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On Philly’s Great Weights and the future of hardcore

Great Weights
Great Weights | photo by Carolyn Haynes | courtesy of the artist

In the early 90s, the hardcore scene pretty much meant slight variations on a single thing: angry dudes being loud and screaming on stage in front of angry dudes being violent and shoving each other around in the crowd. In some circles, it still means exactly that. Elsewhere, things have grown more nuanced.

Twenty five years ago, Riot Grrrl was a feminist response to the cishetero white male dominance of 90s punk; emo embraced a sensitive, introspective outlook to counter all that rage-for-rage’s-sake. Both subgenres and their offshoots brought us brilliant records, though neither was without its faults — from internal division rooted in scene politics to predatory sad boys using the relatability of their feelings to take advantage of their fan base.

Which brings us to 2018. Is there still something that gives punk a purpose? Or is it just basement shows, ten-year-anniversary full-album tours (or fifteen, or twenty) and little bigger-picture momentum? As somebody who has been a mere observer on the periphery of the scene for my entire life, I’m sure my answer is different than somebody else in the thick of things. But I see the future of punk and hardcore in inclusive labels like Get Better Records and their “QUEER AS IN FUCK YOU” mantra; in events like Break Free Fest, which puts artists of color and other marginalized voices front and center (which, isn’t that act of uplifting kinda the point of a counter-culture?); and in bands like Great Weights. Continue reading →

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Great Weights overcomes self-destructive habits on “After The Drive-In”

Great Weights | photo via greatweights.bandcamp.com

Great Weights have such a necessary, important message that they don’t need to shout to get it across, but it sure is great when they do. The songs on the band’s self-titled EP, which will be released April 13 via Bunny Cat Records, are fueled by a deep anger at the state of the world and an unwavering urgency to change it. Continue reading →

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The anger that fuels Great Weights’ “Morning Sickness” is both personal and universal

Great Weights | photo via greatweights.bandcamp.com

Great Weights call themselves “a band born out of anger and neglect.” More specifically, the band formed out of a collective frustration with underrepresentation in the music scene and a strong pull toward trying to end it. As the story goes, band members Meri Haines, James De La Vega, Al San Valentin, Pat Higgins took time away from their respective projects, coming together to record what would become Great Weights’ first EP.  Continue reading →

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Hall And Oates a lowly #99 on VH1′s “Greatest Artists Of All Time” list

Hall And Oates
No. 99? Say it isn't so!

In preparation for a four-part televised special that will begin airing on September 6, VH1 recently released its list of the “100 Greatest Artists Of All Time.” The good news for Philadelphia is that, hey, we made the list! The bad news is that Philly’s own blue-eyed soul legends Hall & Oates are the city’s sole, sad representative on the list. Not that we expected, say, Schoolly D to rank up there with musical heavyweights such as The Beatles, Iggy & The Stooges, and, uh…George Michael. But, well, yeah.

As with any such list, there’s more than enough outrage to go around regarding rankings and various omissions. (Latina.com, for example, wants to know how no Latin musicians made the cut.) So it’s probably not worth getting riled up about. But still, after going over this latest offering, we can’t help but ask, “Who is VH1?,” “Do they even show music videos anymore?,” and “Where would they rank on our ‘Top 100 Relics Of A Forgotten Music Industry Whose Lists We Don’t Care About’ list?”

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The Week Ahead: Harmony Woods, Kendrick Lamar, Nnamdi Ogbonnaya, The Wonder Years and more

Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar in the “Alright” video | still from video

Between the ridiculous rain and the Ticketfly “cyber incident” shutdown, it’s been a weird week to be a concertgoing Philadelphian. Don’t let that stop you from getting out and getting to the gig, though. Here are 22 concerts you can see in and around town in the next week, from indie folk true believers The Decemberists to reigning rap king Kendrick Lamar and his Top Dawg Entertainment showcase tour. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Ani Di Franco, Marian Hill, Bartees and the Strange Fruit, The Feelies and more

Ani DiFranco | photo by GMD Three | courtesy of the artist
Ani DiFranco | photo by GMD Three | courtesy of the artist

Got plans this week? Because, wow, have we got plans for you. It’s a jam-packed seven days ahead of us, with no fewer than 22 concerts at your fingertips in the Philadelphia region (most within city limits, some a short drive away). Get out. See live music. And we’ll catch up with you on the other side. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Saba, RJD2, Lotus, Franz Ferdinand, Hurray for the Riff Raff and more

Hurray for the Riff Raff | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN

We are here once again with your guide to Philly concerts for the coming week, and as always, your choices are many. Start out tonight with local folks Petunia opening the gig at Johnny Brenda’s, and maybe hustle across town after their set to catch the end of Jukebox The Ghost. Do not miss Saba’s first-ever performance of songs from his new CARE FOR ME project at The Foundry tomorrow. And keep the energy going across the week, ending up at Union Transfer next Monday for the terrific triple-bill of Waxahatchee, Hurray for the Riff Raff and Bedouine. Read on for more about the week ahead: 21 shows to see in Philadelphia this week.  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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The Skeleton Key: Bottle rockets, Satanic Panic, Record Store Day and gigs from Screaming Females to Robyn Hitchcock

Screaming Females | photo by Farrah Skeiky | courtesy of artist
Screaming Females | photo by Farrah Skeiky | courtesy of artist

April Fool’s updates:

Swearin’ is back. HIRS is putting out an album with Shirley Manson from Garbage. Erik B. and Rakim are at the TLA. Oh, and Lou Barlow is playing a small show in a park on the Schuylkill in Southwest Philly. Did I mention that Sheer Mag is recording an album with Hall and Oates? Because that is totally happening.

Okay, so maybe one of those is a lie. I’ll let you figure it out on your own. But as usual in this great city of ours, there’s so much awesome stuff happening that even the absurd seems plausible. I mean, the Eagles won the Super Bowl! Anything can happen. Continue reading →