Smoke and mirrors or riveting experimental rock? Evaluating Black Midi ahead of their March PhilaMOCA gig.

Black Midi | via R5 Productions

Any time a band is introduced as “mysterious,” boasting “minimal online presence” and a “came out of nowhere” backstory, my bullshit detector goes off. Either this is marketing smoke and mirrors, possibly designed to obscure sketchy information somebody is embarrassed over (ahem, Superorganism), or it’s an honest description of an impossibly lazy and stuck-in-the-past artist who happens to be privileged enough to have influential connections in their corner (looking at you, Parquet Courts).

I don’t bring this up to suggest that London’s Black Midi are themselves bullshit, or sketchy, or stuck-in-the-past, but more to explain my initial skepticism when I read the description on R5 Productions’ announcement of their upcoming gig at PhilaMOCA. Their debut 7″ single sold out “almost instantly”…but, like, 250 copies is not a lot. They’re on an indie label run by a guy named Dan Carey who, by the way, happens to be a record producer who has worked on songs (hits and otherwise) by Django Django, Bat For Lashes, Sia, and was producer and co-writer of Kylie Minogue’s 2003 banger “Slow” — which in and of itself would make a statue of him in the foyer of some London club not inappropriate — all of which is to say, “indie” is relative and this guy backing these upstart artists probably goes a long way.

The bigger question here: so what? Why does any of this matter? Is the music any good? And having not been fortunate enough to travel and see them in person at Windmill Brixton or Iceland Airwaves, we really only have two songs to evaluate and answer this query: Black Midi’s debut single, a chugging piece of wiry experimental guitar rock called “bmbmbm” that builds from a tense power chord rhythm to a cutting vocal howl, and their synth-oriented new “speedway,” which landed in my news feed yesterday (almost concurrent with the show announcement) care of The QuietusContinue reading →


Slaughter Beach, Dog and Thin Lips sweat it out at PhilaMOCA

Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Two great Philly forces combined this past Saturday at PhilaMOCA, where Thin Lips and Slaughter Beach, Dog co-headlined along with opener Queen Jesus. It was a sold-out show coming at the tail-end of a hot summer. Fortunately, these are bands to sweat to. Thin Lips have a classic sensibility about their hooks that you have to move to, with clean riffs and sobering lyrics. Slaughter Beach, Dog, led by former Modern Baseball guitarist Jake Ewald, can play with a crowd instead, going from punk anthems (with a bit of Gibson twang) to solemn folk-inspired jams. Regardless of their duality, the crowd that night seldom could be found not echoing every word from the bands. Continue reading →


Just Announced: illuminati hotties headline PhilaMOCA this October

Illuminati Hotties | photo by Kristy Benjamin | courtesy of the artist

Self-proclaimed “tenderpunk pioneer” illuminati hotties headline PhilaMOCA this October. Project of do-it-all L.A. musician Sarah Tudzin, the songs on 2018 debut LP Kiss Yr Frenemies display a range of dynamics and emotions. At times, the tracks take on quiet, lo-fi qualities, similar to Philly’s Cyberbully Mom Club. Elsewhere, driving and explosive riffs blindside the listener, like on track “Shape of My Hands.” Tudzin generated well-deserved buzz surrounding the release of the album following its May release on Tiny Engines. The opening of the album features the one-two punch of the quiet, prelude-esque title track leading into the driving, power-pop bop “(You’re Better) Than Ever.” Continue reading →


Just Announced: Andy Shauf adds a PhilaMOCA show to his fall solo tour

Andy Shauf
Andy Shauf | photo by Chris Graham

Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf‘s upcoming solo tour doesn’t begin until November, but tickets are already selling out left and right — which makes sense, because who wouldn’t want to see Shauf, who usually commands stages the size of Union Transfer, play a tiny show at a space like PhilaMOCA with only an acoustic guitar and the promise of new songs? Lucky for us, that dream is about to come true this fall. Continue reading →


Just Announced: Slaughter Beach, Dog and Thin Lips at PhilaMOCA

Thin Lips | photo by Scott Troyan | courtesy of the artist // Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist

Not much beats a stacked double bill of local favorites, and that must be just what Slaughter Beach, Dog had in mind when booking their upcoming tour. It’ll be the band’s first headlining run since last fall, when they released their debut LP Birdie, and for the East Coast leg of the tour, Thin Lips is coming along (the second half of the tour gets Gladie, which is pretty cool, too). The two Lame-O labelmates will join forces at PhilaMOCA on August 25. Continue reading →


The All Mutable Summer Jam will push things forward with two days of experimental sounds this July

Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist
Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist

For the past couple years, local booking and promotions collective All Mutable has been throwing shows with some seriously stacked lineups with boundary-pushing, genre-defying artists. Their latest endeavor is no exception. Happening over two days in late July, the All Mutable Summer Jam will bring together 15 artists across two locations.

The lineup for the first night, July 27 at Lacquer, includes Philly’s own 700 Bliss, plus Container, Dreamcrusher, Swan Meat, Deli Girls, Beau Mahadev, and Collar. Day two at PhilaMOCA on July 28 will bring Chicago electronic musician and footwork pioneer RP Boo to the stage, plus NYC-based artists Sporting Life and YATTA. Also in the mix, all the way from Japan, is experimental electronic producer Foodman. But there are also quite a few locals lined up, too — including beatmaker Kilamanzego, NAH, Ada Babar, and Palm’s vocalist/guitarist Kasra Kurt. Read more about the artists via R5 Productions, read more about All Mutable in this interview with The Key’s Alex Smith. Continue reading →


Get ready for Chris Forsyth’s PhilaMOCA show with new live EP Rare Dreams

Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band are a go big or go home type of band. Everything they do sounds like it was made to fill up a vast open space, and it does. Their intricate and sprawling songs usually span several minutes and are full of wide, sweeping instrumentals, making for quite a dynamic live performance. Continue reading →


Americanadian join forces with Nowadays to form fun EP split mashup Nowacanadian

Americanadian | photo via

Philly DIY locals Americanadian grabbed our attention last month with their breezy infectiousness on track, “Apple Cider Vinegar.” Keeping with their penchant for fun name mashups, the band recently released an EP split with South Jersey four-piece, Nowadays, to create the perfectly dubbed, Nowacanadian. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Angel Olsen at Union Transfer, Elephant Stone at Underground Arts, Sports at PhilaMOCA

Angel Olsen | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

If you caught Angel Olsen‘s mesmerizing set at XPN Fest this summer, or even if you didn’t, chances are you’ll want to snag a last-minute ticket to the singer-songwriter’s headlining show at Union Transfer tonight. Olsen’s playing two nights in Philly, but tomorrow’s show is already sold out. White Magic opens both shows. Olsen’s 2016 release My Woman was voted one of The Key’s top albums last year, and she followed it up this year with Phases, a collection of rarities and B-sides. Watch Angel Olsen’s video for “Special” below and find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Rapsody at The Foundry, Petunia at Kung Fu Necktie, Kississippi at PhilaMOCA

Rapsody | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

Rapsody was last seen in Philly at this year’s Made in America Festival, and the city’s been awaiting her return ever since. The North Carolina MC and hip-hop artist brings her “Wisdom is Power” tour to The Foundry tonight in support of her debut solo album Laila’s Wisdom, released earlier this fall. Watch Rapsody’s video for “Power” below, featuring Kendrick Lamar. Find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →