Sofar Sounds has built up a reputation as an organization that puts together intimate house shows with some insane lineups. Amnesty International is the world’s largest human rights organization and a leader in combatting the refugee crisis. Add the two together and you get one massive concert series, bringing 1,000 musicians to 200 cities around the world — Philadelphia being one of them — to raise money for and gather in solidarity with refugees. It’s called “Give a Home” and it’s happening Sept. 20. Continue reading →
On the latest episode of the 25 O’Clock podcast, host Dan Drago shifts his sights from the scene to behind the scenes as he welcomes Carolyn Lederach to the show. Best known as curator of the mothly SoFAR Philly living room concert series, Lederach has also made a name for herself locally as a photographer, blogger and – more recently – an artist manager working with The Sun Flights and Josh Miller.
On the show, Lederach and Drago have a wide-ranging conversation. They discuss the nature of her shows and how it can be a more fulfilling experience to see an artist in a living room with 50 attentive people than in a club with 200 chatty, drunken people. Continue reading →
A photo posted by Sofar Sounds Philadelphia (@sofarphilly) on
Philly musician Tamar Dart, aka Little Strike is traveling in Ecuador at the moment, but we just got a look at the SoFAR show she played back in July in Philly. Little Strike usually plays amid a tapestry of samplers and effects, but in this setting Dart just went with an acoustic guitar, her confident vocals and powerful lyrics for a poignant performance. Check it out below. Continue reading →
Last year The Burgeoning released their Love Alchemy, Life Algorithm EP, introducing us to soft-spoken lead vocalist Logan Thierjung and the rest of the charismatic group. This year, aside from stopping at WXPN to record for record for The Key Studio Sessions a month ago, The Burgeoning played an intimate set at SoFAR Philadelphia in early April, a video of which surfaced this week. Continue reading →
Local dream pop four-piece Cruiser played a re-vibed version of their latest single “Kidnap Me” at a Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia event recently. Taking the summery, upbeat dance-pop track in a new direction, Cruiser slowed things down a bit and gave it a drifting feel that evoked a sense of cloud watching in lieu of beach parties. Watch the video below and see Cruiser live at Kung Fu Necktie on January 15th with Suburban Living and Dream Safari. Tickets and information can be found here.
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributor Nikki Volpicelli highlights women doing amazing work this year.
…because every single one of these women (and many more) deserves a shout out before this year ends.
Sometimes Nicky Devine is sitting at the bar at Johnny Brenda’s with a keen eye on the running of the evening’s concert. Other times you can’t find her at all because she’s sprinting around the venue, making sure everyone going on stage is happy (and wanting to return to our lovely city to entertain us again). That’s the life of a Production Assistant. Devine splits her time as a PA and a Production Supervisor for Weathervane Music, managing the production and release schedule of monthly Shaking Through sessions. She’s also Festival Director at the annual 2nd Street Festival, and if you’ve ever experienced the panic attack that is trying to maneuver your way through NoLibs on this day, you can begin to understand the impossibility of running the whole operation.
“Who asks these questions?” Was the first question I asked myself after reading this super well crafted Q&A with fuzz-rocker King Tuff (one of my favorite artists this year). I took to the side bar of the Philly Girl About Town blog for an answer and found co-editor Carly Marcoux. Compared to some of its online peers, PGAT only posts a few choice interviews and reviews per month, but Marcoux keeps busy, holding down a day job and playing drums on the side (and singing) in The Pretty Greens – a feminist fuzz-garage group that periodically publishes a pop-art fanzine called Pretty Signals (Issue #2 came out in August). SheT also plays in No Other and freelances for Tom Tom Magazine, a quarterly publication dedicated to female drummers.
This Saturday night is a big one for Philly singer Ali Wadsworth. She’s celebrating her 32nd birthday, she’s celebrating the release of her long-in-the-works self-titled debut solo album and she’s performing at Northern Liberties’ Ruba Club with a band that features members of Good Old War, The Lawsuits and more. Also tapped for opening sets at the party are Divers, Auctioneer and Thom McCarthy, and the Tripledouble DJs will spin until late. Details can be found at the show’s Facebook event page, and getting psyched can be achieved in the video below. It’s from local filmmaker Bob Sweeney and it captures Wadsworth performing her song “Biding My Time” in a scaled down but no less powerful style at June’s SoFAR Philly showcase concert.
Philly-area four-piece Satellite Hearts are a bunch of bruiser rock and rollers, big riffs and loud amps and thunder drums. But folks who attended this Sunday’s SoFAR Philly show on West Spring Garden Street got to hear a different side of the band. They traded their Les Paul Customs for acoustic guitar and mandolin, their Matchless amps for an unamplified living room, and showed their sound’s versatility. Plugged in, they’re totally raucous and Blues Explosion-y; acoustic, it takes a more Beatles bent, and the group wears both sides well.
The new EP Satellite Hearts released on Friday definitely takes the former approach; Four to the Floor burnsacross three tracks in just about ten minutes, leaving Black Keys style skidmarks. The set was recorded at New York’s Converse Rubber Tracks Studio this April, and it’s the band’s final release before entering an autumn / winter hibernation for songwriting purposes. It told the SoFAR crowd on Sunday that their last area show for a while is on Saturday, September 28, when it plays an afternoon set at the New Hope Arts and Crafts Festival; its set happens at 2 p.m.., more information can be found here. Below, listen to Four to the Floor, and grab a download at Bandcamp.
