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The Skeleton Key: Multitudes of new music for July, a First Time’s The Charm recap, and gigs from black metal to beatmakers to punk wrestlers

First Time’s The Charm | photo by Yoni Kroll for WXPN

This is a special Skeleton Key and not just because I’m checking in with you a bit later than usual. Don’t worry, my neighbors are still shooting off fireworks all day every day so it’s basically still the 4th and will probably stay that way at least until August. For this column I want to talk about all the new music coming out this month because there’s seriously just so much of it. And check this out: last weekend was First Time’s the Charm which was the debut of eight bands playing their very first sets ever. So much new music! Let’s start with a list because you should always start with a list: Dark Thoughts, Smarthearts, Rosali, Lester, Dark Web, Rabbits to Riches, Empath, and Fleabite. Oh, and a just-announced split between Jenna & The Pups – the solo pop punk band from HIRS frontwoman Jenna Pup – and, well, herself. The PUP/HIRS album will be out in August. Continue reading →

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First Time’s the Charm festival returns to build a more inclusive scene in summer of 2018

First Time’s The Charm 2016 vets Aster More play the First Unitarian Church | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Everyone’s always been told that “the third time’s the charm,” but thanks to an effort in the local DIY scene, there’s a reason to redefine that old adage. First Time’s the Charm aims to showcase diverse voices by placing a spotlight on new and underrepresented musicians. The event started in 2013 and will return this July for its third installment. Continue reading →

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Support a more inclusive scene with No Gatekeepers, the 2016 First Time’s the Charm compilation

Whipworm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Whipworm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

As superb and awesome as Philly’s music scene is, one aspect that remains not-so-hot is the lack of diversity. With so many prominently acts made up of white, straight men, it can be difficult for women, artists of color, and members of the LBGTQ community to feel included and respected. So how to combat this aura of exclusivity, might you inquire? Inclusiveness and active representation for days, that’s how. Enter: First Times the Charm. This event of greatness, founded in 2013 and reprised in 2016, is a two-night festival at PhilaMOCA that celebrates and jams out to new bands with underrepresented members — all of whom are playing their first show.

We’re big fans of First Time’s The Charm — having discovered locals like Marge and Littler from the first edition of the festival — so last year, The Key teamed up with both the organization as well as our compatriots at Folkadelphia to record 15 out of the 20 bands who performed at FTTC 2016. The resulting compilation was just released on Bandcamp as No Gatekeepers: First Time’s The Charm 2016 and includes Aster More, Taxes, Dumb Hair, Heretrix, Whipwrom and Joyful Exit, the songs range from gritty and loud, to soft and melodic, to quirky and refreshingly unexpected. Continue reading →

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First Time’s The Charm returns to PhilaMOCA this summer; registration opens February 25th

Littler
Littler | Photo by Emily Burtner | courtesy of the artist

If you’ve ever dreamed of being in a band, here’s your chance: registration for First Time’s the Charm, a concert that features musicians who have never been in a band before or who are playing a new instrument, opens on February 25th.

The festival was held for the first time in 2013 at PhilaMOCA, and it was a resounding success — a number of bands were formed that are still active in the Philly scene, including Littler, who just released a catchy new single “Slippery.” Continue reading →

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Ron Gallo scares me (in a good way) at the First Unitarian Church

Ron Gallo | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

Did you know that every single time Gene Simmons says that rock is dead, a new great rock and roll album is born? Seriously. It’s an actual fact. Or at least I think. Anway, one of the latest people to disprove Simmons — whose idea of rock and roll is to dress up in gothic clown costumes, blast pyrotechnics and sell action figures to distract from the mediocre-ness of his band’s music — is Philly’s own Ron Gallo.

Gallo, who sadly left us for Nashville about two years ago, came back to the city that loves him most (no offense, Nashville, but it’s true) last night to showcase the latest iteration of his ever-evolving style. No longer was he “Americana Ron” or “Roots Rock Ron.” This time around he was “Rock and Roll Ron,” with some other stuff mixed in as well. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Emmylou Harris, Kimya Dawson, Strange Parts, York Street Hustle and more

strange parts
Strange Parts | photo by Adam Haney | courtesy of the band

What’s that you say? It’s a holiday week, it’s a heat wave, everybody’s going down the shore or hiding out in A.C.? Guess what, friends: the music doesn’t stop for any of that, and this week we bring you 14 shows to see in the next seven days — from the all-local Chill Moody stage at Wawa Welcome America to a heavy dose of punk to close your weekend at West Philly’s Lava Space.  Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Abi Reimold, Center City Jazz Fest, Joy Ike, Deer Tick and more

Abi Reimold | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, Philly staple Bitter Bitter Weeks plays its first gig in what seems like an eternity; this weekend, Center City Jazz Fest touches down on the Sansom Street Corridor; and next Monday, it’s a road-trip worthy gig from Deer Tick in State College. Here are 15 concerts to see in and around Philly this week. Continue reading →

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Celebrate (?) tax day with Taxes’ heavy new single “Fractions” from forthcoming EP Don’t Get Caught

Taxes
Taxes | photo by Daniel Nydick | courtesy of the artist

Local indie rock four-piece Taxes is gearing up for the release of their new EP Don’t Get Caught, due out on April 20th, and this tax day we suggest you give a listen to their new single “Fractions.”

The song goes from smooth and subtle to shredding in the first 47 seconds, with fuzzy electric guitar, pounding drums and pronounced bass. All this is contrasted by mostly subdued vocals from singer and songwriter Sameer Rao (an occasional contributor to The Key), who presents a cryptic sense of melancholy and frustration with lyrics like “Waste all my time and energy / to find out what you needed me to be.” Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: The Posies, Strand of Oaks, King Britt, Inara George and more

XPoNential Music Festival | photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com

Let’s send out January in a big way, friends. The weather is unseasonably warm and we’ve got 24 concerts over the next week for you to choose between, centered in Philadelphia with a couple day trips to locales like Bethlehem and Ardmore. Dig in below, and happy concertgoing. Continue reading →