The Show Goes On: Johnny Brenda’s, Kung Fu Necktie, Festival Pier are still rocking on Pope weekend

Alt-J | Photo by Kate McCann |
Alt-J | Photo by Kate McCann |

It’s been 36 years since the the Pontiff has graced our city. While many are excited for this historic event, there are just as many — if not more — who are either planning to hole themselves up in their home or flee Philly for more the burbs or the shore. Don’t worry, though. For those braving the Papal lockdown, there are still plenty of concerts in the Philly area to help you momentarily escape the bedlam of the weekend.

Today we’ll give you a rundown of what’s still going on, beginning with what’s happening in Philly proper. Continue reading →


15 reasons why Philly’s music scene will go from 10 to 11 in 2013

DRGN KNG Photo by Nicky Devine
As far as the local music scene goes, we thought 2012 was an excellent year. Our hats go off to the dozens of bands across an impressive, diverse range of genres for notching things up last year. Roll call: Dr. Dog. War On Drugs. Meek Mill. Hop Along. Cheers Elephant. Arc In Round. Toy Soldiers. Hezekiah Jones. Lushlife. Work Drugs. Chill Moody. Sun Airway. The Stray Birds. Purling Hiss. Free Energy. The Fleeting Ends. Aaron Brown. Res. Low Cut Connie. Spacin’. Swearin’ (there’s a double bill we want to see). Shark Tape. In The Pocket. DRGN KNG. Cold Fronts. Moosh & Twist. Nothing. RJD2. Night Panther. Reef The Lost Cauze. Buried Beds. Vacationer. Ape School. Adrien Reju. The Spinto Band. Ground Up. Vintage Kicks. Pissed Jeans. The legendary Roots crew. Santigold. Birdie Busch. Zilla Rocca. Scot Sax. Man Man. Schoolly (don’t need the “D” anymore, he’s just “Schoolly”). Freeway. Strand of Oaks. Good Old War. King Britt. Heyward Howkins. Arctic Splash. White Birds Chiddy Bang. GrandeMarshall. Meg Baird. City Rain. Juston Stens and The Get Real Gang. The Money Making Jam Boys. Nicos Gun.

Who’d we forget? Probably dozens more. Our apologies if we left you out. We hope you get the point though; these days, Philly is miles deep and miles wide with talent and creativity. If 2012 was a “ten,” here’s 15 reasons why Philly’s music scene is about to go to 11 in 2013. Continue reading →


Hop Along playing Johnny Brenda’s in July with DRGN KNG and Baltimore’s Secret Mountains

Hop Along

DRGN KNG and Baltimore’s Secret Mountains are performing with Hop Along at Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday, July 14th. Hop Along recently released the excellent Get Disowned. Go here to download a new song from the album. Below, watch the video that Secret Mountains recorded at Converse Rubber Tracks for the song “Weepy Little Fingers.” Kelly Laughlin, lead singer of Secret Mountains, fronts the band like a modern day Grace Slick while the band plays out their shoegazy tendencies like The Verve. With DRGN KNG in the mix, this is going to be a show you won’t want to miss. Go here for tickets and more information about the show.


Download a new Cheers Elephant song “Doin’ It Right,” (playing World Cafe Live in March)

We’re going to lead with this video of the legendary Chubby Checker performing “The Twist” with Cheers Elephant on NBC’s 10! Show because it’s incredibly surreal.

Now that we got that colorful bit of Philly rock history out of the way, let’s look to the future of Cheers Elephant who release it’s wonderful new sunshiny, psychedelic rock record Like Wind Blows Fire locally on March 2nd. That same night WXPN Welcomes the band to World Cafe Live with openers DRGN KNG, The Extraordinaires and Dangerous Ponies. Get tickets and more information here. Below, watch the video for “Falling Out” and download the song “Don’ It Right” to play – as we’ve been doing – on repeat.


And the next big Philly band is…….

Illustration of Timothy Showalter of Strand Of Oaks by Johnnie Cluney for

At the turn of the New Year, the folks at NPR Music contacted WXPN and asked us to pick the “next big band to break out of Philly.” Other stations, like The Current in Minneapolis, KUT in Austin, Seattle’s KEXP, OPB (Oregon Public Radio), two New York stations (including WFUV at Fordham University and WNYC), and KCRW in Los Angeles were also approached. We were each challenged with the same job: pick one band, one song, and write three or four sentences about why we think the band would “blow up.”

Not an easy thing to do.

How did we choose Timothy Showalter of Strand Of Oaks as our number one choice, you ask? I reached out to the XPN staff to help pull a list together. I was looking for consensus, if there was any, around “the one.” The following folks contributed to this: John Vettese, producer of The Key Studio Sessions, XPN2 local music host, and music critic for the City Paper; Helen Leicht, WXPN mid-day host and host of the Philly Local hour on XPN; Fred Knittel, host of Folkadelphia on XPN2; Kate Bracaglia, XPN2 DJ, blogger at Underwater Explosions, and freelance music writer; Gene Shay, the legendary of host of The Folk Show on XPN, and myself.

First, let me say that some of our contributors did not follow the rules. Some sent me two “bands that will break” this year; which is okay. Picking one band from amongst the dozens of the incredible bands that in the Philly music scene is really, really hard. Go to NPR Music here to see what bands were chosen by the other stations. That said, while Strand Of Oaks was our final decision, we wanted to also recognize the other bands who were chosen by our committee of local music mavens. These bands are:


Hoots & Hellmouth

Work Drugs

Break It Up


Bleeding Rainbow

Sandra Bae