WXPN Welcomes the Philly F/M Fest: shows Sharon Van Etten, Marissa Nadler, Hezekiah Jones and the Philly F/M Festival BBQ

WXPN Welcomes two shows at this year’s Philly F/M (Film & Music) Fest happening September 22-25th. The first show features Sharon Van Etten, Marissa Nadler and Hezekiah Jones on Friday, September 23rd at World Cafe Live. On Sunday, September 25th 15 bands on two stages will be at the Festival BBQ at The Ukie Club starting at 11AM. Some of the bands include Jukebox The Ghost, The Head and The Heart, Reading Rainbow, Birdie Busch, Good Old War, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Toy Soldiers, The Parson Red Heads, Nicos Gun and more. Ticket information for both shows can be found here. Below, some videos of Hezekiah Jones, Reading Rainbow, and Sharon Van Etten from WXPN’s and Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through series.


Philly Local Philes: Reading Rainbow and Creepoid at Vox Populi benefit

Whether its experimental screenings by local filmmaker Ted Passon or captivating ambient improvisation by national names Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon (performing as Mirror/Dash, back in 2005), you can always count on Chinatown’s Vox Populi Gallery to keep the Philadelphia arts scene fresh, thrilling and alive. But that doesn’t happen on its own. Like most cultural organizations, Vox relies heavily on fundraising, and this Thursday is a tremendous opportunity to give back. A benefit for the gallery is being thrown at Johnny Brenda’s, and it includes performances by today’s Philly Phile artists – Key Studio Sessions alums Reading Rainbow and Creepoid (pictured above). Also on tap is a collaborative appearance by local guitar mindbender Steve Gunn and drummer John Trucsinski, and a DJ set from mega scene supporter Dan Murphy, of the venerable photo-zine Megawords. Information about the Vox Populi benefit this Thursday at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s can be found here. Below, download Key Session tracks from Reading Rainbow and Creepoid.


The Boston Phoenix discovers what Philly’s been saying for a while: The band Reading Rainbow is pretty awesome

Thanks to local photographer (and occasional The Key contributor) Chris Zakorchemny for giving us the heads up: The Boston Phoenix has just named Philly’s own Reading Rainbow as the best band not just in the city, but in the entire state of Pennsylvania. So sez The Phoenix:

“Everton and Garcia’s music is sweet but not lacking a punk-rock backbone, made clear by the way Reading Rainbow was born: the two were in another band together, when their previous drummer suddenly announced that he couldn’t go on a tour. They improvised and created a new band they could tour with — Sarah took a floor tom and snare and taught herself to play drums. With that stripped-down set-up they’ve created some of the best pop songs we’ve heard this year, including “Always on My Mind,” recorded at Philadelphia’s Miner Street Studios during a session of Weathervane Music’s video series ‘Shaking Through.'”

(Poor Washington, D.C.: Not only do the residents of Our Nation’s Capital still not have the right to vote for representatives in Congress, but the district’s local music scene doesn’t even count in the eyes of alt-weeklies any more. That’s just harsh.)

You can listen to our own Key Studio Session with Reading Rainbow here; our recent interview with the duo-turned-trio (including the new third member, Al Creedon) can be found here.


Interview: All three members of (the duo-turned-trio) Reading Rainbow

Reading Rainbow
Hey, where's the new guy?

On a sticky Philadelphia evening, The Key caught up with Reading Rainbow in the patio garden behind Rocket Cat Café in Fishtown. The band, with new member Al Creedon, had just finished dinner at a restaurant down the street, and we sat behind the coffee shop, where drummer Sarah Everton works. (At one point, the interview was interrupted to help Sarah’s co-worker locate paper airplanes that she had let a customer’s son make out of car insurance papers.) All of this is to say that, even if Sarah and Rob Garcia hail from Virginia and have only lived in Philadelphia for four years, the affinity they now have with their city and neighborhood is almost palpable. “You could have just come to our house, it’s right down the street,” said Sarah. Since their first full length Mystical Participation was released in 2009, Reading Rainbow has been playing around in the gray area between internet flare-up sensation and lasting psychedelic shoe gaze punk rockers, but since the November 2010 release of Prism Eyes, Garcia and Everton are determined to prove their staying power and serious musicianship. Catching the band between tours, The Key spoke with Sarah, Rob and Al about feeling inadequate, Al’s arrival, and why they hate being called “cute.”

The Key: So, how did you guys meet Al? How did he end up becoming your third member?

Rob Garcia: We actually go way back.

Al Creedon: Years.

RG: When we first started playing in Philadelphia, we played with this band called Hermit Thrushes, who live in South Philly. A lot of those dudes are from New Jersey.

AC: Yeah, and I grew up in Jersey, kind of in the same circle as Yianni Kourmadas from Hermit Thrushes, and that’s who introduced us.

RG: Sarah and I were in the process of recording a whole bunch of songs, and we had put out a CDR. Al had his own record label at that point, which he still has, and he helped release our first album, Mystical Participation. Ever since then pretty much every other 7” we’ve ever done, and most of the songs on our last album Prism Eyes, were mixed by Al. So when Sarah and I were thinking, “Gosh, it’d be great to have a third person, who would it be?,” it made the most sense that it would be Al, since he’s familiar with all of our songs… As the band is moving along, and we’re trying to grow and progress and evolve, having another person to help move that along and be able to play live songs with a lot more stuff going on is what we wanted.

