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.
On the heels of a rocking Non-COMM performance, The Districts have premiered a video for their track “Rocking Chair.” Produced by Dog Days Films, the clip shows the band holding a mysterious map before following a poncho clad figure into the woods. He gathers the quartet around a cultish set-up of candles and passes around an ornate bottle to drink from, sending The Districts into a delirium as voodoo toy soldiers control their fate. Check out the video below and listen back to their Non-COMM set here. Continue reading →
“Thanks for always having our back, Philly,” Districts frontman Rob Grote mumbles into the mic. Their set has is about halfway finished, and even though the reception hall of the First Unitarian Church isn’t quite sold out, there’s very little free space in the basement – and it shows. Sweat and cheap beer pool on the floor, causing more than a few slips as the Districts rip into the back half of a set powered by churning guitars and heavy-handed riffs. Even though the bluesy four-piece hails from the pastoral Lancaster County, moving to Philadelphia has solidified their status as adopted hometown boys, and the sweltering crowd welcomed them home with open – and sweaty – arms.
Just back from a short headlining tour of the UK – and before that a longer tour in support of White Denim – the Districts have been having a busy 2014. With Shaky Knees and NonComm recently marked down in the history books, the band is beginning the summer festival circuit. With appearances scheduled for Sasquatch, Lollapalooza, Boston Calling, and of course our own XPoNential Music Festival, the band’s ferocious touring ethic appears to be paying its dividends.
Back in the Church, the boys tear through a tightly knit set marked by explosive energy. The mic and Grote are a pair of magnets; even though the force of his strumming and stomping may take him far, the kinetic power always reels him back in smoothly. The set is short on crowd interaction and banter but long on riffs, and that’s just the way that everyone likes it. Ripping through standout tracks “Lyla” and “Long Distance” from full-length album Telephone, the Districts had no trouble grabbing the assembly of fans by the collar. Interestingly skewed towards the younger demographic, the packed-in crowd made it evident that being a younger-aged band isn’t doing anything but helping to build a fan base which will last.
As the softer tones of “Funeral Beds” slowly built to the epic climax of the show, the crowd went word-for-word with Grote, revealing that there were very few casual, johnny-come-lately fans among them. Loyalty is a key theme of both the Districts songwriting and their relationship with fans – of both hometowns. Taking that trust literally, Grote followed the lead of the more rowdy fans, and briefly crowdsurfed out into midst of the chaos. Philly will always have The Districts’ backs, and always have them back again, whether the next time is a sweaty, crowded basement, or the larger clubs that they’re obviously headed towards.
After a full year of festival performances and a nationwide tour with White Denim, there’s still no stopping The Districts. Yesterday, they performed at WXPN’s NonCOMM, and tonight, they’ll headline an all ages show in the First Unitarian Church basement along with Clear Plastic Masks, Pine Barons and Fly Golden Eagle. The show starts at 8 p.m. and the $12 tickets can be purchased here or at the door.
The Districts followed up The Afghan Whigs’ formidable performance with a raucous set from start to finish upstairs. The Lititz, PA natives played a mix of tracks taken from both their eponymous 2014 Fat Possum debut EP and their self-released 2012 full-length The Telephone. There wasn’t a single static moment during the entire set, as frontman Rob Grote bounced around the stage with ever-increasing energy, somehow managing to find his way back to the mic just in time. The band strayed from the album cuts for just one song, placing the dreamier, post-rock undercurrents of “Chlorine” between “4×4” and dynamic single “Rocking Chair.” Grote pulled out the harmonica for closing track “Funeral Beds,” returning to the song that first put them on the map. Check out a photo recap below and listen back to the audio.
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 →