Celebrate 10 years of Johnny Brenda’s with Bardo Pond, Birds of Maya, Hurry, Frances Quinlan from Hop Along and more

Hop Along | Photo by John Vettese
Hop Along onstage at Johnny Brenda’s | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

There are definitely times when I love being wrong about things. Like the first time I went to Johnny Brenda’s: in fall of 2006, right after I first began as a volunteer with WXPN. It was a Silversun Pickups show, if you can believe that – Viva Voce opened. The Fishtown pub had recently re-invented itself as a 200-cap venue and, waiting for the show to start, I went to the bar to order a beer.

This was coming off of a half dozen years of living and breathing The Khyber, mind you, so I asked for a Yeungling. “We don’t have Yeungling,” the bartender sniffed. “Um, okay, PBR?” The bartender silently pointed to a chalkboard listing the all-local craft beer venue, which I simply could not wrap my brain around. No PBR? No Yeungling? I grabbed the cheapest thing (something called Kenzinger) and went back to my friends. “Dude, no Yeungling,” I said. “This place is gonna FAIL.”

Oh, young John, you had so much to learn.

Not only did JBs not fail – and thank the gods for that – it’s thrived for the past decade at the corner of Frankford and Girard, weathering rough years in the national music industry and seismic ripples in the local concertgoing landscape. It withstood the opening of the much-heralded and exactly-the-same-size’d Boot and Saddle; both clubs do their respective things in tandem with reliably strong calendars. It’s been dogged by the change in Fishtown and persists in the face of broverflow – though, seriously, if you’re grabbing food after 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, prepare yourself a very different world than it was at the start.

Most importantly, Johnny Brenda’s has been a welcoming home for the Philadelphia music community – the “made it” stage that upstart bands of all stripes aspire to, from Meg Baird to The Bul Bey to Abi Reimold and more. It’s the scene of secret celebrations for big hometown names like The War on Drugs and Kurt Vile; it’s held memorable New Years’ Eve throwdowns with A Sunny Day in Glasgow and Hop Along. And appropriately, to mark its 10 years on the Philly scene, it’s celebrating with two nights of all local music. Continue reading →


Listen to a new song from Mary Lattimore, “The Boy Who Swallowed A Coin”

Mary Lattimore
Mary Lattimore | Photo courtesy of the artist

Longtime Philadelphia harpist Mary Lattimore is having a most excellent 2016. Though she recently departed the city for a new home on the west coast, she left us with a great batch of new music; this summer, her collaboration with Jeff Zeigler, Music Inspired by Philippe Garrel’s Le Révélateur, received some serious critical acclaim. Earlier this year, Lattmore also released her sophomore LP At The Dam via Ghostly International. Most recently, though, is this week’s new song, “The Boy Who Swallowed A Coin.”

Beyond that evocative title – which sounds it should belong to a long-lost Bergman short or something – the song is a sublime, dreamlike soundscape of the sort Lattimore does so well, this time focusing her style into a three-and-a-half-minute nugget that also finds her voice acting as another instrument in the fray. Listen below, and see Lattimore live at Johnny Brenda’s on Tuesday, August 16th with Ahleuchatistas – tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Strange Torpedo: Lucy Dacus rockets through powerful Johnny Brenda’s set

Lucy Dacus| Photo By Noah Silvestry |
Lucy Dacus| Photo By Noah Silvestry |

She may not want to be funny anymore, but Lucy Dacus definitely has a sense of humor. Her return to Philly after a year may have seen the Richmond, Virginia rocker wearing no shoes, playing pick-less, and sporting jokes about the disco ball, but Dacus brought a night of both quiet simplicity and powerfully crushing rock and roll to Johnny Brenda’s on Tuesday night. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Double Decker Records anniversary fest, Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band at Johnny Brenda’s, Song Dogs at Boot & Saddle

Spill | Photo courtesy of the artist

Allentown record store Double Decker Records is celebrating its 20th year and Lehigh Valley label Square of Opposition is celebrating its 15th year, so why not throw a giant, weekend-long fest to celebrate? Things kick off this evening at St Bernard’s in Bethlehem with Kids, Spill, Pete and Nate (of Snowing, Algernon Cadwallader and Dogs on Acid), and continue on Saturday and Sunday with sets from Mischief Brew, Marge, Pissed Jeans, Plow United, Soul Glo, Thin Lips, a surprise return from Snowing and so much more. Information for the full fest can be found here, with tonight’s pre-fest info available here. Watch Spill’s “Big Boss” video below.

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The Album Leaf share “Between Waves” video, announce Johnny Brenda’s show

the album leaf
The Album Leaf | photo courtesy of the artist

California electronic soundscapers The Album Leaf are gearing up for their Relapse Records debut: Between Waves will be released on August 26th, six years after the band’s last effort. A tour will follow, with leader Jimmy LaValle and his new line-up bringing the LP to Johnny Brenda’s on September 15th.

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Get your first taste of My Son Bison’s debut LP with “Two Faces and a Vase”

My Son Bison
My Son Bison | photo courtesy of the artist

Philly psych-pop folksters My Son Bison have finally released the first sampling of their upcoming debut LP Two Faces and a Vase. For five long years they’ve been shaping their sound, and would’ve had this album ready for the masses much sooner if it weren’t for some horrible electronic misfortune. Last year the quintet lost the digital files for the new record and had to start back at square one.

But even disaster such as that can’t stop My Son Bison, as the strange circumstances of recreation helped the band in turn reinvent themselves. The record is entirely acoustic, from upright bass to prepared piano to harp and beyond. As heard on the title track of Two Faces and a Vase, the unplugged vibe brings a genuineness to a record that could have been understandably rushed. Continue reading →


Strong emotions felt during an intimate Rogue Wave concert at Johnny Brenda’s

rogue wave
Rogue Wave | photo by Matthew Shaver |

“There but for the grace of God…” Words that could potentially apply to a wide variety of situations, but quite often in music it is the luck of the draw that splits who makes it big time and who never makes it at all. That was the old days at least, these days there is a solid middle ground, a place where working musicians can thrive, make a living, and build a passionate, rabidly loyal fanbase, even if it’s just a stroke of luck that kept them from selling out theaters. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hurry at Everybody Hits, Vita and the Woolf at Arden Gild Hall, Cate Le Bon at Johnny Brenda’s and more…

Hurry | Photo by Craig Scheihing | courtesy of the artist
Hurry | Photo by Craig Scheihing | courtesy of the artist

Indie pop favorites Hurry celebrate the release of Guided Meditation at Everybody Hits tonight. We premiered the album last week, calling it “polished, pristine and endlessly catchy.” Frontman Matt Scottoline drew on 90s Britpop influences for the songs, one of which you can hear below. More information for the all-ages show can be found here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Joseph at Tin Angel, Killiam Shakespeare at Johnny Brenda’s, Matthew Logan Vazquez at Boot & Saddle

Joseph | photo courtesy of the artist

Oregon sister trio Joseph play the Tin Angel tonight. Family heritage runs deep in the band’s indentity; they borrow the name Joseph from their Grandfather, as well as from a town in their native state where they spent time camping as kids. The group’s debut album will be out this year on ATO; get a taste of their jaw-dropping harmonies in the video for “Honest” below and pick up tickets for tonight’s show here. Continue reading →