILL is an acronym, and according to Anthony “Phantom” Martinez-Briggs – one of the group’s emcees – it has three different meanings: “I love living,” “I love learning,” and “I love lessons.”

“We feel as though we can’t help but be creating this often, really having interactions with people that honor what their natural impulses are in life,” Phantom explains. “And it doesn’t just have to be art. We don’t want to alienate a member of our audience who writes, plays basketball, or who wants to be a great mother. If that’s what makes you feel alive, if that’s what gives your life worth, that’s what our music is all about.”

ILL DOOTS first began in a stuffy dorm room at the University of the Arts with Jordan “Rodney” McCree and Scott “Sly Tompson” Ziegler jamming together and playing lots of J Dilla. Over time, the group slowly added more members – Sly Tompson discovered Phantom at a UArts open mic, Phantom brought along Kirschen “Tex” Wolford, and so the chain continued until the band reached its current tally of nine members. Continue reading →