Another reason you should follow SoFAR Philly on their Facebook page – you get to find out the latest on their monthly showcase of secret-lineup house shows. This past weekend was a great one: crowded in a cozy West Philadelphia living room, we got a solo set from Aaron Brown of Aaron and the Spell, an ensemble performance from The Gallerist and Dominic Angelella acting as a one-man DRGN King. Watch a video of Dom playing “the most stripped-down version of ‘Holy Ghost’ you will ever hear” below. (You can see me bobbing my head in the lower righthand corner for a second.) And don’t forget, DRGN King released the excellent Paragraph Nights LP last week; the band celebrates its release at PhilaMOCA on Feb. 2nd with Dangerous Ponies and more. Information on the show can be found here.
Last night, Philadelphia’s SoFAR Sounds chapter welcomed Wilmington indie-poppers The Spinto Band, London folk-rockers The Brute Chorus and Philadelphia poet K.P. Brown to a living room in Olde Kensington. This is the third installment of the new house concert series – which has previously featured sets from The Lawsuits, Peasant, Alessi’s Ark, Lightning Jar, The Spinning Leaves, Hezekiah Jones and spoken word artist Ms. Wise. The night drew a bustling crowd, both players in the Philly music scene (ubiquitous hip-hop artist Kuf Knotz and North Star Bar programmer Andrew Miller were in attendance) as well as curious music fans. But the very act of calling it a “house concert” might be selling SoFAR (Songs From a Room) short. Performances were streamed live on the internet, and documented by a video crew for an archive on the London-based organization’s central website. The operating philosophy is unconventional as well. It doesn’t actively advertise; you have to like its Facebook page to find out the date and time of the next event, RSVP for the location, and typically don’t know who’s performing until you arrive. Victor Gennaro of Philadelphia rock outfit Mountjoy was the evening’s MC (it was his house the crowd was filing into) and while he got the show underway, The Key spoke with Carolyn Lederach, regional coordinator of SoFAR, about the program’s underground approach to supporting artists…in between pauses for her to answer the front door and ask new arrivals to make themselves at home.
The Key: How were you introduced to the SoFAR Sounds series and what inspired you to bring it to Philly? Carolyn Lederach: I have a friend, Rebecca Pierce, who’s really involved in music. She knew [SoFAR] was trying to start a branch here in Philadelphia, so she just got me in touch with them and it worked out. This is like the 15th city they’ve started it in.
TK: What other cities have it?
CL: It started in London. Here in the U.S., they have it in Dallas, L.A., New York, Minneapolis, and there’s ones in Europe and India too.
TK: Have you gone to any of the other cities, the London one?
CL: I have not. I’ve been meaning to go to the New York one, so one day soon. We actually did get help from the MCs up in New York, they came down here and gave us a hand starting things. This is actually our first solo run at it.
TK: When you’re programming each event, what do you look for in the musicians as well as the spoken word artists?
CL: We pretty much just look for something different, we try to mix everything to get a different genre and feel for every night. You have upbeat things, and you try to think about what would sound good in an intimate acoustic room. So obviously the artists would have to be able to strip down the music in some way, and still be fun and interactive. SoFAR has had different artists who use loop pedals and some electronica kind of stuff too. They’ve kind of tried all different things throughout the network.
TK: Do you choose the artists personally, or is it more of a committee?
CL: Everyone does a little bit of everything. Everyone in all the different cities will maybe hear a band and then suggest it because they might be [touring] in a different area. So for example, the girl who runs things in L.A. sent us some suggestions of bands she thought of, and bands will submit things. There’s word-of-mouth, or someone will see a band open for someone else. So it’s a bunch of things really.
TK: How do you find the houses you use as venues?
CL: Well, this is actually the second time we’ve been at Victor’s place. The first one was at Victor’s too; we found it because The Lawsuits [who played that show] were trying to help us find a spot. We had a couple people at the last one come forward with interest in opening up their place. I guess it’s all kind of word of mouth too, different people hear about it and think it sounds like a cool opportunity.
TK: There are a lot of similar DIY shows, house show operations, things of that nature going on in Philly. What do you feel sets SoFAR apart?
CL: Because it’s the global community of SoFAR, it’s beyond this one night. They usually have a live stream set up – we have the computer set up now to run the stream of the show online so people can log in anywhere and listen to it. And then we have the videographers and photographers and stuff, and those videos and photos will be sent around online to the SoFAR sites. So everyone kind of gets a feel for it.
TK: I think it’s interesting that you don’t really announce who’s performing; people who show up don’t necessarily know who they’re going to see. Why is that?
CL: That’s a good question! It’s about the musical community, and sometimes you have bigger artists come through, and you don’t want the huge crowd to come just for them. You want someone to come and appreciate the music itself, as opposed to just one artist. You want someone to sit down and just enjoy the whole night and not really care who’s playing. Or trust the SoFAR experience that we’re going to provide a great group of music.
TK: If you were to sum up the overall goal of SoFAR, how would you do it? CL: The whole SoFAR thing started with the ideals of bring musicians out of clubs, where people might not really respect them as much. You pay to get into a show and you might be standing there trying to listen to your favorite band and the group next to you is talking, or on their phone. It’s about bringing music out of that medium and into this intimate setting where you have people sitting and collectively listening to what’s there.