Text and images by Holli Stephens.
The masked electronic artist has done an ample amount of DJ sets in the past nationally and internationally. Catching him alongside live vocals and a drummer is both visually and aurally entrancing.
The audience was sparsely populated for Post Malone. As he exited the stage, the crowd seemed to come together in anticipation. The lights dimmed and a blue light cast down on the stage. Amongst the shouts of joy, Aaron Jerome, outfitted and a tribal mask covering the top of his face came into view.
An entourage of controllers surrounded Jerome as he and vocalist Tev’n started off the night with songs from his first self-titled album.
SBTRKT is meant to be heard live. He blends his songs together, throwing in jazzy beats and looping sultry vocals on top to create stunning segues into new songs. The drums add a certain realness to the atmosphere and the live vocals create an air of soulfulness. Together, they help foster the unique sound that Jerome is known for.
When the crowd heard the familiar, upbeat synth intro of “Pharaohs,” they went nuts.
Jerome then announced that he wanted to play some tracks off of his newer album, Wonder Where We Land, and introduced “Wonder Where We Land” as well as “NEW DORP. NEW YORK,” complete with the visuals of the music video.
After another insanely erratic transition, the drum beat of “Wildfire” snuck in, which sent the audience into a dancing frenzy.
SBTRKT left the stage for a brief moment and was called back by the audience with shouts of “One more song!”
“This is one of my favorites,” Jerome said softly after returning to the stage and dropping the trance-like beats from “Lantern.”
The audience then got the first listen of SBTRKT’s down-tempo cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes.”
“We haven’t played this one out yet,” Jerome told the audience. “But I’m a big fan of Radiohead.”
SBTRKT ended the night with “Trials of the Past” and “Right Thing To Do” and then Jerome thanked the crowd for their enthusiasm.
Communion Philly @ Milkboy with Dan Mangan, Jessica Hernandez, Pine Barons and Foxtrot & The Get Down.
Communion Philly, the local chapter of an international music organization that presents showcases of divergent bands in cities across the U.S. And U.K., lived up to its name at Milkboy last Wednesday night. There were bands from near and far, playing music fast and slow, to a crowd that was young and old. And almost all were drinking.
The night kicked off with a pair of local acts: First, Northeast Philly’s Foxtrot & The Get Down, followed by the cheekily-named South Jersey outfit Pine Barons. Intentional or not, it was a great way to set the schedule for the evening, as both bands brought a slew of enthusiastic fans that provided an atmosphere more suited for a Saturday night than mid-week rut.
A five-piece band that sports a pair of electric guitars, tambourine shaking, and alternating male and female vocals, Foxtrot kicked things off with a high-energy, bluesy rock set. The sound fell somewhere between the dirty blues of Little Hurricane and retro-rock of JD McPherson. Foxtrot hit their high note in the third song, “If I Had it My Way,” which featured pounding drums behind the slide-guitar work and growling vocals of frontman Colin Budny. The promising rockers also delivered a crowd-pleasing cover of the Gorillaz’ “Sunshine in a Bag,” with co-vocalist Erica Ruiz not missing a word on the rhymes.
Next up was the boys from South Jersey, Pine Barons. Sneaking in elements of psychedelia, particularly in the interludes, the four-piece band delivered a set that alternated pop-punk and jam sesh. At times, bits of surf rock even came through, which when combined with the four-part vocal harmonizing on a number of songs, actually did make it quite easy to imagine watching Pine Barons strum away by campfire down the shore.
Expanding the line-up’s geographic reach was Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas, a 6-piece rock & soul band from Detroit. Fronted by leadwoman Hernandez’ powerful vocals and backed by trombone and keys, in addition to the usual suspects, the high-energy outfit finally got the vanguard of the Milkboy dancing with a 10-song set. Inhibitions also seemed to give way during the set, with Hernandez ditching her pants’ suspenders (“I’m getting some crazy camel toe”) and receiving some booze (“Can somebody please get me a shot of Fireball?”).
True to the Communion spirit, members of all three bands became part of the audience during the closing set of Dan Mangan + Blackmsith. The Vancouver-based Mangan has been wowing our neighbors to the north as an indie-folk solo artist for more than a decade, but added three full-time band members (and the +Blacksmith) on his latest LP, Club Meds. Those gentleman backed Mangan’s throaty-vocals and acoustic strumming during their set Wednesday night, delivering a sound that will likely please fans of Bowerbirds and The Decemberists.
Upon completion of Mangan’s set, Milkboy-goers had been treated to more than three and half hours of high-energy music from across the continent, making June’s Communion showcase a steal of a night at $8 bucks.
We’re working with the folks at one of our favorite joints, Underground Arts, and we’ll be giving away a ton of tickets to their shows in the coming weeks.
If you want to play it safe and get your own tickets, find details for the show here.
Text and images by Evan Kaucher.
A tidal wave hit Union Transfer last weekend as the California based band FIDLAR (Fuck It Dog Life’s A Risk), slashed surf riffs into a sea of sweat-drenched fans.
Hitting nineteen cities on their Spring Break Tour, they cruised into Philly on the second to last stop with Metz, a noise rock band from Ontario.
