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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Aster More at The Barbary, Commonwealth Choir at The Fire, HR at MilkBoy and more

Aster More | via their Facebook page
Aster More | via their Facebook page

After debuting at this summer’s First Time’s The Charm festival, Philly six-piece Aster More released a self-titled EP of amped up tunes indebted as much to shoegaze as post-hardcore. Tonight, the band plays The Barbary; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Aster More bring punk hooks and shoegaze instrumentation on self-titled debut

Aster More | via their Facebook page
Aster More | via their Facebook page

Philadelphia’s Aster More may have just hit the scene a few months ago, but they’ve already shared their debut, self-titled EP, and it’s a promising start for the sextet. If you like your guitars blaring, your vocals passionate, and your lyrics confessional, then stop whatever you’re currently doing–this is more important. Find somewhere private, put on your headphones, and slam dance your troubles away. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Katie Frank and the Pheromones at MilkBoy, The Wood Brothers at Prince Music Theater, Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival and more

Photo by Will Hoover | Courtesy of facebook.com/katiefrankmusic
Photo by Will Hoover | Courtesy of facebook.com/katiefrankmusic

Foot-stomping folk rock band Katie Frank and the Pheromones will fill MilkBoy with their Americana roots sound tonight. This is the band’s record release party for Counting Your Curses, their debut full-length from Elizabethtown, Pa. native Frank. The band broke through with their country-influenced, twangy sound and shared their tunes with us in a Studio Session. Fit to their sound and style, their newest record was recorded in a homey, carriage-like recording studio outside of Philadelphia with Kawari Sound, according to an interview they did about the new album with The Vinyl District. Joining them will be indie-pop folk favorites The Lawsuits and folk/Americana artist Kevin KillenThis 21+ show will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 at the door and can be purchased here.

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James Cotton, Loudon Wainwright III, Carsie Blanton and more playing the Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival on 2/21 and 2/22

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
James Cotton | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker

The annual Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival will take place on February 21st and 22nd of next year, with over 50 musicians set to perform during the multi-venue event.  Currently billed artists range from folk to bluegrass to funk and include Loudon Wainwright III, Edgar Winter, and James Cotton, who recently closed out XPN’s Mississippi Blues Project.  The local contingent includes Carsie Blanton, Dana Alexander and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers.  Tickets and information can be found here.  Check out videos of some performers below.

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl: First Friday, Middle Eastern cinema, Chinese puppets, and much more!

img_1389 It’s Philadelphia’s First Friday in Old City and elsewhere. 3rd Street Gallery has two new exhibitions: Interact by Heather Riley, exploring consumption and the role of objects in our lives, and a solo show by Kristine Flannery, abstract interpretations of cityscapes, flora, and the human figure. A097_C008_1204IZ

New Middle Eastern Cinema is presented by the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Jewish Film Festival at International House,  Aziz Ayse and Facing Mirrors are screening on Friday and Horses of God and Rags and Tatters (pictured above) on Sautrday.Theatre Horizon

I Am My Own Wife is a Pulitzer Prize winning play based on the true story of a German man who survived both the Nazi and Communist regimes in the guise of a woman. The play, which runs through November 24, is a one man show presented by Norristown’s Theatre Horizon, and stars Charlie DelMarcelle in over 30 roles.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.13.54 AMDream Journeys, a solo exhibition by Beijing born master puppeteer Hua Hua Zhang, defies the traditional boundaries of the gallery by using puppetry as a form of sculpture, installation and performance. Zhang’s work is deeply rooted in her upbringing during China’s cultural revolution, and deals largely with self expression in a climate of creative restriction. Hosted at the Asian Arts Initiative, the exhibition runs through January 24, and features an opening reception and performance Friday and a performance on Saturday..

