By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Queue at Steel City Coffee, Hezekiah Jones at The Ardmore Music Hall, and Dead Milkmen at Clark Park

Queue | photo by Rebecca Aronow | via artist’s Facebook page

We were introduced to these then-Philly scene newcomers last year. Since then, five-piece outfit Queue has been making the moves. Recently, they debuted a live wire single, “Frontier.” It’s an an electric, gauzy track that doesn’t let up in energy. Listen below, and then check out the band live at Steel City Coffee tonight; info on tickets can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

By

Meet Queue: a new five-piece spinning effortless dream pop melodies

Queue | Photo by Tina Letter
Queue | Photo by Tina Letter

“Falling Into Skies,” the debut single from Philly scene newcomers Queue, is like waking up. First, your pupils contract, adjusting to the light. Then your surroundings slowly come into focus, but you’re still groggy.

Queue perfectly captures this feeling of early-morning haze. Singer Olivia Price’s voice is thick and smooth, lethargically holding on to syllables at the ends of phrases. Even the drums have a muted quality to them.

The five-piece is split between D.C. and Philly, but you wouldn’t know it from how cohesive “Falling Into Skies” sounds. Although three-fifths of Queue currently works in corporate, nine-to-five jobs, the goal is to one day all live in the same city and focus on the band. It’s still early, but after listening to “Falling Into Skies,” that proposition doesn’t sound all too unreasonable. In the month since its release, the track has received over 5,000 listens on Soundcloud and has been picked up by radio stations in both the U.K. and France. Continue reading →

By

Just Announced: The Spinto Band to headline the Ninth Annual 2nd Street Festival

The Spinto Band | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

On Sunday, August 6th, Wilmington indie pop outfit The Spinto Band will perform as the headlining act at the 9th annual 2nd Street Festival. The festival takes place between Germantown and Green Streets on 2nd. The all-day event is free and open to families and attendees of all ages, and will feature over 250 vendors that celebrate the community and culture of Northern Liberties.

The Spinto Band’s fun, uptempo tracks sonically realize the perfect summer night, and they are coming in hot off the 10-year anniversary reissue of their record Nice and Nicely Donereleased last month on Bar/None Records and including 12 previously unheard bonus tracks and their mega-hit “Oh Mandy.” The band just headlined Boot and Saddle in South Philly to celebrate the anniversary. Continue reading →

By

Five reasons to see Hedwig and the Angry Inch at The Forrest Theater this week

Hedwig | via kimmelcenter.org

Waiting in the queue in front of Walnut Street’s Forrest Theater last night, it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to like the performance inside. Hedwig and the Angry Inch is, after all, my favorite piece of modern musical theater. John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s glam-tinged songs are energized and anthemic, while the story — about the misadventures of a transgender rocker from East Berlin trying to find her place in the world — is funny, heartbreaking, poignant and endlessly compelling.

But even adjusting my reaction for bias and predisposition, I walked away from opening night last night seriously bowled away. This show was capital-W wow seriously really good. Continue reading →

By

Farewell to a Listening Room: Reflections on the closing of Old City’s Tin Angel

Kristen Hersh at the Tin Angel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Kristen Hersh at the Tin Angel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Back in early December, I saw something at Old City’s famed Tin Angel that I hadn’t seen in forever: a line. A queue of people running down the staircase, out the door, stretching up 2nd Street, waiting in earnest for a performance by alternative-era singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh.

Certainly the 150-capacity room drew packed crowds countless times over the years, but something felt different this night. It was a sold-out show heading into a long string of sold-out show as the venue calendar wound down, this weekend presenting its final concert after more than two decades in business. Tonight, The Hillbenders take the stage in a show curated by the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and it’s the last gig you’ll be able to buy tickets for at the door; tomorrow’s show with Steve Forbert and Saturday’s double-header with Ben Vaughn have long been sold out. And after that, the Tin Angel belongs to the ages. Continue reading →

By

Folkadelphia Session: Lac La Belle

Lac La Belle | photo by Joel Williams | courtesy of the artist
Lac La Belle | photo by Joel Williams | courtesy of the artist

Second to the music, which draws and binds us together, is our shared history with the musicians, which seems to deepen with time. It’s an amazing privilege with Folkadelphia to queue up tracks for a radio show, scroll down the playlist, and think to myself “it was great helping so-and-so out with their last two shows in Philly” and “oh man, I can’t wait for us to premiere such-and-such’s in-studio session that we recorded three months ago, what a blast!” In this folksy music world of ours, when we’re drawn together, we tend to stick together. Then, as albums are released, music is shared, tour dates are booked, on the Folkadelphia side of things, we feel such tremendous pride in hearing and seeing artists evolve and that we possibly lent the smallest little help along the way here in Philadelphia.
Continue reading →

By

Ben Hughes voices the struggles of the common man on this month’s album release

Ben Hughes | Photo via benhughes.bandcamp.com
Ben Hughes | Photo via benhughes.bandcamp.com

New Jersey singer-songwriter Ben Hughes just released the next installment in his epic musical project. At the beginning of this year, Hughes decided that he would release one solo album per month, made up of previously unreleased recordings spanning 2005 to 2012. He reached the halfway point of his project with last month’s release, At the End of My Life. To kick off the next half of the project, he decided to switch gears his month and record an idea that’s been in his head for years. Continue reading →

By

Download The Gallerist’s “lost” Key Studio Session, see them tomorrow at Kung Fu Necktie

The Gallerist in the studio at WXPN | Photo by John Vettese
The Gallerist in the studio at WXPN | Photo by John Vettese

A couple years back, a new band called The Gallerist jumped out from the Philadelphia singer-songwriter scene and grabbed our attention with their plaintive, emotion-laden debut A Falling Waltz. The songwriting vehicle of Mike Collins was rounded out as a solid three-piece with John Holback on drums and Kai Carter on bass.

