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A kinetic blitzkreig from King Tuff, Jacuzzi Boys and Wavves at the First Unitarian Church

King Tuff | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com King Tuff | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com

Wednesday night the basement of First Unitarian transformed into a pit of sweat, punks, and straight-up killer rock. The heat was on from the first fuzzed-out notes of Jacuzzi Boys‘ set through the roiling energy of King Tuff, peaking searingly with WAVVES‘ kinetic blitz. As the mercury rose, kids started thrashing and diving off the stage like atoms following the gas laws. And for some reason there was a merch guy dresses as a Telletubby. Thank the Great Spirit for that.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Angel Olsen at Johnny Brenda’s, Nat Baldwin at the First Unitarian Chapel, King Tuff at the First Unitarian Church

Angel Olsen
Photo by Abi Reimold

Singer / songwriter Angel Olsen plays on all manner of moods and emotions in her music, and she’s an intense live performer to boot. Tonight the Chicago-based musician returns to Philadelphia for her biggest headlining show to date, following a Folkadelphia presents appearance at Studio 34 last fall and an opening slot for Kurt Vile at Union Transfer in May. Her music is infused with a jazz, country and Americana heritage – think Patsy Cline and Nina Simone – and though she often gets perceived as an uber-serious person, she has a playful side too, as we saw in this interview with Elliott Sharp back in the spring. Her album Half Way Home is coming up on a year old, so perhaps we’ll hear some new material at tonight’s 21+ show at Johnny Brenda’s. Tickets an information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, get a free download of Olsen’s Folkadelphia session from last fall.

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Exploring the animated side of garage-psych royalty King Tuff (playing the First Unitarian Church tomorrow with WAVVES and Jacuzzi Boys)

TuffThere’s something cartoonish about King Tuff. Most of his album art portrays hand-scratched drawings of large-nosed longhairs and magic bats. In his music videos, a paint stick follows him around to shimmer the scene neon every once in awhile. His band could also emanate this kiddishness, with make-believe aliases like Magic Jake (his bassist), and Captain Cox (his engineer). But there’s something about his sound, too, that illustrates him. It’s this rabbit-from-a-hat sonic madness of hard drum patterns and fuzzed-out electric guitars. It’s also his voice, which until you see him live doesn’t quite make sense — like a hoarse Alvin the Chipmunk might sound when you slow down the recording just enough so that it could be considered human.

This year, his 2008 record, Was Dead, was reissued and released on Burger Records — for which anyone with footing in the sounds of all of those fuzzed-out garbage pail kids coming in from the West Coast (Ty Segall, No Bunny, WAVVES, the Memories, et al.) should be eternally grateful. It is a record filled with a series of hooks strung together in one cleverly-crafted album. There’s nothing to skip, it’s all here re-packaged in a vibrant blue sleeve with the hot pink scribble-scrabbled face of King Tuff himself.

“I recorded Was Dead with my friend in a giant ballroom, this was was in Vermont,” Kyle “King Tuff” Thomas explains over the phone last month. The longtime guitarist and songwriter moved from Vermont to Los Angeles a little over two years ago and jokes “I haven’t done shit since I got to LA… just frying my mind in the rays.”

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Kate Bracaglia’s Top 5 Music Videos of 2012

For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Contributing writer Kate Bracaglia opted to weigh in on the visualized music we saw in 2012.

Music videos: they’re so much fun, and sometimes they contain biting social commentary too. This year there were so many amazing vids that making this list was hard—and so quick shout-outs to Passion Pit, “Take a Walk” (filmed in Philly!), Jaill, “Perfect Ten” (colored slime, GG Allin antics), Hot Panda, “Future Markets” (weird masks/futurism), Nicky Romero, “Toulouse” (MORE weird masks, creepy dancing), and The Very Best, “Kondaine” (men visit Kenyan medicine man, get turned into goats), which were so close to making the cut. But in the end there can only be five. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Divine Fits at Union Transfer, Franz Nicolay and Erik Petersen of Mischief Brew at First Unitarian, King Tuff and Poor Moon at Johnny Brenda’s

Divine Fits are playing tonight at Union Transfer in support of their debut album, A Thing Called Divine Fits, which was released in August. An indie supergroup of sorts, Divine FIts is spearheaded by Spoon‘s Britt Daniel, New Bomb Turks’ Sam Brow, and Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Handsome Furs. Tickets for the all-ages show are available here. Below, check out the video for “Would That Not Be Nice.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Philly tribute to Levon Helm at World Cafe Live and Battles with Work Drugs & Grimace Federation

Tonight at World Cafe Live Philadelphia, Ron and Marley Present: A Commemorative Tribute to Levon Helm. A legend and an inspiration to many, Helm is best remembered as the drummer and vocalist for the incomparable rock group, The Band. He was also an actor, a soloist, and a multi-instrumentalist. His southern roots music comes from his upbringing in Arkansas where he was introduced to rock ‘n roll after seeing performances by Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. Helm’s bluesy and country influenced rock music has won him Grammy’s for three of his albums including Electric Dirt, Dirt Farmer, and Ramble at the Ryman. In 2008 he was recognized in Rolling Stone Magazine as one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All time and the same year was given “Artist of the Year” by the American Music Association.

At tonight’s 8 PM show, local bands pay tribute to him with performances from various Philadelphia country rock bands such as Toy Soldiers, The Lawsuits, Up the Chain, and many more… A portion of the proceeds will go to The Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, NY. (Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door, all ages)

Also playing tonight is Battles with Work Drugs at the TLA (7 PM, $15, all ages). Below, watch the video for “My Machines” with Battles featuring Gary Numan.