Columbus, Ohio indie-folk collective Saintseneca has had a heavy year of touring since releasing its latest LP, Dark Arc, back in the spring. Tonight, the band makes its third visit to Johnny Brenda’s in the past year. Fronted by singer and songwriter Zac Little with a rotating cast of accompanying players, the band fuses traditional sounds with a contemporary outlook; download a live version of “Happy Alone” performed on NPR’s World Cafe below, and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
Philadelphia and WXPN’s buddy Sean Hoots will be playing at Johnny Brenda’s tonight, celebrating the propulsion of his solo career. His show tonight will spotlight solo material to be released sometime within this year, as his website says, “2013 is ours for the taking. Join me!” For those who want to listen to Mr Hoots immediately can enjoy his solo Bandcamp where has an atmospheric / soundscape album entitled Volume 1 under the name Raise The Dead! Language, or check out Hoots & Hellmouth’s Bandcamp to peruse their many releases. Tickets and information for the 21 and over show with Water Liars and Small Houses can be found here. Below, watch Sean Hoots play his song “Off to Sea I Go”.
Philadelphia/Brooklyn-based band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is in the middle of a pretty big week. Not only is the band’s performance in Philadelphia coming fresh off the Sept. 20th release of its promising third album, Hysterical, but the show also marks the maiden voyage of the new local venue Union Transfer. With the capacity of about 600 people, Union Transfer is a bigger alternative to other Philly venues—such as First Unitarian Church, Johnny Brenda’s, and Kung Fu Necktie—that regularly host R5 Productions shows. If the bigger space is any indication, the group has come a long way since becoming the Internet’s token do-it-yourself Cinderella story six years ago. After a meh sophomore album (2007’s Some Loud Thunder) and a brief hiatus, Hysterical sounds like the band’s celebratory return to playing, full of danceable, upbeat indie pop. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performs with Polica at 8 p.m. at Union Transfer; tickets to the all-ages show are $18–$20. —Marielle Mondon
There is only one Philadelphia-based band that can be classified as a “philharmonic rockestra”: Banned Books. The primary reason is because the local art-rock trio is the only act claiming the term. As for what a “philharmonic rockestra” actually is, who knows? What one sounds like, though, is a lot like Deerhoof—which, coincidentally, Banned Books is opening for tonight. The music of both bands is lacking traditional structure; it’s fractured and atypical. Banned Books puts a greater emphasis on lyrics whereas Deerhoof focuses mainly on progressive instrumental melodies. What works for Banned Books is that, in most of its songs, there is a catchy pop lyric and musical line. The songs are heavy and initially inaccessible, but are upbeat tunes that eventually get your foot tapping. See your first philharmonic rockestra concert tonight at World Cafe Live. Banned Books performs with Deerhoof at 7 p.m. at World Café Live; tickets for the all-ages show are $19–$22. —Caitlyn Grabenstein
The word “anomaly” doesn’t do Deerhoof justice: the San-Franicsco-based art-rock-post-noise quartet (or whatever you want to call it), really is something else. And Friday night—on the heels of the release of the band’s tenth album, Deerhoof vs. Evil—an overjoyed Satomi Matsuzaki and Co. took the stage to prove just that.
Formed back in the mid ’90s, Deerhoof has been churning out head-scratch-inducing albums for close to a decade and a half—albums that have reportedly influenced bands such as The Flaming Lips, The Dirty Projectors, Sufjan Stevens, The Fiery Furnaces, St. Vincent, Grizzly Bear, Of Montreal, and even Radiohead. (The members of Radiohead actually recruited the avant-garde foursome for a leg of their 2008 tour—no small accomplishment for a band that found its humble beginnings as the improvisational remnants of a defunct noise band). For years now, Deerhoof has eschewed accessibility for challenging rhythms and odd time signatures; the songs—at once whimsical and abrasive—are characterized by the puerile coos of lead-singer Matsuzaki, and have been the object of bewilderment and irritation for anyone who isn’t a devotee.
Enter The TLA, Friday, February 11th. At precisely 11:15 p.m. the band emerged before its largest Philadelphia crowd to date: a paint-laden, neon-clad fan base huddled around the kit of drummer Greg Saunier. Guitarist John Dieterich timidly greeted the crowd and catapulted the quartet into a cover of the Ramones’s classic “Pinhead,” the prelude to a schizophrenic set spanning most of the band’s discography. Not too long after, the band performed the Apple O stand-out, “Dummy Discards A Heart,” which featured the band’s most recent addition, guitarist Ed Rodriguez, screeching and writhing between Dieterich’s counterpoint riffs. Meanwhile, Matsuzaki purred and delivered a creaky choreography that resembled a flight attendant’s pre-takeoff instructions. (It involved her making the shape of a heart with her hands and imitating waves.) The attitude was playful, not pretentious; moments later, when the little-known gem “Come See the Duck” found Matsuzaki teaching the lyrics (which literally consist of “Come see the duck”) to the audience after its failed attempt at call-and-response, she did so joyfully, without the slightest hint of condescension.
