Wow. I really don’t know that there are any other words for it – wow wow wow. What a tremendous way to close this year’s XPoNential Music Festival: an outrageous, high-energy performance from the one and only Beck, with the stage being nicely set by the rousing rock anthems of Band of Horses and an intense performance from Central PA noisemakers The Districts. A triple-header that contained as much bottled-up energy as the rest of the weekend alone.
After the festival attendees were ushered from Wiggins Park to the Susquehanna Bank Center by Philly’s New Sound Brass Ensemble, The Districts took the stage shortly after 7 with an atmospheric and expressive performance of “Long Distance.” It was a bittersweet set for the guys, since it was the band’s last gig performing with founding guitarist Mark Larson. Continue reading →
Fresh off last night’s #XPNfest show at the Susquehanna Bank Center, you can listen to “Silver Couplets” by The Districts from a new four song live EP, being released on October 6th (Fat Possum). Continue reading →
There are few things that can be as debilitating for a young band as finding out that your tour van – including all of your gear inside and all of your tour earnings – was stolen right out from under your nose. That was The Districts’ now widely-known story in early June. But the Lititz-bred, Philly-based band was able to get by with a little help from their friends, even when they were nearly 900 miles away from home. Continue reading →
One of the first things that newcomers to Lititz / Philly rockers The Districts mention is their age. They’re young. They’re “just out of high school.” And it’s true: just about a year ago, the bandmates were at a serious life crossroads – start the higher education thing in the fall, or defer enrollment to do a full-on push for their music, which had serious momentum behind it.
Twelve months later, the band is at another crossroads, and announced via Facebook early this morning that guitarist Mark Larson will be leaving the band after their set next week at the XPoNential Music Festival.
It is with heavy hearts but high hopes that we announce our good friend Mark will be leaving us to pursue his college education in the fall. While we’re bummed to not be playing with him any longer, we’re excited to see what the future holds for both him and us. … We wish ya the best Mark, and thank you mucho, mucho for helping us get this far. We couldn’t have done the past five years without you. Good luck to you on the next chapter dawgy.
Larson’s shoes will be filled in by Pat Cassidy of the jangle-pop four-piece Keepers, and while Larson’s guitarmonies and sweet solos will be missed (seriously, for such a relaxed and jovial-looking guy, Larson could freaking demonically shred) Cassidy is a more than solid player in his own right. We join the band in welcoming him to the fold, and wishing Larson best of luck as he hits the books in September.
Certainly the plight of school versus creative output versus career isn’t rare. When they played an opening slot at The Electric Factory this spring, Philly pop punks Modern Baseball were lauded by Dan “Soupy” Campbell of headliners The Wonder Years for not throwing themselves full-on into the music industry grind just yet. The MoBo guys are finishing various degrees at Drexel University and Chestnut Hill College as their album You’re Gonna Miss It All builds in popularity and critical acclaim.
“Even with all that upward trajectory,” Campbell told the sold-out E Factory crowd, “They’ve got the smarts, and they’re heading back to Philly when tour is over to finish up school.”
More recently, Matthew Kerr – guitarist of local indie faves Family Vacation – announced his departure from the band to pursue his education career.
And while these life crossroads might be difficult and bittersweet, they are not fraught with finality in the least. The pendulum always swings the other way, and artists can just as easily go from bagging groceries part-time and / or teaching full-time to making one of the most talked-about records of a given year (see, for example, Elliott Sharp’s Clocked-In interview with Strand of Oaks).
So, as the band alluded to on Facebook, we’re excited for what Larson’s next chapter brings.
Togetherness and unity were certainly in the air pre-Independence Day when American Diamond Recordings hosted their first showcase at Boot & Saddle. The new Philly record label comprised of five local bands celebrated their out-coming with performances from each group, including The Levee Drivers, T.J. Kong & The Atomic Bomb, Ron Gallo, The Lawsuits, and a special set by a band who went by the moniker Eight Legged Prawn. The show was also a celebration of Marley McNamara’s birthday, and most figured out that Eight Legged Prawn was actually one of the bands she manages, The Districts.
