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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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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Slingshot Dakota at Musikfest Cafe, Yoni & Geti at PhilaMOCA, John Doe at World Cafe Live

Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com
Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com

Indie rock duo Slingshot Dakota returns home to the Lehigh Valley tonight after a long tour in support of their latest LP, Break. The record dropped this spring on Topshelf, and it continues Carly Commando and Tom Patterson’s high-energy, honest and engaging songwriting, hitting on topics like marriage, struggling to scrape by and the enduring power of friendship. They headline Musikfest Cafe tonight; tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Listen to “Paycheck” below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sheer Mag at PhilaMOCA, Kamasi Washington at Musikfest Cafe, Emmett Drueding at Kung Fu Necktie, and more…

Sheer Mag | Photo by John Vettese
Sheer Mag | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philly punk powerhouses Sheer Mag just released their kickass EP III last month, and they will be performing tonight at PhilaMOCA for the Philadelphia Student Union Fundraiser. Also playing will be Bad Canoes and Dark Thoughts. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Tin Bird Choir at Burlap and Bean, Planes Mistaken for Stars at Boot & Saddle, Kishi Bashi at Musikfest Cafe

Tin Bird Choir | Photo courtesy of artist's Facebook
Tin Bird Choir | Photo courtesy of artist’s Facebook

Barn rock band Tin Bird Choir headline Burlap and Bean Coffee this evening. Though their latest album was released in the summer of 2013, they recently covered the Rolling Stone’s “Sway” and have promised an enticing setlist. Tin Bird Choir will be joined by Elspeth Tremblay & the Satellites and Ginger Coyle for a night of Philly area folk. For tickets to the Philadelphia Folk Society and Dull Dime-presented show, head over to the XPN Concert Calendar, and be sure to listen to their cover of “Sway” below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dan Kassel at World Cafe Live, Delicate Steve at Tellus 360, and Fishtank Ensemble at Musikfest Cafe

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

Renowned local cellist Dan Kassel will bring his virtuosic musicianship to the World Cafe Live stage tonight. Kassel released his new album Tribes Forgotten in February which he says “is meant to take the listener to great heights and over vast expanse.” He certainly does capture atmospheric unity and tensions throughout the record all centered around his somber cello. Listen to “Ascension” below and get tickets here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Lee Ranaldo and the Dust at Boot & Saddle, Kevin Devine at Musikfest Cafe, Dirty Dozen Brass Band at World Cafe Live and more

Lee Ranaldo and the Dust | photo via www.facebook.com/leeranaldoandthedust
Lee Ranaldo and the Dust | photo via www.facebook.com/leeranaldoandthedust

Lee Ranaldo and the Dust headline Boot & Saddle tonight.  The founding member Sonic Youth has created an impressive solo career over the last couple of decades, most recently releasing Between the Times and the Tides in 2012 (ahead of an XPoNential Music Festival appearance) and Last Night on Earth in 2013.  In-between, Ranaldo has performed the works of John Cage in intriguing and experimental ways (check out an interview about it here).  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with Steve Gunn can be found here.  Watch Ranaldo and his band perform “Lecce, Leaving” on Conan below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: MGMT at the Electric Factory, Alice Smith at World Cafe Live, XPN Welcomes Declan O’Rourke at Tellus360 and more

Photo by Danny Clinch
Photo by Danny Clinch

Alt-rock stars MGMT will play the Electric Factory tonight in support of their self-titled album, which was released in September. The band blasted onto the world’s radar a few years back with hit singles “Time to Pretend”, “Electric Feel”, and “Kids”. Since then, their sound has transformed and become more low-key but is still very MGMT. Watch them calmly convince you that “Your Life is A Lie” below and get tickets here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Glenn Tilbrook at World Cafe Live, Funky Blues Finale w/ James Cotton and David Dye at TLA, mewithoutYou at Musikfest Cafe

Squeeze80s British power pop sensation (and former Squeeze frontman) Glenn Tilbrook is playing at World Cafe Live tonight. Tilbrook has been touring the UK and U.S. in support of his upcoming solo release, expected to be out later this year. Find more information and tickets for tonight’s all ages event here. Watch as Tilbrook and his crew arrive to the states in his 2013 tour video below, and prepare for the show by listening to Tilbrook’s 2001 acoustic version of “Tempted” below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cheers Elephant at Underground Arts, Rusted Root at Musikfest Cafe, Meg Hutchinson at Burlap and Bean, Stinking Lizaveta at Kungfu Necktie

IMG_1455-620x413Philly-based Cheers Elephant have been busy lately. When they’re not rocking the City Hall Presents concert series, they’re probably off in Brooklyn performing on rooftops for Paste Magazine. The local indie-rockers will be back at it once more tonight, when they’ll be bringing their delightful psych-pop to Underground Arts, for a show with Wild Adriatic. The band’s latest, Like Wind Blows Fire, came out in May of last year. Tickets and info can be found here, and watch the video for their song “Doin’ It, Right” below.

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Watch a preview of Mayer Hawthorne’s new album, Where Does the Door Go, (playing Musikfest on 8/3)

mayer hawthorne

Retro pop / soul artist Mayer Hawthorne will take his music in a new direction on Where Does the Door Go, claiming “I decided that I would want to make an entire album of songs that I would play on my yacht, when I was cruising on the yacht on the water.”  The new album follows up 2011’s How Do You Do and the yacht-rock sensibilities were clear on the smoothly operated first taste of the album “Designer Drug,” a free download that the Michigan native released earlier this month.  With a record release date set for July 16th Hawthorne will set out on tour with One Republic this summer, stopping at Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA on June 3rd.  Tickets and information can be found here.  Watch a preview for the album below featuring a series of cinematic door-opening scenes.