Firefly on the Fly, Day Four: The Shins, Phantogram, Muse, Hamilton Leithauser, Hardwork Movement, Busta Rhymes and more

The Shins at Firefly 2016 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Our ears are still ringing from this weekend’s tremendously fun excursion at Firefly 2017. A review is coming later this week, but for today, we bring you photos from our final day in the Woodlands of Dover, Delaware…from Busta Rhymes kicking off the day to Philly faves Hardwork Movement in the campground, Hamilton Leithauser soldiering through string breakage on the main stage and Bishop Briggs playing a dynamic set on the festival’s Treehouse stage, dueling stints from top-form indie rockers The Shins and the always-compelling electro rock royalty Phantogram, and an over-the-top energized closing set from Muse. Continue reading →


PHOTOS: Hardwork Movement, Aphra, ILL Doots and Maitland threw down at NPR’s Tiny Desk Philly concert

Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | <a href="" target="_blank"></a>
Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN |

To kick off the month of May, the folks at NPR Music brought their #TinyDeskContest tour to Philadelphia for a terrific night of music for a sold out crowd at World Cafe Live upstairs featuring some of our favorite artists from the city: high-energy hip-hop bands Hardwork Movement and ILL DOOTS, ethereal electronic singer and songwriter Aphra and expressive rockers Maitland. Check out scenes from the night below, care of our photographer Rachel Del Sordo.
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Just Announced: Offa Rex (The Decemberists + Olivia Chaney), Pinegrove, The Dove & The Wolf, Hardwork Movement and more added to XPoNential Music Festival 2017

Offa Rex | photo courtesy of the artist
Offa Rex | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

The lineup of the 2017 XPoNential Music Festival keeps growing, with today’s addition of Offa Rex — a new collaboration between indie rock troubadours The Decemberists and singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney — to WXPN’s July gathering on the Camden waterfront. The band, which releases its debut album The Queen of Hearts July 7th on Nonesuch Records, blends traditional English-Irish-Scotch songwriting with folk rock and psychedelia. Listen to their interview with NPR Music’s Bob Boilen below. Continue reading →


The High Key Portrait Series: Hardwork Movement

Hardwork Movement | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

Philly’s newest live-hip-hop collective is working this Spring on perhaps their most ambitious project to date. Historically, where Hardwork Movement’s live shows boast a full band with woodwinds and brass, their albums feature produced beats. But as MC Sterling Duns explains, for the first time, the crew has recently brought their whole band into the studio, determined to document the energy and sound of their shows with their first live recording. As Duns puts it, they wanted to “capture that, bottle that up, so people can take that home with them.”

Packaging the magic of being there into any medium can be challenging, especially when it comes to a crew like this one. The biggest thing about Duns, Jeremy Keys, RB Ricks and Rick Banks — the thing that comes across so immediately and infectiously in person (and, it’s pertinent to note here, what any written interview might also stand to lose, in translation) is their chemistry, the personality of each of the four of them as individuals that informs the rapport and the charm of the group as a whole as well. These longtime friends share history, and the love for music and for their hometown that serves organically to shape their shows, their compositions, their productions and performances, all styled with a wide and eclectic range of artistic influences.

They’ll play World Cafe Live Tuesday night for NPR Music’s sold-out Tiny Desk Philly concert. Later in the month, they’ll return to one of their favorite venues, Johnny Brenda’s, and for the first time will be featured at Firefly Festival in Dover this Summer, among other appearances this year. And in the meantime, they’re working toward a new album, and toward their commitments to supporting and mentoring the students of Play On Philly’s youth orchestra program too. Continue reading →


ILL DOOTS, Hardwork Movement and more will play NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Philly 2017 concert


After a lively third year of over 6000 entries and a knockout winning video from New Orleans outfit Tank & The Bangas, NPR Music is once again taking its Tiny Desk Contest on the road, and it swings through Philadelphia on May 2 at World Cafe Live.

