Philly Music 101 is our regular series guiding you through the wonderful world of the Philadelphia music scene: all of its passionate, loving participants, from artists to venues to studios and more.
The complex web of artist that make up Philadelphia’s amazing music scene can be difficult to categorize. Ask any musician, and they probably won’t want to be pigeonholed as purveyors of any single type of music, but sometimes genre communities are an easy step towards understanding and digging deeper into the well-rounded scene that we have today. With that in mind, Philly Music 101 is going to occasionally bring you genre spotlights – with the understanding that labels are of course limiting, and most of our fave musicians work outside the box.
The first segment of our genre spotlight will focus on Philly’s flourishing modern and alternative rock scene that has seen musicians advance their way from rock bar stages to major venues to the pages of Rolling Stone. Continue reading →
About eight months ago, Wesley Bunch packed his bags in Virginia Beach and headed to Philly, only knowing a handful of people in the area. Performing under the moniker Suburban Living, Bunch left behind his hometown, but quickly connected with prominent local talent, landing him his first Philly show alongside CRUISR and Dream Safari.
“It’s been a total whirlwind,” Bunch said. “I’ve really fallen in love with the city and everything it has to offer.”
Suburban Living’s standout dream pop sound has us feeling lucky to have Bunch around. And with an upcoming residency at Bourbon & Branch, Suburban Living will play alongside local artists throughout April.
“The city is full of awesome musicians,” Bunch said. “I feel super lucky being able to curate all these upcoming shows.”
Here’s a rundown of each week’s lineup, with snippets of Bunch’s commentary on why he picked these openers. Continue reading →
The video blowout started around 10 this morning and continued hourly until the final video from Vita and the Woolf was released at 2. Along the way we heard Ali Wadsworth’s power-packed vocals covering The Districts’ “Stay Open,” with local rockers Satellite Hearts acting as her backing trio. Her own take is just as driven and distinct as The Districts’ singer, Rob Grote, and Sattelite Hearts accompanies with their own harmonies as well. Continue reading →
TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb this week announced via Facebook the performers for their 5th annual Halloween Murdershow and its quite the lineup. Featuring a full list of Philly locals and such a large array of genres, from TJ Kong & the Atomic Bomb’s folk tunes to Lantern‘s distortion-infused rock to Tutlie‘s imaginative, surreal indie music, the eclectic sounds of this show are sure to attract a crowd. Continue reading →
Okay, so obviously Made in America is today, but not everybody has tickets to that. So as far as OTHER concerts to check out, Trombone Shorty is a good one. A ridiculously talented trombone and trumpet player from New Orleans, Shortly writes music that can really be defined in about a billion different genres, including rap, funk, jazz, and rock. You can buy tickets to his show here. Check out the video below of the band performing in New Orleans, which, by the way, will blow your freaking mind. Continue reading →
Philly local baroque-pop band Tutlie recently released their debut album,Young Cries. The band was formed by lead vocalist Jessie Radlow in 2010 while attending college in West Chester. Continue reading →
Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
Philly-born, Cali-based rock n’ rollers Cheers Elephant headlines Union Transfer tonight with Toy Soldiers, who are playing their farewell show. Self-described as a “Chew it up, Spit it out, Rock and Roll” type of band, Cheers Elephant relocated from Philadelphia to Southern California late last year. Read their impressions of their new digs in Maura Filoromo’s interview here, check out the music video for “Doin’ It, Right” below and find more information and tickets on the XPN Concert Calendar.
If you’ve ever gone to a concert, you’ve no doubt heard clapping.
I’m not talking about the kind that comes at the end of a song, but the kind that comes during – an audience fervently clapping along to the beat. Happens pretty regularly, right? How about this: when was the last time you heard an audience keep those claps up beyond the first verse? Usually once the beat kicks in or the refrain come around, the hands fall and the crowd just sways or stands there. It makes sense; your fingers start to sting, or your arms start to ache, or you start to feel self-conscious when you realize how many people around you are no longer doing it. Maybe a handful of times a year, at concerts with a really devoted fan base, do I see the clap-percussion continue into the middle of a song, and even then it peters out.
Taking it a step further: have you ever heard an artist get their audience clapping along to a song, and continue clapping for the entire thing – verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / chorus / coda? I’ve been going to concerts for 20 years and had never seen this phenomenon occur prior to last night, when Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf played a solo set at Ortlieb’s.
To give a bit of context: the eclectic art-pop tones of Vita have captured our collective ear over here at WXPN, and for good reason. The band’s first single “Mary” is a rousing anthem that fills a void Florence and the Machine left in my listening habits. Stopping right there, let’s acknowledge that Pague probably gets this comparison all the time, is probably sick of it and possibly not even directly influenced by FloMac – but as a singer, she is undeniably strong and dynamic, a personality that is not timid in the least. Woman knows how to sing out, and sing out she does, whether backed by intricate and imaginative musical layers on the forthcoming Fang Song EP, or solo with a piano, as we saw her last night.
There’s more to Vita and the Woolf than the hyperdramatics that Florence Welch is known for, of course; the album (and her set) have more subdued moments that recall Beirut and Espers. Those songs are sweet, no doubt, but the ones that capture the energy of a room are the anthems. Which brings us to the clapping.
Pague launched into a solo piano of a song called “Mm Chka Mm” last night, and it was a rager. As the title alludes, this is a beat-oriented piece of music, and without her drummer, the song needed something driving it. So she urged the group of fans and friends clustered at the foot of the Ortlieb’s stage to give her a beat. They did. And the kept going. After the first refrain, I could hear that many clappers dropped off, and braced myself for the familiar pattern of trickle-off crowd participation. It didn’t happen. The claps swelled in volume again, dipped up and down but didn’t waver, even at their quietest.
By the time we passed the second refrain, I started thinking “Is this going to continue all the way to the end?” I don’t know how many people watching were conscious of what was happening – maybe this is an uber-nerdy thing of me to notice, and I thank you, dear reader, if you’ve stuck with me this far. But when we neared the home stretch, the thing that gave it that final push and momentum came from the unlikeliest of places: a surly and somewhat inebriated Ortlieb’s regular who had been heckling the entire show thus far, and made his way to the floor in front of the stage – stomping and clapping momentarily as the song concluded. Woah.
Lest the point get lost, I’ll reiterate: this was just Pague and a piano. When Vita plays a full-band show for its album release in September, I can’t even imagine how high the energy will be.
Joining this solo incarnation of Vita and the Woolf was Aphra, the mystical deep soul solo project of Tutlie’s Rebecca Way. She hasn’t performed under this name in over a year, and in that time has re-imagined its sound an evocative electronic outfit anchored by her rich and melodic voice. As a singer, Way is undeniably influenced by R&B. But there’s a dark undercurrent to her sound, a coldness echoed in drum machine beats and electronic textures, in the urgent floor-tom rhythms she hammered out with Tutlie bandmate Asher Brooks. Lorde or The xx might be easy parallels, in that her music definitely pop, but not necessarily happy pop. “I wrote this song when I was depressed,” Way said during one introduction. “Actually, I write most of my songs when I’m depressed.”
Don’t be fooled. Aphra is anything but a downer. Way uses her music as a means of quiet catharsis, but it’s transformative, whether we’re talking about her smiling quizzically as Brooks struts to a trumpet solo, or members of the crowd (including Pague) slow dancing on the floor to a blissful late-set melody. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.
Philly born and bred Tiani Victoria performs at the Theater of Living Arts tonight, not long after her XPN Studio Session this past week. Her vocal skills have made her an up and coming Philly performer you should look out for; check out some video from the session below, and get ticketing info for the all ages $29 concert here.