It was easy to tell that these artists performing don’t just make music together, they are family.
Rain had just started to pour down as I walked up the steps of an apartment building just a few blocks South of Temple. The basement of this modest converted row home on Broad Street was to play host to a show that even I had no idea would be as incredible as it turned out to be. Hanging out with my friends in Sun Club while waiting for the other bands and more people to show up, the topic eventually turned towards the night’s bill. “Yeah, we’ve been on tour with The Sea Life for a week or so, and I guess there’s two locals,” Shane McCord says, “But then the one band is like going under a different name? I don’t know, they’re from Lancaster or something, someone said they’re getting too big and they wanted to play some smaller shows.” That’s when it hit me: The band unassumingly billed as “8 Legged Prawn” was actually our boys in The Districts.
It has to be fate that the last time I was writing about Maryland’s Sun Club, I envisioned them as a Baltimore parallel to the Districts. Seeing them back-to-back on the same bill – totally at random, and most likely unknown to each other – confirmed that they both share that same fiery youthful passion for making two very unique soundscapes.
The evening kicked off with the experimental rock sounds of New Unison, a recently formed Philly three-piece, playing one of their first shows out. Their mostly instrumental sound of trilling riffs laid over wah’d bass and frenzied drums was interesting in short bursts, and served as a pretty good opener for the few folks who had come early on a Wednesday night, getting people moving without needing to know any lyrics. After a quick teardown and setup, Washington DC’s The Sea Life dug into their set. The basement vibe was perfect for the fuzzy lo-fi sounds of The Sea Life. Songs moved fluidly from mellowed to rowdy, with soaring orchestral bridges. It’s hard to draw a direct comparison to any one band, but elements of Oberhoffer, Local Natives, and other bright young things mixed in.
Philly nu-punks Vivre Sa Vie came out next, and hit the ground running. Breaching the line between band and audience, frontman and lead guitarist Sam Roland would frequently jump in front of his mics stand during one of his rollicking licks, teeth gnashing at the audience. With only one song released, it’s hard to say both exactly what they sound like and how much potential they have, but their energy certainly fit right in with the theme of the night. My boys from Sun Club were up fourth, and brought their fierce summer sensations to the packed and sweaty basement. Even though most people probably didn’t know a word, nobody cared. With crowd friendly choruses full of yips and “Oh, oh!”s, it’s easy to catch the excitement from the Marylanders, and this basement show caught them in fine form. As the set got more energetic, the basement got rowdier, almost into a full-on mosh. With the lights completely off, it was hard to see (and impossible to photograph) their set, but easy to enjoy the energy which filled the space.
It’s hard to tell exactly how many people among the sixty or so people packed into the dark basement knew what band they were truly seeing, that night. As Rob Grote and crew set up and soundchecked briefly, the audience slowly filed back in from smoking on the porch or just getting a breath of fresh air. “Hey, we’re 8 Legged Prawn” Grote mumbled into the mic. Hearing a few laughs, it seems that at least some of us were on the inside of the joke. As the band worked through a rollicking and tight-knit set of favorites, those who knew sang along, and those who didn’t tried to get a closer look at the spectacle that is The Districts. Getting warmed up with the rising swell of “Rocking Chair”, the “ooohs” were a great tool with which to hook the crowd. As the night pressed on past midnight, the Districts were just getting started, and their set played like a “greatest hits” of their short discography. “Funeral Beds” “Long Distance” of course made appearances, and the wailing “Call Box” as well.
Walking away from the night extremely satisfied, the only question on my mind was how exactly was one supposed to know that it was a Districts secret show? For myself, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time; at the same show but to see a different band. If you’d like to see our friends in “8 Legged Prawn” (wink, wink) once again, they’ll be playing Boot & Saddle tonight as a part of the American Diamond Recordings Showcase, alongside Toy Soldier’s Ron Gallo, The Lawsuits and TJ Kong & The Atomic Bomb.
