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 →


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 →


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

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 →


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 →


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 →


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

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 →


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

XPoNential Music Festival | photo by Joe Del Tufo |

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 →


Items Tagged Philadelphia: Weather changes moods

Hannah Frances | via

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

I will never not tell you to go see live music in some way or another. It’s part of my role here at The Key — shining a light on the artists that dwell in Philadelphia, as well as the spaces where their art comes to life. It’s just that, often, there’s so much of both of those things.

Friday night, I had a ridiculous amount of gigs to choose between. Two record release parties were on the calendar — one for Radiator Hospital, who headlined the church in support of the awesome and uplifting Play The Songs You Like, and one for Hound, who played Space 1026 to celebrate the asskicking Born Under 76. Technically, there were three, if you consider that The Lame-Os’ opening slot on the Preen / Pears gig at Everybody Hits was in celebration of their new self-titled jawn; and on the non-yay-new-album front, Vita and the Woolf headlined Johnny Brenda’s and The Overcoats played Arden. (To say nothing of huger shows like Ben Folds at The Fillmore, Brand New at the Tower, etc.)

Sometimes we have an embarrassment of riches. Sometimes it’s fine (and necessary) to step away from it all and collect your head. I ultimately chose the Vita show on Friday night — and I’m totally glad I did, it was a thrill to see a band I’d first seen perform to maybe a dozen people at Ortlieb’s a few years back galvanize a sold-out crowd at one of Philly’s most popular venues — but I also haven’t left my house since, pretty much.

And it’s been wonderful. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done, I’ve watched a couple movies, and I’ve listened to a lot of music — stuff that’s been accumulating in my New Music playlist on iTunes as well as new finds on the Philadelphia Bandcamp tag. We are now solidly, seriously in the autumn weather zone, and I’m all-around loving it: the temperature stability after all the seasonal elongation and upheaval we experienced earlier this year, the emergence of playfully macabre decor ahead of Halloween, and the way the turning of the leaves and the cooling of the air guides artists inward to a more reflective headspace.

If that’s the place you’re in as well, you’ll probably find a thing or two to love in the fifteen releases below.

Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The War on Drugs at The Dell Music Center, Full Bush at Kung Fu Necktie, Graham Nash at Sherman Theater

The War on Drugs
The War on Drugs | photo by Emmett Malloy | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, Philly psych rock heroes The War on Drugs will play their first hometown show in two and a half years at the Dell Music Center in support of their fantastic new record, A Deeper Understanding. If that’s not enough reason to get you out to Fairmount Park East on a Thursday night, the concert is a benefit for Connor Barwin’s Make The World Better foundation, which has been rehabbing parks and playground across the city since 2014 — their 2017 project will be announced at the concert tonight — and openers Land of Talk put out a fantastic record this year as well, via Saddle Creek. Tickets to the concert are still available, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch the glorious, Philly-shot video for “Pain” below. Continue reading →