The all-Philly lineup will feature two hip-hop bands near and dear to The Key’s hearts. ILL DOOTS, a South Philly collective that just recorded a Key Studio Session last month, will perform after delivering an impressive Tiny Desk submission featuring their stirring and socially conscious anthem “Black Matter.” Hardwork Movement, a band we’ve loved since hearing their first single “Shine” a year and a half ago, is also on the bill on the strength of their breathtaking new “Becca’s Jam,” making its debut in their Tiny Desk submission. Two more artists will be announced closer to the event; stay tuned for more on that. Continue reading →


Hardwork Movement gets reflective on “Some Winter”

Hardwork Movement
Hardwork Movement | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

A day where the Philadelphia region is (mostly) at home and looking out our windows, watching over a foot of snow pile up, is a good day for reflection. Philly hip-hop collective Hardwork Movement does just that, sans actual snow, in its latest video for “Some Winter,” a track from its recent Draft Night EP.

The band is sitting on a bench in West Philly’s Clark Park, reminiscing about the last time they played Johnny Brenda’s — presumably getting psyched for their next gig there: next Thursday, Marcy 23rd with KOI Child — when they spot MC Sterling Duns’ ex across the way, on a date with someone new. Continue reading →


Watch Hardwork Movement groove in reverse all around Philly for the “On the Rise” video

Hardwork Movement | photo via

Philly hip-hop sensations Hardwork Movement are wasting no time getting 2017 off to a productive start. After packing the house at Johnny Brenda’s and then laying low for the holidays, the nine-piece emerged this week to debut a new music video for their recent single “On The Rise.” Shot in and around Philadelphia this autumn, it shows the core four-piece of Sterling Duns, Jeremy Keys, R.B. Ricks and Rick Banks grooving at recognizable locales from North Broad to the art museum, and everything looks all well-and normal until a jacket flies in from the wings and lands itself on Duns, or a sheet of paper uncrumples as Ricks and Keys pass it back and forth.

Inspired by The Pharcyde’s “Drop” video from the 90s, HWM shot the action in reverse and played it back to trippy effect. Continue reading →


Hardwork Movement brings an amazing year of shows and new music to a close with their new EP Draft Night

Hardwork Movement
Hardwork Movement | Photo by Zack Garlitos | courtesy of the artist

It has been a year of continuous wins for our favorite nine-piece Philly hip-hop group, Hardwork Movement. (Not to be confused with our favorite eight-piece Philly hip-hop group.)

Since the January 2016 release of their debut LP, Good Problems, the fiercely Philly collective has been gaining momentum in the city that they are so proud to call home. Tonight, Hardwork Movement keeps the ball rolling with their show at Johnny Brenda’s, in conjunction with this milestone comes the release of their EP Draft Night. This five-track mixtape features everything we love about Hardwork Movement’s music: confident and energetic verses, jazzy instrumental arrangements and content that perfectly coincides with their mantra “for the people.” Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hardwork Movement at Johnny Brenda’s, Sorority Noise at First Unitarian Church, Daughter at The Electric Factory and more

Hardwork Movement
Hardwork Movement | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philadelphia hip-hop collective Hardwork Movement is playing a record release show at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The group’s music boasts intricate jazz-tinged instrumental arrangements and a fierce pride of their deep roots in The City of Brotherly Love. 2016 was a fantastic year for the nine-member group: earlier this year they released their debut LP Good Problems, and a few months later they signed to Chill Moody’s #nicethingsMUSIC imprint. Come help Hardwork Movement celebrate and get a taste of their mixtape Draft Night at their last show of 2016 in Fishtown. Brooklyn-bred Tacuma Bradley’s Unity Band and Philadelphia singer-songwriter Julia Rainer are also on tonight’s bill. Check out the WXPN Concert Calendar for more information on this 21+ show, and check out Hardwork Movement’s performance of “City Bars” during a session with Philadelphia-collective Out of Town Films. Continue reading →