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Seize a rare opportunity to experience African Rumba music live at Johnny Brenda’s on Jan. 6th

photo via afrisa.international

It’s rare for Orchestra Afrisa International and M’Bilia Bel to venture to this neck of the woods. In fact, it’s Bel’s first time performing in Philadelphia and her last U.S. performance was in 1990. Mosey on over to Fishtown on the 6th of January, though, and you’ll be treated to a night of soukouss music — also known as African Rumba — from the very people who pioneered the genre. Continue reading →

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New Year’s Eve is a month away. What concert are you going to?

Kurt Vile at #XPNFest | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN

We’re drawing to the close of 2016, and as always, we here at The Key recommend you give 2016 the boot with live music. Spending that special moment that brings us into our annual chance for a new start at a concert with hundreds or even thousands of people who are all on the same page as you — for those few hours, the feeling is exhilarating and even a little magical. Compare this to the cycle of looking at your phone, standing in circles trying to connect with people that you know primarily through Facebook and most times drinking way too much in your quest to achieve that perfect New Year’s Eve moment that movies like When Harry Met Sally have elevated just out of reality’s reach.

Given, I’ve been going the latter route for the majority of my adult life and some of my fondest memories are searching for lost phones or helping my friend figure out the name of the cute guy with the green hat the morning after. BUT I knew that after happening upon a house show on New Year’s Eve a few years back, no party could ever fill me with the same ecstasy as the music and all the people in that basement did in 2013. So, if you’re looking to try something new, check out your Philly-area options for musical New Year’s celebrations. Continue reading →

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The Dudes Abide: The Districts shine at Johnny Brenda’s residency

The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Well, well, well. If the gosh darn boys aren’t back in town. After what felt like almost whole year, our hometown heroes The Districts returned to a Philadelphia stage for three proper headlining shows at Johnny Brenda’s. And while 2016 wasn’t necessarily a quiet year for them — touring with both Modest Mouse and Dr. Dog is nothing to sneeze at — it definitely felt like a bit of a building year for a band that otherwise seems to have unlimited amounts of energy. It makes sense, with hints of LP3 trickling out at shows, and word coming that the band spent almost a month in LA over the summer, demoing and recording new material. But as summer faded, and the memories of The Districts’ slamming XPNFest set weren’t keeping my heart as warm as they once had, this three-night stand at JB’s came just in the nick of time. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: DIIV at Underground Arts, Spelling Reform at Johnny Brenda’s, Joseph Arthur at Tin Angel

DIIV | Photo by Chiaro Tiso | courtesy of the artist
DIIV | Photo by Chiaro Tiso | courtesy of the artist

Brooklyn outfit DIIV have spent 2016 making a resurgence after releasing their sophomore effort Is The Is Are in February, their first album since 2012’s debut. They’ll bring the shoegazy rock songs to Underground Arts tonight for a show with Moon King. Watch “Mire (Grant’s Song)” below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: New Sound Brass at Johnny Brenda’s, Harmony Woods at Milkboy, Atmosphere at TLA and more

New Sound Brass | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN
New Sound Brass | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

Johnny Brenda’s is getting a taste of Bourbon Street tonight with headliners New Sound Brass. Expect ample doses of funk and soul with a touch of rock if they happen to perform one of their renowned covers of tracks by powerhouses like Black Sabbath and Bon Jovi to name a few. The Key was able to get up close and personal with these Philly musicians at a studio session at the end of September. Country/rock outfit Jim Mitchell and the Repeat Offenders are also scheduled to play tonight at Johnny Brenda’s. Check out the WXPN Concert Calendar for more information on this 21+ show, and listen to the audio from their session at The Key below. Continue reading →

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Hardwork Movement brings an amazing year of shows and new music to a close with their new EP Draft Night

Hardwork Movement
Hardwork Movement | Photo by Zack Garlitos | courtesy of the artist

It has been a year of continuous wins for our favorite nine-piece Philly hip-hop group, Hardwork Movement. (Not to be confused with our favorite eight-piece Philly hip-hop group.)

Since the January 2016 release of their debut LP, Good Problems, the fiercely Philly collective has been gaining momentum in the city that they are so proud to call home. Tonight, Hardwork Movement keeps the ball rolling with their show at Johnny Brenda’s, in conjunction with this milestone comes the release of their EP Draft Night. This five-track mixtape features everything we love about Hardwork Movement’s music: confident and energetic verses, jazzy instrumental arrangements and content that perfectly coincides with their mantra “for the people.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hardwork Movement at Johnny Brenda’s, Sorority Noise at First Unitarian Church, Daughter at The Electric Factory and more

Hardwork Movement
Hardwork Movement | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philadelphia hip-hop collective Hardwork Movement is playing a record release show at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The group’s music boasts intricate jazz-tinged instrumental arrangements and a fierce pride of their deep roots in The City of Brotherly Love. 2016 was a fantastic year for the nine-member group: earlier this year they released their debut LP Good Problems, and a few months later they signed to Chill Moody’s #nicethingsMUSIC imprint. Come help Hardwork Movement celebrate and get a taste of their mixtape Draft Night at their last show of 2016 in Fishtown. Brooklyn-bred Tacuma Bradley’s Unity Band and Philadelphia singer-songwriter Julia Rainer are also on tonight’s bill. Check out the WXPN Concert Calendar for more information on this 21+ show, and check out Hardwork Movement’s performance of “City Bars” during a session with Philadelphia-collective Out of Town Films. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Flock of Dimes at Johnny Brenda’s, Lera Lynn at World Cafe Live, Frankie Cosmos at the First Unitarian Church and more

Flock of Dimes | Photo by Paley Fairman, courtesy of the artist
Flock of Dimes | Photo by Paley Fairman, courtesy of the artist

Baltimore’s Jenn Wasner is best known as one half of experimental indie pop duo Wye Oak, but this year she branched out on her own with the new solo project Flock of Dimes. Imbued with gauzey synthesizer tones and glorious vocal melodies, the project is not terribly far off from where she left things on Wye Oak’s most recent output — it just maximizes the pop leanings to their full potential. Watch the video for “Semaphore” below and get tickets and more information on Flock Of Dime’s show at Johnny Brenda’s tonight at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sun Ra Arkestra at Johnny Brenda’s, Foals at Electric Factory, Frank Turner at World Cafe Live at The Queen

Sun Ra Arkestra
Sun Ra Arkestra at Johnny Brendas | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

For the second year in a row, the Sun Ra Arkestra will celebrate Halloween at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. Under the leadership of multi-instrumentalist Marshall Allen, the spirit of enigmatic founder Sun Ra lives on through the Arkestra’s galactic funk and soul performance. Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here; watch the band’s Tiny Desk Concert below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Superweaks at Kung Fu Necktie, Purling Hiss at Johnny Brenda’s and The B-52s at The Fillmore

The Superweaks | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist
The Superweaks | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist

Join The Superweaks tonight at Kung Fu Necktie for their album release show.  The LP, Better Heavens, is a dedication to their late bassist Corey Bernard and is slated to drop on November 4th via Lame-O Records. Fellow Philly-based bands Thin Lips, Sun Organ and Three Man Cannon will be joining them. For more information on this all ages show check out the WXPN Concert Calendar. You can watch the video for “I’ll See Myself out,” a track off Better Heavens by the Superweaks. Continue reading →