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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Halfro at RiverRink, Myrrias at Johnny Brenda’s, Second Sky at Tellus360

Halfro | Photo via www.facebook.com/HalfroMusic
Halfro | Photo via www.facebook.com/HalfroMusic

Philly hip-hop group Halfro are putting on a free show at the Blue Cross RiverRink Summerfest tonight with The Bul Bey, as part of The Key’s Waterfront Sessions. Halfro are coming off their latest album release Squalor, while The Bul Bey’s 2014 single “Where I’m From” was a lead-in to this year’s awesome LP Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies. He was also in for a Key Studio Session recently. The show, presented by us here at The Key, is free (did we mention that already?), and all ages, so you have no excuse not to be at the RiverRink tonight for this performance. Check out the XPN Concert Calendar for more info. Continue reading →

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13 (featuring Bardo Pond, Girlpool, Moosh & Twist and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13
Photo by Ola Baldych | facebook.com/ola.baldych

I don’t want to gush. But I’d be lying if I said that this latest collection of performances from The Key Studio Sessions wasn’t special to me.

In the past four months, I’ve recorded one of my favorite Philadelphia bands of the past 20 years – shamanistic psychedelic rock masters Bardo Pond, whose performance was a thrill – as well as one of my favorite new Philadelphia bands – the brilliant duo Girlpool, transported locally from LA this winter with a unique sound and an incredible collection of songs in tow. I also recorded a local guitar icon whose work I’ve admired since I first began covering the scene for City Paper 15 years ago, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner, doing a set of his raga-influenced compositions on the 22-stringed chaturangui. (Brenner also sat in on lap steel with folk outfit Kicking Down Doors.)

And that’s only the beginning. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Folkadelphia, Halfro and more

Folkadelphia
Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.

Folkadelphia premiered a new project called Unsung this week. The radio show / music explorers explain that “In the history of music, there are many unsung artists and albums that we firmly clutch close to our hearts” and they will dig into some of those albums in the coming months. The first chapter features Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain and conversations with the people who were a part of it. Listen to the special here and download a compilation of local artists covering the songs below.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Halfro

Photos by Dan Lidon | danlidon.com

A year ago when The Key’s Sameer Rao first introduced us to Philadelphia five-piece Halfro, he said that “comparing [the band] to its most obvious progenitor would be way too simple.” And while I do agree with his sentiment, not making that connection between this homegrown jazzy / funky hip-hop live band and The Roots leaves out a big part of their story. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Northern Arms at Johnny Brenda’s, Halfro at The Fire, Deb Callahan Band at Steel City Coffeehouse

Northern Arms
Northern Arms | photo via facebook.com/thenorthernarms

Northern Arms join their friends in BUSSES at Johnny Brenda’s for the latter’s record release show tonight. The former is currently working on a follow-up to last year’s self-titled debut at Miner Street Recording. The local ten-piece have mastered the art of darkly cinematic songs, taking the best bits of Arcade Fire’s dramatism and pairing it with Angelo Badalementi’s suspense. Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ with Tinmouth can be found here. Watch “What You’ve Got On” below.

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Halfro releases Squalor, gets funky at album release show this Saturday

Photo by Dan Lidon
Halfro | Photo by Dan Lidon

To see Philly-based hip-hop quartet Halfro play live is to partake in one of the most fun and rare experiences a live show-lover can have: a young band with impeccable execution that gives its always-eclectic audience a raucous party while showing no sign of stagnation.  When the band drops their debut self-released EP Squalor at Saturday’s album release show at 3rd and Girard, audiences will get to hear that energy dropped straight into a lively, sometimes-existential-always-rollicking record that successfully captures a great deal of their live show’s immense power. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The A’s at Ardmore Music Hall, Winter Doldrums Music Festival at World Cafe Live, Jonathan Wilson at Underground Arts and more

The As_LP_inside_bandReunited Philly new wave-era rockers The A’s cross over county lines tonight to play a show tonight at Ardmore Music Hall. The five-piece force behind pop hits “A Woman’s Got The Power” and “After Last Night” staged a successful comeback last January at Underground Arts, where they reportedly played almost every single song in their catalog in a show they billed “Last Dance.” After a extremely positive fan response, The A’s decided to make the Last Dance a regular thing. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch a video from the Underground Arts show below.

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Halfro: The Next Generation of Live-Band Philly Hip-Hop

Halfro | Photo via www.facebook.com/HalfroMusic
Halfro | Photo via www.facebook.com/HalfroMusic

Comparing Halfro to its most obvious progenitor would be way too simple. A band with keys, bass, drums, and an emcee? Pulling out covers amidst originals with seamless transition? A groove-laden party at every show? And they’re from Philly?

As you might expect, the comparison is not lost on the young quartet, originally founded as Chocolate Milk (both names originating from their having two white and two black members). “The Roots have always been my favorite artist – I have the tattoo to prove it,” says Luke, the group’s bassist. “I heard them when I was a close-minded, pain-in-the-ass thirteen-year-old who only liked metal. Hearing how they could form hip-hop using live instruments blew my mind. That’s all I’ve wanted to do since,”

Fortunately for Luke and his bandmates, Halfro doesn’t need to do a lot of justifying. The raucous energy of their sets speaks for itself.

Humbly originating with high school jam sessions between keyboardist Andrew (aka Bach), drummer Justin, and singer/emcee Dave (aka Mutt), Halfro’s flight was more of a mile-relay than a sprint. “In high school, I had a little recording “studio” in my bedroom at my mom’s house in Harrisburg. My friends and I would sit up there ALL THE TIME and make funny raps and beats and all that,” says Andrew. “Dave and Justin were involved in all this stuff, and the three of us started taking it more seriously as time passed. When the three of us shipped off to Temple University, we met Luke and started forming the sound we have now.”

Those early days have translated into a constant grind to play shows, connect, and be seen. They have steadily worked towards bigger and bigger venues throughout the mid-Atlantic, and that momentum shows few signs of slowing down.

“When we first started, it was just the drunk people at house parties. Then, we were able to play better venues and we had some people come, but for the most part we played for the bartenders.” says Justin of the band’s early days.

“Since we’ve started playing shows, I believe that our audience has grown and we have developed genuine friendships from fans that consistently come out and show love. A lot of times people just go by the popularity or buzz of the artists they follow, and less about their actual craft or live show,” adds Dave.

Their sound is a fresh take on something familiar, but their influences run the gamut, making their way into this explosive foursome in idiosyncratic ways. Continue reading →

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Watch Halfro cover Jay-Z’s “Somewhere in America” (playing Voltage Lounge tomorrow)

Halfro | Photo via www.facebook.com/HalfroMusic
Halfro | Photo via www.facebook.com/HalfroMusic

Local indie hip-hop act Halfro have a sound that’s quite refreshing. They’re a full band that plays passionate, melodic music in a genre that rarely focuses on bands, but rather solo acts. Recently, they stripped down Jay-Z’s “Somewhere in America”, from this year’s Magna Carta Holy Grail, and gave it a poetry club type makeover. Halfro will open for Nappy Roots tomorrow night at Voltage Lounge. Get tickets here.