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Load-In to Load-Out: The Districts pack it in for a celebratory Electric Factory gig

Photo by John Vettese
The Districts’ guitar cases line the Electric Factory stage | Photo by John Vettese

It’s a special occasion the first time a Philly artist headlines the cavernous Callowhill venue The Electric Factory. We’ve seen it with Dr. Dog, we’ve seen it with The Wonder Years.

When you step out on that stage, and you know in your head that it’s the same room you crowded into so you could watch your favorite bands as a teenage kid – maybe you took the subway downtown from your neighborhood, perhaps you drove in from the surrounding burbs and grabbed sketchy street parking, nervously hoping that your car would be there when you return, or you waited on Spring Garden Street for your parents to pick you up at the end of the night. It’s that place, only now you’ve got this view you never had before, not of the stage but from it, looking out at an enormous room. And it’s packed. And it occurs to you that these people are there to see you…

I’ve heard it described as humbling. I’ve heard it described as exhilarating. You can call it some serious circle of life stuff. And it’s something that Philadelphia by-way-of Lititz rockers The Districts experienced back in November as they wrapped a year of heavy international touring in support of their acclaimed debut LP A Flourish and a Spoil with their biggest headlining hometown show, and one of their biggest shows ever.    Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out: Babes in Toyland emerge triumphant at Underground Arts

Babes in Toyland | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Babes in Toyland | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

A world without the music of Babes in Toyland is a world lacking the angst and catharsis conveyed as only they can. Originally made up of Minneapolis guitarist-vocalist Kat Bjelland and drummer Lori Barbero, along with bassists Michelle Leon and Maureen Herman (who replaced Leon in 1992), the band re-emerged this year after disbanding in 2001.

When they finally played Philly’s Underground Arts on October 22 it had been 20 years since Babes in Toyland last set foot in the city. New and old fans alike showed they still wanted the band’s punk rage. And boy, did the band deliver. Rounded out by new bassist Clara Salyer, they pummeled Philadelphia with a brilliant set. Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out: Cruisr goes hard on their home turf at the TLA

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

“Hey, you look like cool guys,” says the young lady walking past the TLA. “Know where we can get some awesome pulled pork sandwiches?”

Andy States shoots a glance over at Kyle Cook, who grins and shrugs his shoulders. Both are teetering on the verge of hysterical laughter. It’s not like the two guys play in Philly modern rock juggernaut Cruisr or anything; it’s not like they’re unpacking gear from their van to headline their biggest hometown show to date on this breezy September afternoon. Staying true to their nicest-dudes-ever rep, the guys suggest Percy Street BBQ a few blocks away; the culinary tourists are on their way, and Cruisr gets back to work.

For States and his mates, the road to this point has been both steady and sudden. Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out: A night on the job with Red Fang at The Troc

Getting the stage lights set for Red Fang | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com/
Getting the stage lights set for Red Fang | Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

It was once known as The Arch Street Opera House. Over the past century and a half, it’s been called a lot of things (according to its Wikipedia page, anyhow) including: Park Theatre, Gaiety Theatre, Slocum’s and Sweatman’s Theatre (a personal favorite), and Sweatman’s Arch Street Opera House. Most recently it goes by the name The Trocadero Theater, or it’s more colloquial name, The Troc.

Fast forward 144 years past the recorded birth date, and I find myself trying to prove to a group of diligent, extremely friendly employees that I belong in this prestigious venue a few hours before doors open. A well-established home for movies, comedy, pop and – moreso, I think, than any other venue in Philadelphia – hard fucking rock. Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out: The Menzingers’ Rented World tour takes on Union Transfer

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The Menzingers at Union Transfer | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

Most people think of a concert as those four or so hours you spend standing in crowd, singing along with your favorite band. But have you ever thought about what goes into making that happen? We followed The MenzingersRented World tour for a day as four bands converged on Philly’s Union Transfer to put on a show. The headliners were brought up in the Scranton DIY scene before relocating to Philadelphia – releasing several amazing albums along the way – and this stop on the tour was their biggest headlining show to date in their adopted hometown. Their fourth full-length, Rented World, was released this spring on Epitaph Records, and it’s gotten the band some of its highest-profile attention outside of the punk world – including an enthusiastic review in the New York Times. Even so, the band stayed true to its roots for the tour, bringing along Philly friends Cayetana, up-and-coming Toronto punk four-piece PUP and Buffalo indiepop trio Lemuria. Take a look at how the gang spent their Saturday in pictures. [continue]