Central Pa. hometown boys The Districts are in the middle of what’s shaping up to be a year of hard touring, but they brought the rock home yesterday afternoon for a Free at Noon set and a warm reception from the packed crowd. Listen to the six-song set in its entirety and peruse a gallery of photos below, and see the setlist after the jump. The Districts will be back in town this May for an appearance at WXPN’s NonCOMM on May 14th as well as an all-ages show at the First Unitarian Church on May 15th.
This month’s edition of Communion Club night at Underground Arts gets a seductive R&B makeover tonight with a set from newcomer Johnny Stimson. Flaunting an effortless falsetto range, Stimson’s voice is soulful even as it accompanies more upbeat, dance tracks. Also on tonight’s lineup is folksy singer-songwriter Gretchen Lohse who recently released a dreamy video for “Spider At the Gate”. Dig into tracks from both artists below and get tickets here.
Local favorite Birdie Busch is set to rock Boot and Saddle tonight with her dreamy folk tunes and magnetic appeal. Busch released her album Birdie Busch and the Greatest Night last year and has played tons of shows in the area, establishing her presence in the Philly scene. Watch “Far From the Tree” below and get tickets here.
The rickety van piloted by Philly psych-thrash outfit Ruby the Hatchet rolled into Austin just a few hours before its first South By Southwest gig last week. Cutting it close, for sure, but the band was just happy to arrive.
“We broke down,” guitarist John Scarperia explained as he set up for the End Records showcase at LIT Lounge. “We were stuck in Tennessee for two days.”
Talk about a setback. I ask if they missed any tour shows on the trip down. Scarperia laughs, then says “We didn’t play any. But it was fun, all part of the adventure, right?
The band dished a raucous set of its heady, heavy rock to a modest but appreciative crowd – which included singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, a longtime friend of Hatchet frontwoman Jillian Taylor. The next day, it rocked Thrasher Mag’s unofficial Deathmatch showcase, and spent the rest of the weekend mingling with the music-devouring masses. Overall, it was a positive experience, and even culminated in Taylor getting a new tattoo (a hatchet, of course).
Ruby the Hatchet was one of dozens of locals that made the trek to Austin this year. Musicians of all styles and degrees of renown represented Philly at SXSW. There were known names like rapper Spank Rock, who played an energized set to a buck wild crowd at the Boyz Noize showcase at The Majestic on Thursday, and alt-bluesman G. Love who played the 18th Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn the same night. There were emerging artists, like folk singer Vikesh Kapoor and punk power trio Amanda X, or SXSW vets like rapper Lushlife, heavy psych heads Creepoid, and dream punks Nothing, who played a 2 a.m. set on a pedestrian footbridge.
“I feel like SXSW serves as a hub for discovery,” says Philly rapper Chill Moody, who I caught during his showcase at the Amped Austin lounge on Saturday afternoon. “I met a bunch of musicians and professionals in the music industry in just one week. Built some strong connections that will hopefully help me with the next steps in my career.”
For Moody, who is used to feeding off the love of the hometown fan base he’s cultivated over the past few years – he headlines venues like The TLA and Union Transfer locally – it was an opportunity to perform to complete strangers in smaller rooms, and win them over. The Amped show featured his right hand man Beano, a charismatic and occasionally comedic R&B singer, hopping offstage and dancing in the midst of the crowd, to the delight of many Instagram-snappers.
“It was a good chance to show a different audience exactly what you can do,” said Moody.
Downstairs at the same venue, electronic rock duo City Rain debuted songs from their new Songs From a High School Dance LP, due out in late April. Again, the crowd was (with the exception of myself) strangers, but people fed off singer / songwriter Ben Runyuan’s relentless energy, particularly on the driving anthem “Waiting on a Dream.”
“This is our last showcase,” Runyan said. “So I’m just throwing everything I got into this.” Continue reading →
Central Pennsylvania-bred rockers The Districts are in the middle of a pretty awesome week. On Tuesday, their self-titled EP came out on Fat Possum Records, and they played a pizza-fueled release party at A.K.A. Music in Old City Philadelphia. Tonight, they play their biggest Philly show to date, opening for Dr. Dog at the Electric Factory.
They also appeared live on the WXPN airwaves this week, performing two songs acoustic on the Leicht Lunch and chatting with host Helen Leicht about their plans now that their music is out in the world in a bigger way than ever before. Watch a video of the guys playing “Rocking Chair” in the XPN studios below, and listen to the entire interview in the Soundcloud player below. And get more information on the show tonight at the WXPN concert calendar.
New York-based electric dance band Brazilian Girls play tonight at Underground Arts. The band’s fans are anxiously awaiting the release of its newest album – it’s acclaimed New York City came out six years ago. After taking a brief hiatus, Brazilian Girls are currently touring the East Coast and making a stop in Montreal. The 21+ show will start at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets here and check out the band’s video for “Don’t Stop” below.
A crowd gathered in A.K.A. Music in Old City Tuesday night not to peruse records, but to watch The Districts celebrate the release of their debut EP with Fat Possum Records.
Ranging from devout listeners to random passersby, the buzzing Central Pa. band welcomed the audience (many munching on free slices from Pizza Brain) as they walked around the record store shaking hands, greeting friends and fans with beaming grins.
The Districts took the stage at about 6:30 p.m. and played for roughly an hour, playing the newly-released EP in its entirety, mixed with songs off of its self-released 2012 album, Telephone.
First up was the first song from the EP, “Rocking Chair.” Knees started to bend and heads bobbed in the crowd of more than 100 people as soon as fans recognized Rob Grote and Mark Larson’s twinkly guitar notes. As Grote thanked the audience for coming out, he moved onto “Call Box,” “Lyla,” “4 & 4″ and the harmonizing-tune ”Stay Open.” The band went from song-to-song flawlessly, sounding just as pristine as their recordings while giving the same energy as any live show.
“Long Distance” generated some of the most reaction, with the crowd singing along to the chorus and rocking out to the song’s 20-second breakdown, followed by the rest of the set which included “Peaches” – a preview of a new song to be released on an upcoming full-length album – and “Silver Couplets.”
Fans anticipated the performance of The Districts’ hit, “Funeral Beds,” and the band delivered. Generating well over 300,000 hits on the song’s HotBox Session, the crowd once again sung along and grooved to the foot-stomping beat.
January 28th was a big day for The Districts. In addition to the record release, the band also announced on its Facebook page that it will play the Boston Calling Festival in late May. Its next stop before embarking on a nationwide tour with White Denim will opening for one of their Philly favorites, Dr. Dog, this Friday at the Electric Factory.