Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dark Blue at Johnny Brenda’s, Blondie at Tropicana, Leana Song at The Fire and more

Dark Blue | photo courtesy of the artist
Dark Blue | photo courtesy of the artist

Three Philly punk scene vets will take over Johnny Brenda’s tonight bringing a mix of 80s oi! and Britpop. Made up of John Sharkey III, Andrew Mackie Nelson and Mike Sneeringer, Dark Blue is a relatively new to Philly, but it has quickly been making a name for itself. Tickets and info on tonight’s show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar; listen to its single “Subterranean Man” below.

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Blondie and X bring their classic punk fire to The Keswick Theatre

X | Photo by Chris Sikich | All photos by Chris Sikich |

Punk rockers Blondie and X arrived at The Keswick this past Thursday as part of the “No Principals” tour, and despite a name evoking a youth revolt against authority, the rockers present are nearing the other end of the age spectrum at nearly 60 (X frontman John Doe) and 70 (Blondie’s Debbie Harry). No matter the age and the dunce cap prop (which looked closer to a witch’s hat, October appropriate for sure) that Doe and Harry wore at the beginning of their respective sets, they both rocked. The tour that has taken them to many other seated venues, like Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and while it’s a strange fit, Blondie succeeded in raising the nearly sold-out crowd to its feet for most of the show.

X’s opening set, using gigantic overhead screens filled with television color bars and other retro static images, was filled with their mostly 2-3 minute fast-paced songs. The original lineup of lead guitarist and singer John Doe, singer Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake blasted through a set drawn from their first four albums. Entering the stage to some of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western strings, they launched into the first track from their first album, Los Angeles, “Your Phone’s off the Hook, But You’re Not.” The crowd was mostly seated for the entire set, save when Debbie Harry joined them for “Breathless.” Nonetheless, X still has fire in their veins.

Standing became a requirement when Blondie entered to the tune of “One Way or Another.” Harry and fellow founding members guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke, along with three newer bandmates, took the crowd on a hit parade journey that had the crowd singing along and dancing. Using the video screens to put a visual exclamation point on songs like “The Tide Is High” with the ebb and flow of water for all to see, Blondie certainly knew how to showcase all angles of their craft. Harry owned the stage, walking back and forth to the edges of the crowd, absorbing the love of fans that has been going strong for 30-plus years. And they were not afraid to showcase new works, with the encore beginning with the brand-new “Mile High,” a catchy song, but certainly not as memorable as their show-closer “Dreaming.” Blondie already was assuring another tour in greater support of their older material, so fans should not fret that this New York band’s staying power for years to come.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Flaming Lips at Festival Pier, Blondie / X at Keswick Theater, Wesley Stace at World Cafe Live and more

Hailed for their dense psychedelic compositions and exuberant nature, experimental alt-rock legends The Flaming Lips play alongside Tame Impala tonight at Festival Pier. Although the Oklahoma native, five piece outfit toned down their never-leave-a-dull-moment-untouched attitude with April release The Terror, front man Wayne Coyne tells Rolling Stone that the album is “possibly the best Flaming Lips record ever made.” However bleak the release may be, it has not stifled the internationally acclaimed band’s over the top personality; which can be seen in their recent “Turning Violent” and Devo cover “Gates of Steel” videos seen below. Find details and tickets for tonight’s show at the XPN concert calendar.

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Blondie returning with a new album and a show at the Keswick in October

Blondie-600 Blondie are releasing a new album, and have announced its No Principals Tour playing the Keswick Theatre on Thursday, October 3rd with special guests X. They recently announced on their Facebook page, the name of their new album, Ghosts of Download, but no release date has been set yet. Tickets to the show go on sale this Friday, June 21 at Noon here. Below; if you really need to be reminded.


Dave Hause wants you to hold on to the things you love in “Fireflies”

Dave Hause | photo by Kyle London | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, Philly son Dave Hause kicks off a sold-out two-night stand at South Philly rock club Boot and Saddle, but if you missed out on tickets, your next chance to see him is right around the corner. Hause plays the 2019 edition of the XPoNential Music Festival in July, his fifth appearance at the fest, and by then, his fourth solo album Kick will be released on Rise Records — so fans will have ample time to absorb the lyrics for maximum shouting-back-at-Dave potential.

Ahead of the album’s April 12th release, Hause shared one final teaser single from Kick with us today. Where “The Ditch” was a driving punk anthem, and “Saboteurs” is a simmering midtempo burner, the new “Fireflies” finds Hause in introspective balladeer mode, thinking about his life and his hometown. He’s a person who’s been constantly uprooted — whether it be on tour with punk bands like Kid Dynamite (as a roadie) or The Loved Ones (as a front man), or criss-crossing the country and globe as a solo artist. Over the past five years, he moved to Los Angeles, sobered up, got married, welcomed twins into the world with his wife Natasha, and just last month celebrated his 41st birthday. Continue reading →


#XPN5050: 1978

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Dan Reed is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1978.

Bruce Springsteen, Blondie, and Big Star were just a few of the artists who made music in the year 1978. Theatrical singer-songwriter Kate Bush debuted with The Kick Inside featuring the classic “Wuthering Heights,” experimental punk band DEVO released Q. Are We Not Men? A. We Are Devo., Kraftwerk’s seventh album The Man-Machine made a huge impact, The Clash revved up fans with Give ‘Em Enough Rope, Patti Smith broke new ground with Easter, and so much more. Continue reading →


#XPN5050: 1999

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Eric Schuman is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1999.

It was a musically bizarre landscape during final year of the 1990s (and, depending on who you ask, the final year of the 20th century): the alternative zeitgeist had long since died away, pop music was developing a new sheen for the new millennium, nümetal was in its unfortunate ascendence.

But there were stone cold classics released that year as well: The Magnetic Fields’ magnum opus 69 Love Songs captured the imagination of the indie rock underground, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart launched them from the Philadelphia map to the global map, R&B trio TLC crafted another chart-topper to perfection with “No Scrubs” from Fanmail, and Moby’s Play was not only a critical hit, but it redefined commercial success when it managed to license every single one of its 18 tracks to various commercials.

Veteran artists like Blondie, Blur, and Luscious Jackson tried to re-invent themselves with new releases in 1999; the year also saw the quiet debut of bands who would go on to huge acclaim, like The White Stripes and My Morning Jacket.  Continue reading →


That Was Then, This Is Now: An oral history of Philly hardcore cult favorites Flag Of Democracy

Flag of Democracy | photo by Yoni Kroll | courtesy of the artist

Picture this: it’s 1982 and punk and hardcore are beginning to take hold in Philadelphia. Three obsessed and eager teenagers decide to form a band. As luck would have it, their friends are booking the show of the year — Washington D.C.’s Minor Threat, considered at the time one of the finest bands around and today to be absolutely legendary — and these suburban teens are asked if they’d open. The band goes up on stage and rips through a fantastically wild set despite it being their first show ever. Everybody is blown away.

In the movie version of this story that would be it. Maybe they learned a valuable lesson. Maybe they didn’t. The final scene is one of those epic montages showing everybody growing up and the reunion three decades on where you might think they’re all normal adults who aren’t angry at the world because they’ve figured it all out but surprise surprise they show up in leather jackets ready to play their second show ever! Roll final credits and …

But wait: this all actually happened and that band, they’re still playing breakneck pissed off hardcore punk. In fact, they never stopped. That’s the world of Flag of Democracy, one of the finest acts to ever come out of Philadelphia and to this day a cult favorite around the world. Continue reading →