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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 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: 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 →

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The Skeleton Key: A Blizzard of gigs for March including Creten lutes, London postpunks, and a Bugg

Palm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Palm performs at the First Unitarian Church on March 26th | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

You heard that story about Barbara Streisand getting her dog cloned, twice? I’ve been thinking about getting the same thing done to myself, just so I maybe can go to all the awesome shows happening this month. Unfortunately I went to school for journalism and not biomedical engineering so instead of having a mad scientist lair full of half-baked clones walking into walls while screaming, “I can’t wait for Superchunk and Swearin’ next month!” … I’m writing this column saying the same.

Welcome to the March edition of the Skeleton Key, your friendly neighborhood gossip column. As I sit here working on this, the weather report is calling for nonstop rain and possibly even snow for the next 24 hours. But just because it’s gross out doesn’t mean you should stay inside! It doesn’t keep bands home and so it shouldn’t keep you home. So bundle up and get to the gig. 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 →

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PREMIERE: Callowhill paints with sound on The Way Out

Callowhill | photo by Maura Kirk | courtesy of the artist
Callowhill | photo by Maura Kirk | courtesy of the artist

Callowhill is many things: a street that jogs an east-west path from the Delaware River to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a post-industrial neighborhood just north of Center City that (legend has it) inspired David Lynch’s Eraserhead. It’s the surname of William Penn’s second wife, Hannah, who ran the state of Pennsylvania after her husband had several strokes. And it’s a four-piece rock outfit that captures introspections and emotions in a wash of interlocking guitars, overdriven tones, and drifting vocal leads.

The band is comprised of Julia Gaylord on guitar and vocals, Katy Otto on drums, John Pettit on bass and vocals and Nikki Karam on lead guitar, and they’ve been active on the Philadelphia scene since 2014. Following up on their self titled 7″, which came out in 2015, the band releases its Jeff Zeigler-recorded debut LP The Way Out on Otto’s Exotic Fever Records next week, and celebrates with a headlining gig at Boot and Saddle on Wednesday, August 30th. We’re thrilled to give you a first listen to the album today. Continue reading →