Sarah Everton: On the last tour we did, when we were out with The Dodos, we felt really inadequate the whole time. Well, no, I mean in a good way. An inspiring way. We were just like, “We have to get another guitar player.” And we were already leading Al on a whole lot, like, “If we ever get someone, it would be you!” And then finally I was texting Al saying, “Learn all of our songs.”

AC: And I just said, “OK.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Zola Jesus at Johnny Brenda’s + Low, Norwegian Arms, Grass Widow

As far as breakout years go, Zola Jesus (Nika Roza Danilova) had a pretty good 2010. The six-song Stridulum EP (released on Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones Records in March) was extended into a nine-song full length, Stridulum II, and released on the German label Souterrain Transmissions in August; a second EP, Valusia (also on Sacred Bones), was then released in October. (And, between all of that, Danilova found the time to record a split EP with LA Vampires, released by Not Not Fun.) All three of the lo-fi goth chanteuse’s 2010 records managed to garner a respectable amount of accolades, delivering on the promise of her previous work—which began with a couple of singles in 2008 and a full length, The Spoils, in 2009. It might not be the opera career Danilova originally envisioned for herself when she first became enamored with singing at the age of 7 (while growing up on a bleak, isolated, 100-acre stretch of wilderness in Madison, WI). But it’s certainly an impressive emergence for the experimental goth-pop artist, and one that has us looking forward to tonight’s show (as well as her next release). Zola Jesus performs with Naked On The Vague at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10-$12.

And, if you missed John Vettese’s Philly Local Phile from last Friday—which featured the new three-song Norwegian Arms EP, Trimming Of Hides, in its entirety—you can give it a listen here prior to tonight’s opening performance at Kung Fu Necktie. Norwegian Arms performs with Oh No Oh My, Arrah And The Ferns, and Cow Pals at 8 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are $8.

Also playing: Low (touring in support of its recently released full-length album, C’Mon—which we mentioned here) + Stick And A Stone at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $15); Philadelphia’s Reading Rainbow headlines a lineup that also features Grass Widow (Kill Rock Stars) + Broken Water, Acid Kicks at Danger Danger Gallery (8:30 p.m., all ages, $5-$10)


Reading Rainbow’s new single, “Cover The Sky”

Just a few seconds in to the new Reading Rainbow one-sided single “Cover The Sky” (on the Italian label Hell, Yes!), you can’t help but notice something different about the band’s sound. The duo has traded out its garage-rock leanings for a sweet, yearning, and slightly shoegazing sound. The guitar playing sparkles through the reverbed wall of sound, and—for four minutes and six seconds—you can hear the band wondrously broadening its sound. You can order the limited edition (400 hand numbered copies) here.

READING RAINBOW “Cover The Sky” by HellYes


Meet George, the world’s biggest fan of Reading Rainbow

Photo by Bruce Warren

Meet George, quite possibly the world’s biggest fan of Reading Rainbow. I couldn’t help but take his picture last Saturday evening at SXSW in Austin, as I was hanging out on 6th Street. I was just surveying the thousands of people out on the street, and there came George—wearing a big smile and a new Reading Rainbow t-shirt. George is from Los Angeles, and took some time off from his job managing a couple of record stores to go to the music conference and festival. He told me that seeing Reading Rainbow at SXSW was one of his favorite shows and that we should be happy to have a band as great as Reading Rainbow in Philly. We agree.


Reaching For The Brass Ring: Philly Bands at South By Southwest (Part II)

Reading Rainbow
Reading Rainbow

One of the many good things about being a duo is the relative ease of setting up and breaking down your equipment. In an environment like SXSW, where bands are rushed on and off the stage with barely enough time to perform a five-song set, that kind of hassle-free setup can save a band a lot of aggravation. So we hope that—while five- and six-piece bands are sweating it out, trying to get all of their guitars, synthesizers, laptops, basses, and drum kits from one show to the next—local duos such as Reading Rainbow and Slutever get to take their sweet time and actually enjoy the experience. Reading Rainbow and Slutever perform at the WXPN/YVYNYL showcase on Thursday, March 17th, at the The Broken Neck. You can find both bands’ additional SXSW dates on their websites.

The electronica band Golden Ages are performing several shows in Austin (including our local showcase with YVYNYL). Last summer, the music blog universe raved over Golden Ages’ cover of Toto’s “Africa” (which you can download below), and many a blog referenced Animal Collective as a point of comparison. We, on the hand, hear a young band with a sophisticated sense of melody set to an electro-rhythmic, somewhat noisy background.

We’ve been fans of Kurt Vile’s singer-songwriter stoner haze for a long time. His new album Smoke Ring For My Halo is his best yet, with Pitchfork giving the album a Best New Music award. Kurt is performing Saturday at Auditorium Shores Stage at 4:30 Central Time as part of NPR Music’s live radio broadcast on WXPN (4:30 Eastern).