And there’s always more going on…
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Big Thief at Electric Factory, Sheila E. in Cedar Park, Superfive at World Cafe Live, plus more

Big Thief | Photo: Shervin Lainez
Big Thief | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

It’s been a minute since Big Thief have been to Philly. The Brooklyn folk-rockers-who-can-totally-shred have since followed up their 2016 debut album Masterpiece with the comparatively downbeat and emotional Capacity, and now they’re bringing all your favorite tunes to the Electric Factory as part of the Project Pabst festival. Though it’s definitely worth heading over to the festival just to see Big Thief, other standout performers on the lineup include Speedy Ortiz, Thin Lips, and The Menzingers. More information can be found on Project Pabst’s website. Watch Big Thief perform “Paul” for The Key below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at Union Transfer, Ms. Lauryn Hill at BB&T, Bastille at The Fillmore, plus more

Ted Leo | photo courtesy of the artist

Ted Leo is back and bringing his trusty crew, the Pharmacists, with him to Union Transfer tonight. This past week, Leo smashed his seven year hiatus with the new record, The Hanging Tree, which was funded through the generosity of his fans via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Watch his latest video for “Can’t Go Back,” below, then find info on tonight’s show here. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: The Morelings return with dreamlike new single “We Were”

The Morelings | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Psychedelic dream-pop duo The Morelings seem like such an integral part of the Philly circuit that it’s hard to believe it’s been about three years since they first appeared on the scene. They first emerged in late 2014, recording and releasing debut EP No Sign shortly after. Since then the ethereal shoegaze-y project, founded by co-writers and performers Kedra Caroline and Matthew William and now performing live as a five-piece band, has gone on to build their music around a solid and captivating dreamy aesthetic, lodging themselves firmly into the hearts of their fans. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs by Torres, Alvvays, Lucky Soul, EMA, Partner, Dent May and more

Alvvays | Photo by Shervin Lainez, courtesy of the artist

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

It’s prime time. As summer winds to a close, we’ve arrived emphatically at the part of the year where seemingly every week brings a fresh trove of high-profile new releases. The last few weeks have seen records from what feels like a who’s-who of top-tier “prestige” indie rock acts: The National, Grizzly Bear, Iron and Wine, LCD Soundsystem and, of course, Philly’s entry in the conversation, The War on Drugs. And there’s more right around the corner from Beck, St. Vincent, Destroyer, Wolf Parade and, of course, Philly’s entry in the next phase of the conversation, Kurt Vile (in collaboration with Courtney Barnett.) As always, it’ll be interesting to see which of these albums manage to live up to the anticipation, and how many wind up largely forgotten in a few months time.

But it’s a great time of year for all sorts of music; not just the big names and known entities. There’s so much stuff coming out it’s hard to even keep track of it all, and the influx of well-established acts means higher-than-usual potential for worthy smaller records to slip through the cracks. But I’ll do my best to help – read on for a smattering of relatively under-the-radar releases from the past month or so. No deliberate themes or through-lines this time, but there are a few trends that stick out. Notably, we are now sufficiently far enough removed from last November’s election – and the many varieties of devastating fallout that ensued – that an increasing number of new releases are referencing or responding to the national (and global) political situation at least on some level – and there are several examples below. Also, for no particular reason except that it just happened that way, all of these songs were made by women – well, with one or two exceptions right at the end, but at least those are sung in falsetto. Enjoy! Continue reading →

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Yalla Habibi! Philadelphia’s first ever Middle Eastern punk festival, YallaPunk, starts tonight

Puzzlehead
Vancouver’s Puzzlehead plays The Barbary during YallaPunk | photo courtesy of the artist

“YallaPunk is a direct response to negative depictions of populations of Middle Eastern and North African descent in mainstream media. This event is meant to highlight creative accomplishments of MENA individuals and serve as a safe space forum for discourse about social issues. The idea is to celebrate music, art, film and other cultural artifacts created by this particular population in an intersectional and inclusive space free from sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, and bigotry.” – From YallaPunk.com

Even though this is the inaugural YallaPunk, the Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) punk festival happening this weekend at various venues including Johnny Brenda’s and The Barbary, its roots stretch back more than 16 years to Blacksburg, Virginia. Festival organizer Rana Fayez grew up there, a young Arab-American immigrant trying to adjust to a new country. She had been in the United States for just a year when September 11th happened and everything changed.

After a particularly bad altercation with some older classmates who accused her of being complicit with the attacks, “… I thought ever since that people think I’m violent now, people think I’m not a good person. I felt very separated from my peers. I felt very isolated.” She soon found a home in her local punk scene. As she explained, “[Punk] gave me the guts to say: ‘I am who I want to be, not who you tell me to be.’”

Punk wasn’t just loud, angry music and a feeling of rebellion, though that was all very important. According to Fayez, “It was liberating. It was free. Punk rock shows were a sanctuary for me because I could exist [there] and a lot of my friends really accepted me.” Continue reading →