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Firefly Day Two Roundup: Jim James, Edward Sharpe, Chvrches and more

Jim James | Photo by John Vettese
Jim James | Photo by John Vettese
Wow, we saw so many bands at day two of Firefly Music Festival! To keep this recap from getting too unwieldy (since there’s a whole other day of the festival to get to), we’ll keep our thoughts to one or two sentences per artist.

Japandroids: two-piece garage punk is dicey in a festival setting, and the sound was muffled and muddy, but “The House that Heaven Built” ruled. Hi fives to all crowd surfers as they exited the pit.

Seattle’s string-laden Hey Marseilles was lush, pretty, but kind of boring. The handclap / crowd-participatory “Rio” saved their set.

Jim JamesRegions of Light was transcendent in the close quarters of Johnny Brenda’s and Union Transfer; it lost a bit of its cosmic potency in open air. But James is still a tremendous performer, showman, dancer and must have been roasting in that suit with the afternoon heat.

Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar was an energizing stage presence and had the crowd hanging on his every rhyme. Scotland dance pop trio Chvrches was also charismatic and fun (see them at Union Transfer tonight) while Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros got us excited for our own festival.

Next: a double shot of dynamic front women. Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs has always rocked the stage with an unbelievable energy, whether it was the Church basement for 300 people or this festival for 10,000 people; “Zero” was unreal, the inflatable eyeball bouncing around the crowd was a nice touch. And New York rapper Azealia Banks, backed by a DJ and two dancers, gave a spitfire performance of songs from her 1991 EP, her Fantasy mixtape and the (eventually) forthcoming Broke With Expensive Taste.

Finally, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers headlined the day with an uneven but well-received performance. The singalong hits and moments where the Heartbreakers stayed focused a la “Love is a Long Road” were outstanding, but when the band lapsed into drivelly jams, not so much. Still, there’s no feeling like singing “Free Fallin’” at the top of your lungs with a field of people. Photos after the jump. Continue reading →

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The Babies and Swearin’ bring garage-pop to Kung-Fu Necktie on Saturday 12/22

The Brooklyn garage/punk outfits, The Babies and Swearin’, will be playing at Fishtown’s Kung Fu Necktie tomorrow. The Babies, the side project of Vivian Girls and Woods, have been steadily gaining popularity since their 2011 self-titled album. The band also recently released their second album Our House on the Hill in mid-November. That album can be purchased through Woodsist Records here. Swearin’, who recently wrapped up a tour with Japandroids, released a new, self-titled LP over this past summer that can be found here. For more information on the event click here. Below is the video for the Babies’ new track “Baby.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Japandroids at Union Transfer, Maxi Priest at The Keswick Theatre, The Best of Joey Sweeney at Johnny Brenda’s, Work Drugs with Shark Tape at Ortlieb’s, XPN Welcomes Ra Ra Riot at The Chameleon Club

Vancouver, BC duo Japandroids shook the walls at their midsummer Johnny Brenda’s show and tonight they’ll shake the walls of Union Transfer.  Japandroids are touring in support of an album many consider to be one of the year’s best (here, here and here).  The punk rockers released Celebration Rock earlier this year and were subsequently named Band of the Year by Spin, with their song “The House That Heaven Built” being named Song of the Summer by Paste.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show with DIIV can be found here.  Below, watch the video for “The House That Heaven Built.”

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Five new R5 Productions shows coming soon to a venue near you

Even though the summer will soon come to an end, don’t feel down – R5 Productions just announced five brand new shows for this upcoming fall season. And let me tell you, folks, they’re going to be chock full of cozy musical performances.

First up will be OFF! on October 19th at First Unitarian Church. The super troupe of punk rockers is made up of members of Black Flag, Burning Brides and Hot Snakes. Opening bands include The Spits and Double Negative. Gear up your vocal chords and get stoked for one raging performance.

BOO! A super ghouly and ghostly show will be happening on Halloween (Oct. 31st) featuring The Dead Milkmen, MC Lars and Philadelphia’s own Psychic Teens. The show will be happening at Union Transfer; trick-or-treaters are welcome! Psychic Teens filmed Bands in the Backyard episode recently, watch it below.


