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Wreckless Eric @ Ortleib’s.

October 27, 2014

WrecklessEricOrtliebs05Wreckless Eric returned to Philadelphia this weekend for the second time this year. He recalled his previous show – in June at The Tin Angel – as being fairly empty and rather annoying.

“It was a constant procession of old men with bad prostates going to the lavatory,” he said between songs during his set at Ortlieb’s on Saturday. “It fucking got on my nerves. Fucking depressing, it was.”

The former Stiff Records artist seemed especially surly on this visit despite the Northern Liberties bar being fairly packed (though it was still an older crowd). He didn’t have time to do soundcheck, so he just launched into his first track, “The Downside of Being a Fuck-Up.” And his old amplifier was giving him trouble.

“This is about the weirdest place,” he said of the club, where the stage faces a wall that is maybe six feet away. “It would take me years to get used to this place.”

He also made fun of the basement-level green room, where there’s a white pleather sofa that faces the restaurant supply shelves.

“It’s a wonderful view of 16 jars of maraschino cherries,” Eric remarked on stage. “And that couch is warm, comfortable and inviting … and covered in semen.”

The Brit who now lives in upstate New York played several of his old hits, like “Reconnez Cherie” and “Whole Wide World,” but also blended in his more recent music, like “Sysco Trucks.” Now on Fire Records, he’s already released two albums this year and a third is due out in December.

Despite his equipment problems, his guitar playing was outstanding, his attitude was fierce and the show was brief but really enjoyable.

Sylvan Esso @ Union Transfer.

October 27, 2014

sylvanesso_web (8 of 36)Text and images by Grace Dickinson.

Selling out a venue where they’d been an opening act just four months prior, Sylvan Esso quickly acknowledged how far they’d come in the season that followed.

“This is crazy,” said lead singer Amelia Meath to the packed crowd at Union Transfer on Friday night. “This is just crazy.”

Meath and bandmate Nick Sanborn released their first full-length album back in May and it appeared much of their audience has since learned all of the words. The crowd sang right along with the North Carolina band to hits like “Coffee” and “Play It Right” and maintained a continuous movement with the vivacious duo throughout.

Meath moved upstage as if her arms were wings flapping alongside her undulating chest. Throughout the entirety of the show, she maintained a contagious looseness to her movement, one that was easily desirable to try and replicate.

“I want to be her best friend,” yelled a girl to her friend as they both attempted to match the singer’s dance moves.

Sanborn waved his arms around too, following the beat of the band’s exploratory electronic pop. At one point, they both stopped and Meath gave a humbly warm thank you to those who helped put them where they are today.

“If you see a really handsome squirrel later, that’s our sound guy,” joked Meath after also thanking their band manager.

Sylvan Esso seemingly ended their set but the crowd stomped and cried for an encore.

“Quick spoiler alert – we already played all our party songs,” said Meath.

She then began singing a slower Sylvan Esso tune and then a cover from a band called Porches.

“You should check them out,” she said. “It’s Porches. spelled with a period. Imagine when you’re buying their record, you’re buying them breakfast. Because that’s what you’re doing.”

While this reality is one that Sylvan Esso can likely relate, it’s clear they’ve now surpassed that stage. The two will continue on to headline at places worldwide, set to perform at places like London’s Scala early next year.

WIN FREE TICKETS! See Samhain @ The Electric Factory on Wednesday.

October 24, 2014

Glenn Danzig‘s one-time side project, Samhain, will perform at the Electric Factory on Wednesday and we are giving away tickets to see the show.

If you want a pair of tickets to see the metal/punk legend and his bandmates – along with Goatwhore , Midnight and YDI, like us on facebook and email us at (give us your name and put “Samhain” in the subject line).

If you want to play it safe and get your own tickets, find details for the show here.

Bombay Bicycle Club @ Union Transfer.

October 24, 2014

BOMBAY42-1Text by Brianna Spause. Images by Mina Lee.

Charming old America has the British boys of Bombay Bicycle Club in its grip.

“I don’t even want to go home,” lead singer Jack Steadman said, looking awful cozy sitting cross-legged in the back of the band’s tour bus. “It’s been a really good tour.”

October was it for the band’s short North American tour where the set out to promote their newest album, So Long, See You Tomorrow, from coast to coast in just 24 days. Back again at Union Transfer after a recent visit in May, Bombay Bicycle Club packed the venue on Tuesday night.

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WIN FREE TICKETS! See RAC @ The TLA on Saturday.

October 23, 2014

Remix Artist Collective will perform at the TLA on Saturday and we are giving away tickets to see the show.

If you want a pair of tickets to see RAC with Penguin Prison and Speak, like us on facebook and email us at (give us your name and put “RAC” in the subject line).

If you want to play it safe and get your own tickets, find details for the show here.

Phantogram with Lia Ices @ Union Transfer.

October 22, 2014

phantogram15-1Text and images by Mina Lee.

Union Transfer was packed for Phantogram‘s second sold out show of the weekend on Sunday.

The crowd was warmed up by the dreamy, hypnotic sounds of Lia Ices. They swayed to her ethereal vocals, which were accompanied by feverish instrumentals from her two brothers. By the end of Lia Ices’ set, the diverse crowd was ready to dance and sweat it out to Phantogram‘s high-energy electronic rock sounds.

Phantogram‘s hits, like “Fall in Love” and “Blackout Days,” were performed before a trance-inducing light show. Surrounded by fog and mirrors, the act was flawlessly precise, successfully creating a memorable night for their fans.

Universal Schools: The Sound of Education.

October 21, 2014

Universal02Text and images by Laura Newberry.

The kindergarteners lay like planks on the carpeted floor of the darkened classroom. The first notes of Coldplay’s “Fix You” play as Kendra Balmer tells the kids to keep their hands to themselves. They’re inches away from one another.

Balmer, their teacher, directs a laser pointer at the ceiling. Each time the red dot hits one of the industrial box lights, the kids clap.

“When you try your best and you don’t succeed.”


“When you get what you want and not what you need.”


It’s hard to imagine 5-year-olds meditating– but that’s almost what it looks like they’re doing.

“I want them to feel comfortable here,” Balmer says of her pupils after they leave for the day. “They don’t have to think about anything else for 45 minutes except having fun, being in an environment where they aren’t judged.”

The kindergarten through sixth grade students who attend Universal Daroff Charter School are mostly black and 99 percent are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

That’s true across the board for the 11 charter schools run by Universal Companies, a community development organization founded by Philly music legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Kenny Gamble. Most of the companies’ schools were acquired within the past five years.

Despite Gamble’s background, the actual music programs for Universal Schools are still getting off the ground. That’s mainly due to a funding gap – an unfortunate reality many schools face, and made worse by the fact that charter schools receive only 75 percent of the funding that public schools do. Several of the schools were taken over by Universal in June 2013, so programs are being built from the ground up.

Read more…


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