The jazz offerings in the city this month offer the opportunity to explore the music from a number of different perspectives. For a historical one, the ICA is hosting The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now through next March. The exhibition, which opened last year at the MCA in Chicago, tells the story of the influential Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and its intersections with the visual art and culture of the era. It’s a must-see, and also features a number of performances to coincide with the show. But aside from that, this month’s standout concerts provide a number of different angles.
One of the first major Philly gigs The Districts played was the stage of Johnny Brenda’s back in fall of 2014, opening for The Lawsuits’ Cool Cool Cool album release party. Now that they’re heading into a new year, hopefully with a new record on the horizon along with some of their biggest shows to date, it seems fitting that the Philadelphia by way of central PA rockers return to the JBs stage for a string of intimate shows on Thanksgiving weekend. Continue reading →
Tonight, the lo-fi Indie rockers of LVL Up will be playing at the PhilaMOCA. The four-piece outfit just released their third full length LP, Return to Love, on Sub Pop Records; read our interview with the Brooklyn band here, and let them personally guide you through their new album tonight at PhilaMOCA. For more information about the show check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch the video for “The Closing Door” off their new album below. Continue reading →
Soul / funk / rock artist and Philadelphia native Bilal headlines a show at Johnny Brenda’s in Fishtown tonight. In the past, he has worked with big names like Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar, and Kimbra just to name a few. His last solo release was In Another Life, released last year. Opening up for Bilal will be the fellow Philadelphian Ursula Rucker. She is a poet, activist, and recording artist who has been performing for over seventeen years. This show featuring some of Philly’s finest is not to be missed. Tickets and more information about the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Check out the video for “Money Over Love” below. Continue reading →
Julien Baker makes a return visit to Philadelphia for a show at Underground Arts tonight. The Memphis native brought her acclaimed Sprained Ankle debut to town earlier this year, wowing the audience with her gut wrenching but graceful songs about personal challenges and growth. Stream “Something” below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show with Grayling here.
The time has come for The End of America to celebrate the release of their new LP at Johnny Brenda’s. We premiered the self-titled record last week, getting an early listen to the trio’s songs about hope and challenges written after some difficult experiences. Check out “Russian Fortune” below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show here.
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 menu, 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 →
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 →
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 →