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Beach Bod return with “Little Norma”

Beach Bod | photo by Ashley Gellman | courtesy of the artist

Philly duo Beach Bod have been keeping fairly quiet since the release of their 2016 debut EP Carpal Summer, but now they’re back with a new single. Called “Little Norma,” it’s a whispery and ethereal track that pairs lyrics about loss with a steady, midtempo beat that gives it an upbeat sheen despite the resigned sadness within. Beach Bod is the project of local musicians Rachel Wild and Nathan Avila, who trade off on vocals on the new track and multitask on all the instrumentals, crafting a dual narrative that leaves the listener with two perspectives to decipher. Continue reading →

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The Wonder Years and its fall tourmates cover one another on a benefit EP

The Wonder Years | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Still riding high on the 2018 release of their sixth album Sister Cities, Philly punk outfit The Wonder Years are featured on a four-artist split EP with their current tourmates: Maryland rockers Have Mercy, Long Beach emo outfit Oso Oso and Detroit solo indie artist Shortly. On Tour Split, each band covers one another, including The Wonder Years’ cover of Shortly’s “Finders Keepers.” Continue reading →

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Representation Matters: Why the To The Front art show is a game-changer

The Regrettes | photo by Courtney Coles | courtneycoles.com

Riot grrrl is not dead. The spirit of the 90s feminist punk movement is thriving in a touring art show that comes through Philly this week.

Characterized by hardcore bands such as the iconic Bikini Kill, the Riot grrrl scene promoted empowerment women and addressed issues of rape, violence, sexuality and patriarchal oppression. Bikini Kill frontperson Kathleen Hanna fought to create a safer space for women in the punk scene. At shows, women were typically elbowed to the fringes of the crowd by aggressive moshers, but Hanna famously summoned women towards the stage as a form of protection, calling out, “All girls to the front!”

Flash forward twenty years. The music industry and art world have made strides of inclusivity, but the scene is undeniably still dominated by those bestowed with privilege, the majority composed of cis, straight white men. Devastating cases of sexual assault surface constantly, signalling an abuse of power and lack of safe spaces in the community. Additionally, artists of color, as well as female-identifying or non-binary artists are often pushed aside, their work going unrecognized.

To The Front is a traveling photo show that brings pushed-aside work into the limelight. The name is a nod to Bikini Kill and ultimately the riot grrrl movement, embodying the same message: give unrepresented artists a voice. The show was conceived by LA-based photographers Erica Lauren Perez and Courtney Coles. In 2016, Perez was injured with a dislocated knee and was prevented from touring. Doing a gallery show was something that had been on her mind while in recovery. She attended a show where Coles was showing work, which highlighted women of color in different mediums, and both were inspired by the theme and central message. The duo curated their own LA show in January 2017, which consisted of only four photographers, including Carly Hoskins and Danielle Parsons.

“We both were into the idea of having a music-photography based show with a few of our friends. We didn’t think it would be anything beyond the LA show, but the turnout and the feedback was really positive and it built naturally,” Perez commented in a recent interview with The Key. “We wanted to include people that have inspired us and it’s turned into this way bigger thing.” Continue reading →

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“A Drug-Cember To Remember”: The War on Drugs are wrapping 2018 with three pop-up Philly shows

The War on Drugs | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

To tie a bow on a tremendous year that included a Grammy win and festival appearances the world around — including a headlining slot at the XPoNential Music Festival — Philly psych rockers The War on Drugs just announced their plan for a hometown, year-end extravaganza at three undisclosed locations. Continue reading →

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Foxing brings drama, high energy, and beautiful catharsis to Union Transfer

Foxing | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

You’ve got to hand it to Foxing; the St. Louis experimental rock outfit knows how to set a mood.

Before they stepped on stage at Union Transfer, all the lights venue’s lights powered off, and into the shivering pitch blackness piped the ethereal tones of Enya’s “Only Time.” Not the song I was expecting to hear at this juncture, but as the pulsing green lights faded up and the band walked out on stage — each clad in matching Foxing sports tees with corresponding surnames on the back — it totally worked. It was a bit of serious drama, a bit of ironic irreverence, and as frontperson Conor Murphy strutted to the edge of the stage, arms flailing at the front row like a conductor wearing a huge grin, he was the living embodiment of this dichotomy. Continue reading →

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Traveling photo show To The Front DIY comes to Philly to celebrate female and non-binary artists

To The Front DIY
To The Front DIY photographers in New York | photo by Nancy Dubin | courtesy of To The Front DIY

Create an artistic space for yourself: this is the central idea behind To The Front, a traveling photo show that focuses on the work of female-identifying and non-binary artists. Launched by photographers Erica Lauren Perez and Courtney Coles in Los Angeles, the show has toured cities like Boston, New York and Toronto, and comes to Philly on October 27 at Callowhill gallery Vox Populi (UPDATE 10/1: To The Front Philly will now be held at Fishtown’s Open Space Studio; flyer for the event can be found down below). It is a free, all age event. All money raised through the selling of prints or snacks will be donated to local charities.  Continue reading →

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&More will perform at La Colombe’s next Hope and Fury event

&More | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

The Fishtown location of La Colombe Coffee continues its Hope and Fury concert-and-discussion series Hop and Fury tomorrow night with an appearance by &More, the Philly collaboration of R&B singer Donn T and rapper Chill Moody. The event also features a spoken word performance from André Wyze, of Humble Genius Media, and a discussion panel on de-stigmatizing mental health issues, featuring Chill Moody, Donn T, and Dr. Tim Barksdale. Continue reading →

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Revisit XPNFest 2018 with a 48-song VuHaus video playlist

Blind Boys of Alabama | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

The annual XPoNential Music Festival is the pinnacle of summer, drawing crowds of passionate music lovers and diehard festival goers. This year’s lineup was impressively diverse, including prominent, well-known artists, from Margo Price, Mondo Cozmo and Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real to newly emerging bands like Harmony Woods, Bermuda Triangle and The National Reserve. Continue reading →

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The Gaslight Anthem takes The ’59 Sound on a victory lap at The Fillmore

The Gaslight Anthem | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

I first heard “The ‘59 Sound” on an HP laptop computer, through Apple earbuds, streaming from New Jersey upstarts The Gaslight Anthem’s MySpace page in July 2008.

For any young fan, the impression that a piece of music leaves can feel like a hot iron imprinting itself into our skin. That is, if the stars are aligned, so to speak. Until this point, The Gaslight Anthem was rapidly building buzz among punk rock circles, on blogs and message boards and in bars and basements. With one full-length album and one EP behind them, the band signed with indie label SideOneDummy to release a follow-up to continually growing anticipation.

When The Gaslight Anthem released the title track to The ‘59 Sound that July, it felt like serendipity. Here is a young band absolutely bursting with potential that very well appears to be exceeding every expectation. (I vividly remember feeling very 17 years old and absolutely floored by the confidence, power, and conviction to a singular vision that “The ’59 Sound demonstrated.) One month later, The 59 Sound was released on August, 19, 2008, jettisoning The Gaslight Anthem to near-ubiquity among rock music fans of most kinds and cementing an impact in contemporary punk rock. Many regard it as a minor rock and roll masterpiece.

Which, of course, brings us to last Wednesday, August 15, 2018. A near 10 years since the release of The 59 Sound, at a sold-out FIllmore (a Philadelphia venue that did not exist in 2008), a stop on The Gaslight Anthem’s ‘59 Sound 10-year anniversary tour. Continue reading →