Just Announced: Julien Baker to perform at Union Transfer with Half Waif in October

julien baker
Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist

The first time I heard Julien Baker was just about a year ago, and by a happy chance it was at the perfect combination of a live show in a small venue when she toured with British dark folk trio Daughter last summer – I’ve been a fan ever since. The Memphis singer-songwriter brings her voice and guitar on stage and leaves her entire soul, baring all and sparing nothing throughout the set that is both so wrenchingly personal and relatable at the same time. Continue reading →


Required Reading: Half Waif’s Nandi Rose Plunkett on being “the girl in the band”

Nandi Plunkett | photo by Tonje Thilesen via

If you haven’t noticed by now, we at The Key are big fans of Pinegrove and Half Waif, two New Jersey bands that share a common denominator in Nandi Rose Plunkett. Both groups find Plunkett as the sole woman, one in a keyboards-backing vocals situation and the other as the founding, writing, and recording frontwoman. In other words, she is a musical force to be reckoned with.

Why, then, in 2017 – especially in an industry that theoretically draws the creatives, the open minds, the dreamers – do we find Plunkett responding to slews of misogynist aggressions against her being simply because that being is female? After originally posting last month on Twitter in response to comments on her part in Pinegrove, Nandi Plunkett has penned an extraordinarily eloquent, insightful, and sharp long-form piece published by Esquire on what it means to be “the girl in the band,” what it feels like to be a woman constantly silenced and disregarded and dismissed as a girl, as a girlfriend, as a pretty face but nothing more. Continue reading →


The Key Presents: Half Waif

Half Waif | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

The weather’s bad, but it holds. Between setting up and short takes while the rain isn’t too hard, Nandi Plunkett throws an industrial trash bag over her keyboard as a makeshift cover, but even the intermittent April showers can’t get her spirits down too much. Resiliency is a big theme of Half Waif‘s music, and in Plunkett’s life, as well. Between passing clouds, Nandi and guitarist Adan Carlo play completely new arrangements of two Half Waif tracks from the recently released form/a EP. In the secluded side yard of the MAAS Building, the intimate strength of Half Waif springs to resounding life. This is The Key Presents: Half Waif. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Half Waif at Everybody Hits, Kneebody at Johnny Brenda’s, John Mayer at Wells Fargo Center and more…

half waif
Half Waif | photo by Phil Randall | via artist’s Facebook page

Nandi Rose Plunkett brings her Half Waif project to Everybody Hits tonight. Doing double duty as keyboardist in Pinegrove, Plunkett’s solo project hones in on an electronic pop that was beautifully and intimately displayed on this year’s form/a EP. Stream “Severed Logic” below and pick up tickets for the all-ages show with Shannen Moser and Russel the Leaf here.

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Half Waif stands at a crossroads on “Frost Burn”

Half Waif | photo by Landon Speers | via the artist's Facebook page
Half Waif | photo by Landon Speers | via the artist’s Facebook page

Recently, a lot of us got to know Nandi Rose Plunkett as the keyboardist for  alt-country rockers Pinegrove, but she’s been recording and performing as Half Waif for years. Her new EP form/a drops later this month, so if keyboard-driven indie pop is your thing, keep your eyes (ears?) peeled. We already got a sense of what it might sound like in danceable first single “Severed Logic”, and now, we’re getting a second preview with “Frost Burn,” which you can stream below. Continue reading →


Watch Julien Baker’s new video for “Turn Out The Lights” ahead of her Union Transfer show

Julien Baker | courtesy of the artist

Julien Baker‘s lead single “Appointments” from her upcoming sophomore LP Turn Out The Lights has been giving us chills for the last two months. The album — a highly-anticipated follow-up to 2015’s Sprained Ankle — is out in just over two weeks, and we’ve been anxiously awaiting another murmur from Baker camp. Today, it’s finally arrived in the form of title track “Turn Out The Lights” and a beautiful video to go along with it. Continue reading →


Julien Baker’s new “Appointments” is a heartbreaker in the best way

Julien Baker | photo by Nolan Knight | courtesy of the artist

If you’re in need of an emotion-filled song to listen to this weekend, Julien Baker has got you covered. The Tennessee songwriter has been a favorite of folk and indie crowds alike for quite some time now, and just announced her upcoming sophomore album Turn Out The Lights, due out October 27 on Matador Records. The first single, “Appointments,” is a bit of a heartbreaker, but that doesn’t make us any less excited to hear the rest of this highly anticipated record. And Philly, we’re in luck – Baker’s extensive fall tour hits Union Transfer on October 29, with support from the always-excellent Half Waif. Tickets are on sale now, and it’s sure to be a show you won’t want to miss. Continue reading →


XPN Fest Recap: Pinegrove gets day one under way with an explosive set

Pinegrove | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN

“It’s a great day to perform, now we just have to get verified on Instagram.” After a slew of last-minute schedule changes due to an ominous weather forecast, New Jersey natives Pinegrove opened up the 2017 XPoNential Music Festival on the smaller Marina Stage in Wiggins Park for what was one of the most anticipated sets of the weekend. The XPN Fest crowd had come out in full force with folding chairs and picnic blankets, but from the moment the band from Montclair stepped onto the stage the fans (some who had come from hours away just for this set) matched the energy and intensity that emanated from the stage. Continue reading →


Mitski takes hold of Union Transfer with an arresting performance

Mitski | photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN

“When I last came here I was opening for another band and I remember thinking that this was some huge stadium venue,” said Mitski Miyawaki from the stage at Union Transfer on Friday night. “But now, it seems like the perfect size.”

Mitski was wrong. The wide, cavernous hall of Union Transfer was nowhere near large enough to contain her, though I’m not so sure any venue would. There is filling a room, which Mitski indeed did for the duration of her long-ago sold out show, and then there is owning a room. Few artists working today display the kind of quiet command which has become her trademark, able to arrest as easily with a soft croon as an impassioned howl. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mitski at Union Transfer, Cayetana at Skid Row Garage & more

Mitski | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist
Mitski | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Indie rock goddess Mitski returns to Philadelphia tonight in another round of touring to support her latest album Puberty 2The singer-songwriter has made her way through several local venues from our own World Cafe to First Unitarian Church to PhilaMOCA and more, and this time around she has graduated to headlining Union Transfer. Mitski’s cutting lyrics and powerful voice driven by electric guitar makes for an intimate live performance in both the quiet moments and in the loud no matter the size of the venue. The night will also be a hometown show for Philly-based opener Half Waif who will be on the road with Mitski for the duration of the tour. For more information on the sold out show, click here. Continue reading →