We caught a couple impressive live sets from them: at a SoFAR Philly show in 2012, opening for Laura Marling in 2013. And when the band released its follow-up EP, Twine, last year, we knew we had to get the band in the studio for a Key Session. Except, unfortunately, the timing was not quite right. Continue reading →

By

SXSW Dispatch: Staying put and slamming around to Against Me!, The Front Bottoms and Placeholder at Brooklyn Vegan’s showcase

Against Me! | Photo by John Vettese
Against Me! | Photo by John Vettese

Part of the appeal of the annual South By Southwest festival is no doubt wandering from venue to venue in downtown Austin, catching bits of sets by dozens of new bands, seeing where the music and the crowd may lead you.

But there’s something to be said for finding a venue – or party, or showcase, or whatever – with a lineup that’s solid through and through, and just parking yourself there for the night. For me, Brooklyn Vegan’s show at the Red 7 Patio last night was just that. The headlining set by Florida’s Against Me! would have been enough to draw me in – their new rager Transgender Dysphoria Blues is already one of the year’s best, and they were at the top of my bands-to-see list – but they shared the bill with a enticing set of their (mostly) punk scene peers, from Lancaster screamers Placeholder to Jersey popsters The Front Bottoms. And, for the most part, all the acts delivered.

California comedian / musical Harvey Sid Fisher got the night to a light start with a set that was briefly fun and mercifully brief. His shtick is pretty one-note – he’s old, and he’s raunchy, and he sings about raunchy old guy things, and yeah. It’s the kind of humor that wears thin quickly, and while he had the modest crowd chuckling at first (many were still queued up in the alley behind the venue), he wrapped it up as their attention began to wane.

Placeholder | Photo by John Vettese
Placeholder | Photo by John Vettese

In contrast, Placeholder followed with a full-throttle set that was too brief. These guys might not have the most accessible sound (if you’ve got an aversion to growly vocals, they aren’t for you) but their energy and chemistry are undeniable, and captivating to watch. Frontman Brandon Gepfer is a very physical performer, flinging himself around the stage, into the speakers and his bandmates who reciprocated right back. He told the crowd that they’re used to playing “basements with like ten people,” so this was the biggest gathering they’d played for on tour. Would have been awesome had they played for a little longer, though, since the patio was just filling up when they left the stage, setting the room up for Gainesville’s Frameworks and their melodic spin on late 90s hardcore (a la At The Drive-In, Boy Sets Fire).

Cheap Girls from Lansing, Michigan was the only real disappointing set of the night – their songs are tremendously hooky power pop earworms akin to early Replacements jams, but their stage presence is nil; singer Ian Graham stands at the mic with his eyes closed, Adam Aymor riffs on guitar with his head buried in his hair, and the crowd predictably bobs their heads while checking Twitter on their phones.

The Front Bottoms, on the other hand, are pure interaction – sing/screamalongs, hi-fives, someone buying singer-guitarist Brian Sella a Guinness and daring him to chug it. The audience packed in towards the front of the stage, and became a mass of pushing, shoving, smiling bodies by the time “Twin-Size Mattress” rolled around Amusing aside: a dude in the crowd who books shows in Orlando talked before their set about how he’d never seen or heard of them, but everybody told him they were great. I concurred, and he countered “But they’re acoustic, though?” “Well, he plays an acoustic guitar,” I explained. “But they’re pretty badass.” “Um, I’ll take your word for it,” he replied.

I guess “badass” is relative, considering he might have been there to see brutal hardcore outfit Touche Amore, who absolutely pummeled the stage with their performance that followed – think the physicality of Placeholder, amped up about five times. Think of the sense of tension and catharsis of Converge, Paint it Black or Pissed Jeans. Again, not a sound for everybody, but holy cow what a spectacle to watch.

Against Me! | Photo by John Vettese

Wrapping the night around 1 a.m. was Against Me!, playing an hour-plus set highlighting the new LP and digging back through the band’s catalog for sure-fire crowd-pleasers like the title track of 2007’s New Wave and the singalong “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” from 2010’s White Crosses. The crowd that had begun to dwindle slightly – it was a super chilly night for an outdoor show – but the people who stayed were massive enthusiasts on par with the devotion The Front Bottoms and Touche Amore saw, slamming and swaying and screaming along.

Since singer-guitarist Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012, the band kind of went into reset mode: as she said in Spin interview back in January, the path to the new album almost destroyed Against Me!, but with the enlistment of new players and perhaps her tightest collection of songs – the album is simultaneously anthemic, provocative, insightful and massively catchy – the band persevered. The patio was a smaller space than Against Me! has probably performed at in a long while, but if the reception the band saw – and the energy it brought to the stage – is any indication, it will prove to be a rare occurrence. Check out photo highlights and a full-show gallery below. Continue reading →