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Japandroids at Johnny Brenda’s: Review and Photo Recap

“Who knew only two guys could make so much noise?” said one concert goer at the Japandroids show at Johnny Brenda’s this past Friday night. A two man band is extremely possible to get a crowd moving, however Japandroids – consisting of Canadian rock duo, Brian King and David Prowse – wasted no time in rocking the sold-out Johnny Brenda’s. Japandroids have two self-released EP’s, and two full length albums out. Last month they released Celebration Rock, a truly celebratory rock record.

The energy at the Fishtown venue was palpable even before anyone stepped onto the stage. On one of the hottest days of the summer and a sold-out performance, this was bound to be a sweaty show. At just around 9:20 PM, Brian King announced the opening rapper, Cadence Weapon, also from Canada, who tore up the stage and brought a spark of energy to the already hyped crowd. The crafty rapper also did two songs over other artist’s instrumentals; one included “88″, produced by Grimes, and another entitled “Loft Party” with instrumentals by Philadelphia’s own Meek Mill. Cadence Weapon’s latest release is Hope in Dirt City, and you can check out the song “Loft Party” from the show below.

Japandroids came on stage quickly after Cadence Weapon’s excellent performance. The duo is known for their blending of punk and garage rock and recalls Nineties’ rock bands like New Found Glory and Sugarcult with a modern twist. It’s a rarity to hear true rock ‘n roll in this day and age, with the simplicity of just vocals, a guitar, and a drum set. Brian King’s powerful voice gave a burst of energy, rejuvenating the crowd with wild ballads and heavy power chords; while David Prowse’s drumming created a juxtaposition of steadily out of control rhythms.

Opening with “Boys Are Leaving Town” from Post-Nothing, then dove into an extended version of  “Adrenaline Nightshift” followed by “The Nights of Wine and Roses” which King openly admitted to stealing the title from the band The Dream Syndicate; one of two bands that influenced him while writing the album over the course of a year.

Right before the the duo played my personal favorite, the somewhat slower “Continuous Thunder,” I sought some respite in the balcony. The song has a catchy hook and lyrics that leave an impression on you; “If I had all the answers/And you had the body you wanted/Would we love with legendary fire?” Next, they played “Fire’s Highway,” and the crowd was getting so into the show that they were pounding their fists in the air as well as on the stage, and wildly moshing about. This was one of the craziest and fun shows I’ve been to at Johnny Brenda’s.

In addition to being influenced by The Dream Syndicate while working on Celebration Rock, Japandroids were also influenced by Philadelphia natives, The War on Drugs, for whom Japandroids dedicated the last song of their set, “For the Love of Ivy.”  It was truly incredible to get such a crazy, intense show out of just vocals and two instruments; Japandroids just proved that rock ‘n roll is far from being dead.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Iron Maiden, Japandroids, Jeffrey Gaines, Umphrey’s McGee/G Love, and Vintage Kicks

Tonight, two legendary acts come together for one performance; Iron Maiden is playing with Alice Cooper at the Susquehanna Bank Center. Expect lots of head banging and moshing at this performance. You can purchase tickets here.

Also playing tonight:

R5 Productions presents Japandroids, who recently released their sophomore album Celebration Rockplay at Johnny Brenda’s with rapper Cadence Weapon opening. The 21+ show begins at 9 PM, this show is SOLD OUT!

Jeffrey Gaines CD Release Party at the Tin Angel. Gaines will be celebrating his recent album Live in Europe, from his 2010 tour with Joe Jackson. Tickets to the 21+ show are $22, the show begins at 10 PM.

Umphrey’s McGee plays with G. Love for a special outdoors performance at the Electric Factory at 8 PM. You can purchase tickets to the all ages show here.

Vintage Kicks play Upstairs at World Cafe Live. We just did a Key Studio session with them that you can check out here. Show at 8 PM; tickets are $7 plus processing fees.

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Listen to two new songs by Japandroids (playing Johnny Brenda’s in June)

Japandroids are releasing a new album called Celebration Rock on Polyvinyl Records on June 5th. The Vancouver BC duo of Brian King and David Prowse plays Johnny Brenda’s on Friday, June 29th. Below, listen to “The House That Heaven Built” from their forthcoming album, and a cover of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ “Jack The Ripper,” the B-side to the 7-inch single of “The House That Heaven Built.”

Japandroids – Jack the Ripper by Polyvinyl Records

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