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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 →

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Philadelphia Punk Legends Flag of Democracy announce show at Golden Tea House on 12/15

Philadelphia punk legends Flag of Democracy (F.O.D.) recently announced a show at the modern day punk haven Golden Tea House. After headlining the Philly Punx Picnic at FDR Park this past summer, and re-releasing their second full length album 23 (listen below) this past September on SRA Records, F.O.D. showed it is still a big part of the Philly punk scene. Their music has stood as an influence for hardcore and punk bands since the eighties.

Guitarist and vocalist Jim McMonagle plays at breakneck speeds that have not slowed down a bit since the band’s heyday. Their live show is still full of one-minute burners that are a result of swift licks and and barely audible yelling. Alongside McMonagle is Dave Rochon, singing backup and playing equally fast riffs on bass, and Bob Walker, hammering the drums in a way that makes you think he must have some kind of mechanical component to him. Seeing these now forty-somethings play at FDR over the summer was the pinnacle of punk rock sublime for me. The clatter of the tattooed and hair-spiked kids’ skateboards behind the gritty yelling of these punks that never fully grew up was total evidence that this genre is still alive. Make sure to get to the gig, as F.O.D. is not only a legendary Philly band, but one of the fastest bands you will ever see.

Also on the bill, +HIRS+ is a queer thrash band that is probably the heaviest group in the Philly scene right now. In the process of listening to their 100 song LP (listen below), which is totally composed of songs that are shorter than a minute, +HIRS+ brings some of the most brutal riffs I have heard in recent years. Expect a destructive set from these hardcore locals. The night will also feature sets by Regular Adults and Spectrum Disorder (featuring a member of Autistic Behavior).

Find more info on the show on the Facebook event page. You can also pick up FOD’s album 23 here and +HIRS+‘s album First 100 Songs here.

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The Skeleton Key: Dancehall reggae from Jamaica, psych noise from Italy, post-punk from England…September has you covered!

Hurry Up! | photo via R5 Productions

It’s unreal just how much is happening in Philly this month. I know, I know: I say that every column. But it’s true! Never forget how lucky we are to be living in this great city that has so much going on every single night. Welcome to the September edition of the Skeleton Key. From space rock at PhilaMOCA to Mexican Independence Day at Penn’s Landing to all kinds of punk: we’ve got you covered. Continue reading →

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HIRS lines up a hit parade of guests, from Shirley Manson to Laura Jane Grace and Marissa Paternoster, for new LP

HIRS’ Friends. Lovers. Favorites. LP cover art | via SRA Records

The only thing more exciting than the mere existence of a new LP by the always brilliant Philadelphia punks HIRS is the veritable who’s who of feminist and queer icons lending their voices to Friends. Lovers. Favorites.

They include Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!), Shirley Manson (Garbage), Sadie Switchblade (G.L.O.S.S.), Martin Crudo (Limp Wrist), Alice Bag (The Bags), and Marissa Paternoster (Screaming Females), along with many more. The album will be released April 20th jointly by Get Better Records and SRA Records, and pre-orders are available here. Continue reading →

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Plow United is releasing a new album called Three, listen to the first single “Everything”

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

Praise be to PLOW: 90’s Philly/West Chester punk rock icons Plow United have shared the details for their new album Three and have released the album’s first single, “Everything.”

“Everything” is classic old-school punk rock – chunky chords, earworm melodies, exploding drums, middle finger in the air – everything that brought the band to where they are today, hiatus and all. The self-referential single has been released as a 7″ with a cover of Queen‘s “39” as the b-side, which you can purchase here. Plow’s most recent release was the “Delco” single from 2014. Continue reading →

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Philly punk favorites Plow United will play Philamoca in May

Plow United | Photo by Isaac Turner | courtesy of the artist
Plow United | Photo by Isaac Turner | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia Rock City, take note: regional punk faves Plow United are coming to PhilaMOCA on Saturday, May 21st.

In its late 90s heyday, the band played numerous shows around Philly and the east coast, putting out two records (Plow United and Goodnight Sellout!) before disbanding in 1998. Back by popular demand, the band (consisting of Brian McGee, Sean Rule, and Joel Tannenbaum) got back together in 2011 to play sporadic gigs and release more music here and there. Continue reading →

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Philly Boy, Part 2: Listen to Jon Wurster guest DJ on the Indie Rock Hit Parade

Jon Wurster | Photo by Eric Schuman
Jon Wurster | Photo by Eric Schuman

It’s always a good time when drummer Jon Wurster (Superchunk, the Mountain Goats) stops by the Indie Rock Hit Parade. This time around, Jon brought with him a batch of classic and rare Philly-centric indie and hardcore, along with some new and (perhaps rightfully) forgotten tracks. Jon also chats with host Eric Schuman in an extended conversation about his comedy partnership with Tom Scharpling, and how the duo are bringing The Best Show on the road for a live tour. Speaking of, you can see Scharpling and Wurster at Union Transfer on Sunday, December 13th.

Continue reading →