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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Downtown Boys at Everybody Hits, Laura Stevenson at Boot and Saddle, Strange Parts at Bourbon and Branch and more

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

Providence revolutionary rockers Downtown Boys have been making a lot of noise on the underground level the past few years, and with a new deal on Sub Pop Records, this punk five-piece is poised to fight the good fight at a much bigger level. The band just released its latest single, “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)” — which it told NPR was “a declaration of one’s ability to decolonize one’s mind, and the importance of fearlessly unlearning the ways white supremacy conditions people to think and exist.” Listen below, wait with baited breath (like us) to get word on Downtown Boys’ upcoming Sub Pop LP (no details are available yet), and check the XPN Concert Calendar for tickets and information on the band’s headlining show tonight at Everybody Hits.
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Downtown Boys sound fiercer than ever on “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)”

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

Last month, Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys signed to Sub Pop Records with promise of major label debut later this year. It was also promised that Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto would oversee the sessions for that album, but if that sounded too good to be true, the proof is finally here. Their new single “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas),” which translates to “We’re Elegant/Intelligent (We’re not Dumb),” is available for streaming below. Continue reading →

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Downtown Boys sign to Sub Pop, announce show at Everybody Hits

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

Providence, RI outfit Downtown Boys have become familiar faces in the Philadelphia DIY scene lately, building a grassroots movement around their multi-faceted punk music (think grit, political resistance, and horns) for the last half decade that led to the 2015 release of Full Communism on Don Giovanni Records. Well, the quintet is continuing to move up with this week’s announcement that revered Seattle label Sub Pop has signed them on for a new LP, with Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto joining Communism‘s Greg Norman in the engineering seat.

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Finding Philly in Austin: Catching up with nine local artists at SXSW

The Districts | Photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

South by Southwest: the festival to end all festivals. That time of the year when the entire world takes over the city of Austin for a week of networking, tacos, and lanyard tans. But somewhere amidst the corporate clutter, in between the long lines outside sponsored showcases and under the litter of promotional flyers strewn across the main drag of Austin’s 6th street by week’s end, is that which makes SXSW so strange and wonderful: the thousands of independent artists who chose to play more sets in just a few days than certain artists play in a year, compensated by the choice between $250 and a wristband, and the vague promise of discovery.

This year, I decided that I, myself, would participate in the SXSW hustle, running around the streets of Austin to the sound of a hundred bands at once, camera and notebook in hand (which is nothing, really, compared to the gear most musicians were toting) to catch up with nine of Philadelphia’s own artists showcasing at this year’s festival. Below, read excerpts from our conversations, and see photos from their live sets. Continue reading →

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Because we need Paint It Black more than ever, they’re playing the First Unitarian Church

Paint it Black at 8Seconds | Photo by John Vettese
Paint it Black at FEST 2014 | Photo by John Vettese

Last Wednesday afternoon, I sat at my desk feeling numb, despondent and uncertain about the future in the wake of the presidential election. I was certainly not alone in this, and in the midst of a steady stream of outrage and disappointment on my Twitter feed, one Tweet from Philadelphia hardcore heroes Paint It Black stood out. Continue reading →

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They Came. They Saw. They Conquered: The Orwells at Underground Arts

The Orwells | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN
The Orwells | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

BuzzFeed can suck it. Punk rock is alive and well in the Millenial generation, and if you need proof look no further than The Orwells. The group of early-twenty-somethings who hail from the rural outskirts of Chicago grew up with a punk rock education that’s become increasingly prevalent among today’s college-aged kids. The group’s new album set to come out this February, Terrible Human Beings, will likely be the latest addition to a flurry of great garage-punk albums to come out in recent years.

It’s a list of bands that’s becoming ever more impressive, featuring acts like FIDLAR, Twin Peaks, Speedy Ortiz, Bully, Tacocat, Downtown Boys, The Summer Cannibals, and Philly’s own Sheer Mag. But without a doubt, chief among them is The Orwells. The Orwells have a more melodic take on punk than most other punk bands; it’s a sound not unlike that of The Replacements or The Clash. The band’s two albums to date are brilliant, but the band’s live show is what makes them stand out.

That show was on full display Friday night at Underground Arts. The Orwells kicked things off with the latest single from the new album called “They Put a Body in the Bayou,” sending the overwhelmingly under-25 crowd into a moshing frenzy. Continue reading →

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Reclaiming Alternative: Why Don Giovanni’s festival is what the music world needs right now

Pinkwash
Pinkwash | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joe Steinhardt doesn’t mince words. The way he sees it, music festivals are destroying music.

“What I’ll dub the festival industrial complex is the antithesis of what music culture – of what culture – really is,” says the co-founder of the New Brunswick, NJ based punk label Don Giovanni Records.

“It’s basically a bunch of corporate sponsors and corporate bands being shuffled around through a couple booking agencies,” he says. “And that’s why you’ll see, every city, every festival has the same lineup. It’s sort of feels like what happened with radio. Clear Channel bought up all the stations and radio feels the same everywhere. ‘Look at all these local festivals!’ But it’s the same goddam bands playing every one, right?”

Steinhardt thinks there can and should be another way. This weekend, the New Alternative Music Festival kicks off at Convention Hall in Asbury Park, New Jersey. A stacked lineup of DIY favorites will play the venue over the course of two days, with after-parties at Asbury Park Yacht Club and Angosta Lounge.

Appearing are indie scene heavy-hitters: Friday night’s bill is led by Screaming Females, Ought and a reunion of P.S. Eliot (the original project of sisters Katie and Allison Crutchfield of Waxahatchee and Swearin’); on Saturday, Downtown Boys, Girlpool and Laura Stevenson cap off the event. Numerous Philly-regional acts are in the mix as well: Pinkwash, Trophy Wife, Moor Mother, Radiator Hospital.

Most notably: there are no corporate sponsorships. No stages “powered by” such-and-such energy drink. No car company logos on Snapchat filters and merch booths. Steinhardt’s goal was to create a true alternative to the corporate megafestival that has, over the past decade, come to dominate how fans experience live music — and how musicians make their living. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Ultimate Guide to Summer Music Festivals 2016 – Part Two

made in america
Made in America crowd | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

A few months ago, we gave you The Key’s Guide to Summer Music Festivals Part One, and we promised to follow up later in the summer with Part Two. Well, that time is now! We’ve compiled everything you need to know about all the music festivals for the second half of summer, including dates, locations and who’s playing what — with a focus on Philadelphia artists on the various lineups — all presented in chronological order. Don’t worry, you can thank us later. On with the festivals! Continue reading →

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Hop Along will play Project Pabst Philly with Animal Collective, Mac DeMarco and more

Hop Along | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Hop Along | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

After blowing our minds at the Make The World Better Foundation benefit gig this spring, Hop Along returns to the stage in their hometown this fall for the Philly edition of the Project Pabst concert series.

The show takes place at the Electric Factory on October 8th, and will also feature aughties freak-psychedelic dudes Animal Collective and indie crooner Mac DeMarco. Continue reading →