Last night Union Transfer was a filled with good vibes, good friends, and great music, all for an excellent cause. It was a benefit for Philadelphia Eagles player Connor Barwin’s Make the World Better Foundation. One day while riding his park through South Philly, Barwin came across a park at 28th and Tasker Streets that looked like it needed a big make-over and he decided to start this worthy foundation to raise money for it.
The evening started off with one of Connor’s favorite bands from Texas, The Tontons. Front the rock band is afro pop vocalist Asli Omar with rich and enticing vocals. They played their song “Lush” from a session they did with Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through. The Tontons were followed by the ever-so-always-all-the time-awesome The Districts who came home to Philly for a show after their tour across the country with Dr. Dog. The fiery foursome opened with “Lyla” and were constantly moving around the stage exuding tons of energy. Last but not least, a slight change from the prior crazy constant motions of The Districts, Kurt Vile & The Violators delivered a set of their psychedelic sounds. The crowd rejoiced when Connor Barwin returned to the stage to announce that over $120,000 was raised and would be donated to Ralph Brooks park.
Kurt Vile returns to his hometown tonight to play a benefit show for Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin’s Make The World Better foundation, with the proceeds going to revitalize the Ralph Brooks Parks in South Philly. Kurt & The Violators will be at Union Transfer along with The Districts and The Tontons. All proceeds from the concert will be matched by the Make the World Better foundation and all will be donated to the cause. For more information and tickets, visit the XPN Concert Calendar.
Blending together Brazilian and American roots, Minas cover a wide range of genres that are defined by the countries’ cultures. Formed by Orlando Haddad and Patricia King, Minas has been playing its Brazilian jazz-style for over two decades for audiences around the world. Minas will be playing tonight at World Cafe Live. Tickets and more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar.
XPN welcomes Australian roots and jam band John Butler Trio tonight with Allen Stone at River Stage at Great Plaza. The band is currently on tour to promote its latest album, Flesh and Blood. Check out the XPN Concert Calendar for tickets and more information.
Hip-hop artist Chill Moody will perform tonight at Hard Rock Cafe with fellow artist Aaron Camper. Philly is the first stop on the pair’s “Camp Moody” Summer Tour, which includes three other stops along the East Coast. Go to the XPN Concert Calendar for tickets and more information about the show.
While on tour this spring, XPN favorites The Districts recorded a session at the Daytrotter studio which you can now stream on their website. They recorded four tracks of which from their EP The Districts, released this winter on Fat Possum Records, and Daytrotter editor Sean Moeller wrote “The way that this band of teenagers from Lititz, Pennsylvania, makes music should never be messed with.”The guys from Lititz, PA will play #XPNFest on July 27th; tickets and information can be found here. Listen to The Districts’ Daytrotter session here.
To raise money and awareness for his Make The World Better foundation, Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Connor Barwin announced an inaugural benefit concert at Union Transfer on Friday, June 20th with The Tontons (from Houston, Texas), and local favorites The Districts and Kurt Vile and The Violators. MTWB is a non-profit founded by Barwin in 2013 and its mission is “dedicated to enriching the lives of our youth by providing safe and fun areas for artistic and athletic enjoyment.” Barwin writes on his website:
I believe that public parks are an essential part of any community, and that all children, regardless of neighborhood, deserve safe and clean facilities for athletic and artistic activities. It is our goal to work with the city of Philadelphia and the local communities to renovate courts, fields and parks, and to slowly but surely, Make The World Better.
Go here for tickets and more information about the benefit. The Districts recently played XPN’s NonCOMM; listen to their set here, and they’re appearing this Summer at the XPoNential Music Festival. The Tontons recently did an episode of Shaking Through; listen to the song they cut for the Weathevane Music project below.