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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Shonen Knife, Givers, Freedy Johnston, Pomegranates

Sure, it’s a bummer that both nights of Sigur Ros are sold out. But are you gonna go cry about it? No. You’re gonna rock, because it’s Sunday and that’s what it’s all about.

First off, you can fill that Icelandic gap with some Japanese pop-rock goodness from girl group legends Shonen Knife, playing with Chicago rockers White Mystery at the Levitt Pavilion Steelstacks in Bethlehem, PA. Through years of performing and several changes in line-up, the group has maintained and perfected a poppy DIY aesthete that is at once shiny and grungy. If ever there was pop-punk worth listening to, this is it. The show starts at 9 and tickets are available at the door. Below, watch the video for “Pop Tune,” the title track from Shonen Knife’s latest album.

Or if you’re not so hype on the rock tunes, try Louisiana art-folk outfit Givers. They’re playing Union Transfer with Jersey electro post-rock group Delicate Steve, who just released Positive Force, their sophomore album. The show starts at 8:30, with tickets available for $15 here. Below, watch Givers perform their song “Atlantic” from their new album In Light.

Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston will play a show tonight at World Cafe Live. He’ll bring out the chill acoustic tunes to whisk you away. The show starts at 8pm, and tickets are available for $16 presale here. Below, watch the video for Johnston’s 1994 song, “Bad Reputation.”

Finally, if all you’re looking for is a really good time, look no further than MilkBoy Philly where Cincinnati’s resident nice guys Pomegranates will bring out their feel-good indie art rock sounds for real. And it’s going to be great. They’re touring on the heels of their latest release, Heaven, and will take the stage along with fellow indie rockers Kitten and locals Prowler. Tickets to the 21+ show are available for $10 here; show starts at 8pm. Below, stream “Pass Away,” from Pomegranates’ new album Heaven.

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What’s happening at The Living Room at 35 East? We discussed the burgeoning venue with owner Laura Mann

The Living Room | photo courtesy of Laura Mann

In early 2018, The Living Room at 35 East opened on Ardmore’s Lancaster Avenue. Since that time, the intimate forty-seat venue has grown widely popular for its eclectic mix of events: rock shows, acoustic shows, classical and jazz performances, poetry readings, film screenings and more. Earlier this summer, Philadelphia Magazine named The Living Room the area’s Best Small Music Venue in its Best of 2019 issue. The venue has also recently announced a Grand Re-Opening on September 8th, new weekly hours and the opening of a new café.

To hear about the evolution that has been taking place at The Living Room in the past year, we spoke to the venue’s owner Laura Mann — who is also a singer-songwriter with an album release show at World Café Live coming up this October — and publicity director Fern Brodkin. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Continue reading →

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Saying Farewell to a Legendary East Coast Venue: After 35 years, Maxwell’s closes its doors

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The Bongos’ grand finale at Maxwell’s | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

A rousing cover of Big Star’s “Thank You Friends” was a sincere and apt final song for the occasion last Wednesday in Hoboken, N.J.

On July 31, Maxwell’s closed its doors for good after 35 years of intimate gigs with established and unknown bands of local and international pedigrees. A full house of 200 attendees packed the back room of the restaurant, bar, venue and nexus of alternative musicology for a double-bill curated with an air of history. The first band to ever play the venue, “a,” which had not played its songs since 1978, and The Bongos, a Hoboken band of the past (and the future). As there was a dream for a Hoboken of a time gone by, there is a wealth of evidence for the spirit of Maxwell’s to continue on in bands, other venues and the desires of the public for great music.

“In a lot of ways, Maxwell’s was to Hoboken what J.C. Dobbs on South Street in Philly used to be in the ‘80s and ‘90s and what Johnny Brenda’s is to Philly now — a center of a great local music scene that brought in emerging national bands,” WXPN program director Bruce Warren said. ”I saw one of the earlier Yo La Tengo Hanukkah shows, Freedy Johnston, the Bongos, fIREHOSE; I saw an insane Sonic Youth show there. I was also a fan of Bar/None Records, from Hoboken, which is still thriving, and if one of the bands on the label were playing, I’d go up.”

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Scott McCaughey performing with Dennis Diken with Bell Sound in August of 2010 | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Musicians also eagerly reminisced about their Maxwell’s experiences.

“The closing of Maxwell’s is sad, primarily because of all the essential rock ‘n’ roll memories it brings to me,” said Scott McCaughey, who played there with Young Fresh Fellows, The Minus 5 and The Baseball Project.

McCaughey cited performing “The Gorilla” on the bar, singing with Dennis Diken and Bell Sound, “any number of rabble-rousing Fleshtones shows and especially the many ridiculous Young Fresh Fellows nights, going back to our earliest days.”

Linda Pitmon, who plays drums behind McCaughey in The Baseball Project, said Maxwell’s shows were particularly memorable.

“As a performer I’m going to miss that little thrill I’ve always felt walking in to that small, square, unassuming but perfect rock room,” Pitmon said. “Maxwell’s gigs never cease to stand out in my mind. They don’t become subsumed into the blob of generic shows.”

Glenn Morrow, one of the founders of Bar/None Records and member of two bands that played on the last night of Maxwell’s – “a” and The Individuals – will miss Maxwell’s more as a member of the public than as a performer.

“I’m probably sadder as an audience member,” Morrow said. “I live four blocks away! Even more than being on stage, it was such a great place to see music. I saw so many great shows there: The Feelies, the Replacements, the Gun Club, Mission of Burma, Pylon, Husker Du, the dB’s, They Might Be Giants, Sonic Youth, Big Black, The Fleshtones, Ted Leo. The list is endless.” Continue reading →