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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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Spooky Scary: Celebrating Hurry-ween at PhilaMOCA

Hurry | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Hurry | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Something wicked good this way comes. With autumn magic in the crisp evening air, the mood on Friday at PhilaMOCA was just right for a stacked bill of four Philly bands to transform into haunted visages of their former selves and take the stage by force. Put on by your friends and mine, the breezy power-poppers in Hurry presented the Hurry Halloween Spectacular — a veritable Hurry-ween. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sad13 at PhilaMOCA, Mexrrissey at The Kimmel Center, T.J. Kong and The Atomic Bomb at Underground Arts and more

Sad13 | photo by shervin lainez | photo courtesy of the artist
Sad13 | photo by shervin lainez | photo courtesy of the artist

Mostly known for her role as frontwoman for grunge-pop band Speedy Ortiz, Sadie Dupuis is slated to release her first solo album Slugger on November 11th under the moniker Sad13. She kicked off her debut tour on Thursday, and is paying Philadelphia a visit tonight at PhilaMOCA. Sad13’s music is largely centered around the idea of empowering women, and we’re all for it. Joining this Massachusetts synth-popper will be Philly artists Ivy Sole and Empath with NYC-based rapper Sammus topping off this stacked lineup. Go to the WXPN Concert Calendar for tickets and more information on this all ages show. Get a taste of Sad13 with this song off her new album, “Devil in U.” Continue reading →

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Fall in love with the ’70s all over again at PhilaMOCA on November 14th with Sheer Mag and Dirty Fences

Sheer Mag
Sheer Mag, as pictured on the sleeve of their debut 7″

On Monday, November 14th, PhilaMOCA welcomes two bands whose music is deeply embedded in the rebellion-fueled rock of the ’70s.

The Philadelphia-based quintet Sheer Mag leans more towards a lively hybrid of punk and ’70s riff rock; the band’s most recent release, III, came out in March of 2016. It is carried by heavy distortion and lo-fi vocals saturated with youthful indignance.   Continue reading →

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Sad13 gears up for Slugger and her first solo tour with “Devil in U”

Sad13 | photo by shervin lainez | photo courtesy of the artist
Sad13 | photo by shervin lainez | photo courtesy of the artist

Sadie Dupuis is probably best known as frontwoman of grunge-pop band Speedy Ortiz, but this fall she is is slated to release her debut solo album under the Sad13 moniker. Dupuis has been teasing music off Slugger for about a month now, and just dropped the track “Devil in U” to hold us over until the November 11th release date. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Chali 2NA at Ardmore Music Hall, Told Slant at PhilaMOCA, Margaret Glaspy at Johnny Brenda’s and more…

chali 2na
Chali 2na | photo via Facebook

Chali 2na performs at the Ardmore Music Hall tonight. The Chicago-born rapper has a collaboration list that includes legendary acts like Jurassic 5, Ozomatli, Run DMT, and Galactic, though his deep voice was most recently heard on Savoy’s “Love Is Killing Me.” Check out that track below and pick up tickets for the 21+ show with New Orleans jazz / funk outfit Professor Naughty here.

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Nirvana, Garbage recording sessions remembered in The Smart Studios Story doc, screening at PhilaMOCA

Steve Marker in Smart Studios, 1987. Note the studio Mac computer to his right. | via facebook.com/thesmartstudiosstory

It’s hard to believe that a nondescript, seemingly-abandoned brick building on a street corner in Madison, WI could produced records like Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkin’s Gish, and Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans, but that’s exactly what Smart Studios did.

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Get to know No Thank You with her debut EP A Nü Start

No Thank You
No Thank You | via nothankyouband.bandcamp.com

Raw acoustics, dreamy vocals, and stunning lyrics are a just a few of the things you can expect from new Philly artist No Thank You.

The project of singer and songwriter Kate Della Monica, No Thank You recently posted a three-track demo on Bandcamp called A Nü Start. The tracks were recorded on her iPhone in Della Monica’s house in South Philly.

The straightforward approach to recording gives these songs a reverberant vibe similar to Bon Iver’s massive hit For Emma, Forever Ago. We hear Della Monica playing acoustic guitar accompanied by breezy vocals; the intro track “Juicy J” juxtaposes a persisting guitar riff with idyllic lyrics: “Colors that are complementing spectral spiral never ending / I feel so astoundingly pretty around you.” It carries a poetic sense of innocence. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Pinegrove

Pinegrove| photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Pinegrove | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

“I’m a happy guy that makes sad music,” jokes Evan Stephens Hall with a smile. Spending time with someone as effervescent as Hall in person, you might never even realize the fact that the songs he writes for Pinegrove bring together packed rooms of yelling, sometimes tearful people. But over the past year, Pinegrove catapulted from their hometown of Montclair, NJ to the big time — signing to Run For Cover Records, selling out almost every date of a massive summer tour of the US and appearing at festivals like Lollapalooza. The reception speaks volumes to the relatability and maturity that Evan brings to the project. These aren’t just sad songs for sad people, or an attempt to jump on the “emo revival” bandwagon. These songs are holistically approached pieces of work, that touch on every emotion under the sun — good and bad. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: LVL Up at PhilaMOCA and Pylon Reenactment Society at Johnny Brenda’s

LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill
LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill

Tonight, the lo-fi Indie rockers of LVL Up will be playing at the PhilaMOCA. The four-piece outfit just released their third full length LP, Return to Love, on Sub Pop Records; read our interview with the Brooklyn band here, and let them personally guide you through their new album tonight at PhilaMOCA. For more information about the show check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch the video for “The Closing Door” off their new album below. Continue reading →