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20 Philadelphia concerts you should go to if you ever invent a time machine

Led Zeppelin onstage at The Spectrum in 1970 | Photo via ledzeppelin.com
Led Zeppelin onstage at The Spectrum in 1970 | Photo via ledzeppelin.com

Every music fan has their own personal list of all-time favorite concerts. But imagine if you were old enough to experience a legendary rock and roll act like Chuck Berry in his prime, while in the same breath catching emerging bands like The Black Keys and Nirvana before they got huge. It’s pretty likely you never got to do either of these things. But there is one hypothetically feasible way to make it happen: invent a time machine. So let’s pretend for a minute this doable – here’s what I’d go back in time to see.

1. Led Zeppelin – March 31, 1970 at The Spectrum

The earlier you saw Led Zeppelin the better. Towards the middle of the 70s, Jimmy Page’s heroin addiction affected his onstage presence, and Robert Plant’s voice became noticeably strained. There’s a phenomenal video, which you can find on YouTube, of Led Zeppelin playing at the Royal Albert Hall in London from the same year, which features my personal favorite versions of “Communication Breakdown,” “Bring It On Home,” “I Can’t Quit You Baby,” and “How Many More Times.” The grainy video (which also features Page doing the seemingly impossible: making a sweater vest look cool) isn’t all that clear, but the sound is great and that’s really all that matters. It’s likely you would’ve gotten the same mind blowing performance in Philly (check out this vintage review by longtime Philly journo Clark De Leon).

2. The Strokes – October 9, 2003 at Tower Theater

Julian Casablancas’ voice in the early 00s was a thing of beauty. He had the perfect Jim Morrison-esque rock and roll growl, and is probably one of the most overlooked singers in rock history during his prime. Although, I’m a huge fan of The Strokes’s later stuff as well, there’s no denying their first two albums were two of the best rock albums in the early aughties – a time that was otherwise riddled with awful rock bands like Nickelback and Breaking Benjamin.

3. Oasis – October 23, 1994 at J.C. Dobbs

This was the first time Oasis ever played in Philly and also their first ever American tour. Around this time, tensions between Noel and Liam Gallagher had yet to reach the point of totally hating each other’s guts. Also, due to a randomly placed wall on J.C. Dobbs’ stage, this show was rumored to be the only time Noel played on the left side of the stage.

4. The Who – October 19, 1969 at The Electric Factory
The Who actually played two shows at the Electric Factory on this day (bands did that back then, apparently). Anybody who’s ever seen Who videos from the late 60s knows that the band was a powerhouse back in this time period — especially with the late Keith Moon on drums. Also, this probably isn’t the Electric Factory you’re familiar with. The original one was at 22nd and Arch and closed down in 1973. The current one at 7th and Willow opened in 1994. Listen to audio from the show here.

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The Clash at The Tower in September, 1980 | Photo by Todd Heft |

5. The Clash – March 6, 1980 at Tower Theater

The year 1980 was a good one to see The Clash live. You would have heard songs from all their best albums including Give ‘Em Enough Rope, London Calling and their self-titled debut. Also, you’d get to see their iconic lineup. By 1983, drummer Topper Headon and guitarist Mick Jones would eventually be kicked out of the band.

 

6. The Black Keys – February 5, 2009 at Electric Factory

There were at least two or three times I almost saw the Black Keys before they got huge. For whatever reason, I couldn’t go to the concerts, but I always knew they’d be back in Philly again so I never let it bother me much. That is, until they released Brothers and the band made it big time. Continue reading →

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Two Sides of Confusion: Consequence of Sound contrasts Led Zeppelin and Kurt Vile

Photo by Abi Reimold
Photo by Abi Reimold

Would you think of Philly singer-songwriter Kurt Vile and classic rock icons Led Zeppelin in the same breath? In their weekly Two for Tuesday feature, Consequence of Sound compared and contrasted both artists’ music, noting that they consider the chaos and confusion of life, especially on tracks like Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” and Vile’s “Wakin on A Pretty Daze.”

The CoS piece points out that Zeppelin, inspired by folk singer-songwriter Jake Holmes’ “Dazed and Confused,” grapples with the dark underside of chaos in their version of “Dazed and Confused”. The song descends to an agonizing place of misery through the progression of the song. Robert Plant, lead singer, confesses to feeling constantly hurt by women, leading him to conclude that “the soul of a woman was created below.”

While Zeppelin seems to be overwhelmed by the cacophony, Vile embraces it.  In the gorgeous ”Walkin’ On a Pretty Daze”, Vile describes the positives of being aloof. He admits that his brain is fried, but that he doesn’t mind.

Sometimes, it’s the perfect excuse to disconnect and regroup, like Kurt Vile does as he enjoys a bucolic morning by “livin’ low, lackadaisically so.”

 

Listen to the two tracks below.