The rest of the evening was composed of fan-favorites such as “Milk Man,” where Saunier, one of the most talented drummers in the indie/avant scene, especially shines. The tempo hurtled along and lurched in between scattered snare fills and battered bronze. His onstage mannerisms are that of a 10-year-old child behind his first drum set—and yet, Saunier, who graduated with a degree in music composition, is very much the keystone on which the band rests, controlling rhythms and grooves the way a good matador does bovine. As the evening wound on, the band completed a laundry list of tunes from its new album; of these, highlights included “Super Duper Rescue Heads!,” the vigilante love anthem “I Did Crimes For You,” and the bass-driven “The Merry Barracks.” Deerhoof’s lighthearted, childish abandon persisted to the evening’s endearing end, an uproarious encore of “Basket Ball Get Your Groove Back,” which features Matsuzaki parading around stage and exhibiting what sounded like a keen knowledge of sporting vernacular. —James E. Porter
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 11
It’s been just under nine years since Deerhoof released Reveille—the album that would thrust the band into indie-nation’s collective consciousness—on Kill Rock Stars/5RC back in 2002. Since then, the band has cranked out records like clockwork, with seven additional proper full lengths (not to mention 7-inches and EPs) simultaneously confounding and pleasing fans of the band’s fractured art rock. Deerhoof’s latest album is Deerhoof Vs. Evil, and it finds the band doing what it does best: trying not to do the same thing it did on the previous album. Of course, that’s a task that gets more difficult each time around—and, by the time you’re on your 11th album, it might seem near impossible. Vs. Evil is undeniably a Deerhoof record: you’ll hear elements of the band’s previous work (broken down and rebuilt from the ground up, but familiar nonetheless). But it can occasionally be difficult to convince yourself that Vs. Evil is the new album Deerhoof really wanted to make, and not just the collection of ideas that was left over once the members of the band scratched everything they didn’t want to do off the list. Deerhoof performs with Ben Butler, Mousepad, and Prowler at Theatre Of Living Arts at 9 p.m.; tickets to the show are $15.
Also playing: Wild Nothing + Abe Vigoda, Grandchildren at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $10-$12); Oh! Pears + Attia Taylor, Father Figures at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10; Dr. Dog + Head And The Heart, Buried Beds at Electric Factory (8:30 p.m., SOLD OUT); June Divided + The Composure, The Climb at Kung Fu Necktie (7:30 p.m., 21+, $8); The Loved Ones + The Menzingers, Holy Mess at The Ox (8 p.m., all ages, $8-$10)
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 12
Creeping Weeds (record-release show) + Cheers Elephant, Hong Kong Stingray at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10); Writtenhouse (record-release show) + 84, Kuf Knotz at Kung Fu Necktie (7 p.m., 21+, $10); Andrw Lipke And The Prospects + Sisters 3, Cowmuddy, Lady, Joe Duffey’s Underwater Window Garden, Emily Zeitlyn, Charlotte Littlehales at The Fire (8 p.m., 21+, $10)
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 13
Rhys Chatham’s Brass Trio + Chris Forsyth at International House Philadelphia (8 p.m., $12)
For its second visit to WXPN Studios, Philly quintet Prowler debuted an assortment of hyperactive dance tracks from its then-unreleased third offering, Wooly Mammoth. The group’s unbridled energy was impressive. “The guys and gal of Prowler have the uncanny skill to fill up every corner of any room they step into,” recalls session engineer Eric Schuman of his trip into the funkosphere. “Since they were so efficient in busting out their set, Prowler had plenty of time to revisit a favorite from 2008’s En Garde!, dig up an unreleased band theme song that rarely gets played anymore, and test out a song so new it (still) doesn’t have a title.” The band did the same thing while recording a Y-Rock session in 2008—it closed its set with “Alligator,” a song that wouldn’t see a proper release for two years. At this rate, we can expect an album version of “Untitled” by 2012 or so. “All this,” continues Schuman, “While a precariously-affixed mirrorball and beat-sensitive flood lights transformed the roomy studio into the most happening disco in the city.” Experience the funk for yourself when Prowler opens for Deerhoof at the TLA on Feb. 11.
You can give the first three tracks of the seven-song set a listen below; click here for the full session.