Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hamilton Leithauser at Union Transfer, Ratboys at Everybody Hits, Telepathic at Kung Fu Necktie, and more

Hamilton Leithauser at Firefly 2016 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Hamilton Leithauser played a stunning show at Johnny Brenda’s at the beginning of the year, and now he’s moving his expansive sound into a bigger space with a headlining gig at Union Transfer. Known as the former lead vocalist of the Walkmen, Leithauser released an album with Rostam last year and a song with Angel Olsen just a few weeks ago, which you can listen to below. Courtney Marie Andrews opens tonight’s show; find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Just Announced: PUP will headline Franklin Music Hall this September

PUP | photo by Vanessa Heins | courtesy of the artist
PUP | photo by Vanessa Heins | courtesy of the artist

By the looks of it, Toronto punk four-piece PUP is about to spend most of the next year of their life on tour around the world. And deservedly so — their new Morbid Stuff record is their strongest work to date, amplifying and expanding their trademark gang vocal ragers about mental health into sonic territory reminiscent of R.E.M. (the opening title track) and The Hold Steady (listen to frontperson Stefan Babcock get his Craig Finn on during the spoken-sung “Kids”). Continue reading →


“A musical keg of West Philly weirdo dynamite”: Reflections on two decades of the genre-defying Northern Liberties

Northern Liberties, circa 2003 | photo by Debbie Travis | courtesy of the artist

West Philly post-punk three piece Northern Liberties has been a band for so long that when they played their first show in February of 2000 the neighborhood they borrowed their name from was still a mostly forgotten blip on the radar. Fast forward almost two decades and the band — Justin Duerr on vocals and percussion, his brother Marc on drums, and their lifelong friend Kevin Riley on bass — are set to release their seventh album Parallel Hell later this year.

To say that Northern Liberties sounds like anything else out there would be to do a disservice to what they’ve managed to create over the years. But also this is a band that has comically defied categorization: reviews have compared them to everything from Green Day to Joy Division to Nirvana, Lightning Bolt, Crass, and even Guided By Voices. Clearly something is going on here, even if the band members are usually quite baffled by the comparisons.

“I swear to fucking God this is true: none of us ever heard that God damn Lightning Bolt,” Justin Duerr told The Key. “They weren’t on my radar. I never listened to that much stuff that was noisy. … [but] for the first four years that we played, almost at every show somebody would be like, ‘I get it, you worship at the altar of the mighty Lightning Bolt.’”

Nothing against the Providence bass and drums duo but he’s right: just because Northern Liberties have a similar lack of guitar going on doesn’t automatically make them a noise rock band. Continue reading →


PUP lands in the year 2059 for its new “Kids” video

PUP | photo by Vanessa Heins | courtesy of the artist

Before their forthcoming record Morbid Stuff is released on April 5, Toronto punks PUP have shared a futuristic new video for “Kids,” the single they released a few weeks back. The band previously described “Kids” as something of a nihilistic depressive love song, and the darkly hilarious video brings that concept to life as PUP projects what life may be like for them 40 years down the line. Turns out, 2059 isn’t all fun and games — watch below to find out what PUP’s imaginary future entails. Continue reading →


PUP find community in a sick, sad world on “Kids” from new Morbid Stuff LP

PUP | photo by Vanessa Heins | courtesy of the artist

We last saw Toronto punk four-piece PUP headline a packed and sweaty Union Transfer on the heels of their acclaimed The Dream Is Over LP, and in the intervening years, the world has become an increasingly weirder and more alienating place. But in these times, community is even more important than ever, which seems to be the theme of the band’s new single “Kids.”
Continue reading →


Foxing brings drama, high energy, and beautiful catharsis to Union Transfer

Foxing | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN |

You’ve got to hand it to Foxing; the St. Louis experimental rock outfit knows how to set a mood.

Before they stepped on stage at Union Transfer, all the lights venue’s lights powered off, and into the shivering pitch blackness piped the ethereal tones of Enya’s “Only Time.” Not the song I was expecting to hear at this juncture, but as the pulsing green lights faded up and the band walked out on stage — each clad in matching Foxing sports tees with corresponding surnames on the back — it totally worked. It was a bit of serious drama, a bit of ironic irreverence, and as frontperson Conor Murphy strutted to the edge of the stage, arms flailing at the front row like a conductor wearing a huge grin, he was the living embodiment of this dichotomy. Continue reading →


Hop Along wrangles with sympathy and understanding in two parts on “Not Abel”

Hop Along
Hop Along | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist
Philly’s Hop Along will release its latest LP, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, on April 6th via Saddle Creek Records, and today the band released the latest teaser from the album.

“Not Abel” is a journey of a song in two parts. Opening as a stately, waltzing English folk ballad with immaculate string arrangements by Sarah Larsen of local folk faves Ladybird, the song progresses across lyrical images of war and poverty that could be the distant past as much as they could be today. Just before the three minute mark, a dissonant orchestral squall gives way to a rousing indie rock riff, and the song shape shifts into anthem territory for the last minute and 36. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Brendan Menapace’s artists that should just move to Philly already

Pup | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Brendan Menapace beckons a handful of bands to move to the 215.

Philadelphia is awesome. We know this. From huge rooms with expensive sound systems and multiple bars to batting cages, we have some of the best places to check out live music in the country. We’ve cultivated the growth of artists that are now world-renowned, and we’ve played adoptive home to artists who have moved here. I think it’s great that bands and artists want to move to Philly, especially coming from places that used to be the hubs of culture, like New York or LA. Given how huge Philly is (and thanks to the condos that are popping up everywhere, we guess?) we have plenty of room for more people. So, here are a few bands that I think should just move to Philadelphia already, rather than prolonging the inevitable. Continue reading →