Starting off the night was Philly locals Huth & McGuinness, which is Randy Huth & Sean McGuinness (members of Pissed Jeans) instrumental grunge side project. Combined with face melting guitar and grungy drums you could tell the duo were enjoying themselves as Sean ended the set flexing his muscles and taunting the crowd like a WWF wrestler.
Not knowing which band was next (they switched headliners on certain dates), it immediately became obvious when Zac Carper of FIDLAR came out looking like he just got done ripping lines at Huntington Beach.
Almost immediately they went into “Stoked and Broke,” a song with lyrics about skipping school, smoking weed and taking shitty pills. By the look of the crowd, it felt like everyone did all three.
As everyone got a grip back on reality, they went into the more mellow “Max Can’t Surf,” a song targeted at their drummer Max Kuehn’s horrible balancing skills. After ripping through “White on White,” a song with powerful guitar riffs and foot stomping drum rhythm, Zac took a second to dedicate the next song “No Waves.”
“This song is about rehab, and how much it sucks!” he announced.
The crowd exploded with copious amounts of energy as they belted out the lyrics, “I feel, feel like a cokehead.”
Zac then threw himself on the ground – which he did multiple times that night – and continued tearing through guitar riffs as the rest of the band played around him.
After getting his footing, the band went into “Cheap Beer.” A song about, well, cheap beer. This is one their more poplar songs with a very relatable chorus, “I DRINK CHEAP BEER SO WHAT FUCK YOU.” By the sound of it, everyone there shared the same love for PBR and Genesee.
Going through the set they also played two covers, one being “Undone-Sweater Song” by Weezer and the second being “Lodi” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Blazing through their self-titled album FIDLAR, they began throwing in some new ones off of their LP Too, which is set to release September 4th on the independent record label Mom + Pop. Out of the five new songs they played, the one that really stuck out was “40oz on Repeat,” which has more of a pop vibe. Since the show, they’ve actually released a music video for the song. The concept was based around making fun of old school music videos from Missy Elliot to Korn (when MTV actually played Music Videos).
Closing the set, Zac told the crowd to sit down and promised them, “You’ll know when to get up.”
It’s like they were hypnotized when they began playing dark guitar riffs mixed with blues finger picking. Any real fan knew shit was about to get weird because it was the opening to the song “Cocaine.”
On edge like runners at the starting block, the crowd bursted into a wave of complete chaos almost instantly when the three frontmen started screaming into the microphone: “You take Sally and I’ll take Sue, there ain’t no difference between the two,” the opening lyrics that actually come from Jackson Browne song “Cocaine,” released in 1977.
With adrenaline flowing (and possibly some recreational drugs), the fans erupted in complete synch when the chorus dropped “Cocaine running round in my, cocaine running round in my, cocaine running round in my brain!”
Fists were flying and crowd surfers were getting pitted, as the swell of the crowd got larger and larger. Eventually as the song/set drew to an end, the crowd dispersed like an inflatable pool being ripped, leaving nothing but random shoes and pieces of sweat drenched Hawaiian shirts.
This song has definitely hit home with not only FIDLAR fans, but also fans of Nick Offerman, the comedian and actor from Parks and Recreation. In the video he basically gets fired, drinks about four 40oz Mickey’s and pisses on pretty much everything.
Ending the night was METZ, whose sound isn’t like FIDLAR but definitely fits well on the lineup. With the addition of more grunge and heavier chords, there was no lack of energy on their end as they tore through riff after riff melting faces left and right.
As the concert transformed into a hardcore scene, the grunge punks emerged from the shadows flaunting shirts that said, “Nuke the Cross.” A few 300 pound bald men wearing jean shorts and combat boots stomped the floor in complete rage.
Spewing heavy bass lines and raunchy guitar chords from their new single “Acetate,” the two frontmen, Alex Edkins (guitar) and Chris Slorach (bass), slashed their instruments as sweat flew from their faces into the crowd.
With the release of their second album METZ II in May, the band has continued to keep the noise rock vibe while producing a sound that’s a lot tighter and cleaner.
The band continued throwing themselves to the back of the stage as the fog thickened and rays of light illuminated Alex tearing through the neck of his guitar. Then slowly as the set drew to an end, the last remaining survivors sluggishly applauded with whatever life they had left.
In retrospect, it felt like a house party with two bands that basically have the message of quit you job and say “fuck off” to the “man.”
Nestled at the base of a hill at the intersection of Winston Road and Mermaid Lane lies a quaint stone building that, if not for the simple sign hung just below the third floor window marked “Mermaid Inn,” would appear to be just another beautiful albeit unassuming house in the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill.
Without prior knowledge it might be easy for one to assume that the Mermaid Inn is a rustic bed and breakfast, or perhaps the cozy neighborhood bar.
While the latter might be an apt description, crossing through the bright red doors of the entrance on most nights of the week would have patrons finding themselves inside one of the Philadelphia folk music scene’s oldest and active homes.
Built in 1734, the building has been a staple of Chestnut Hill, serving as the inn and tavern that its name implies. If rumor is to be believed, the Mermaid was also frequented by some of the nation’s founding fathers and was a favorite Philadelphia drinking spot of George Washington. But what makes the Mermaid a special place in Philadelphia is not its list of famous patrons or the myriad ghost stories and hauntings throughout the years, but its status as an intimate music venue.
Come to the Mermaid on any Wednesday through Saturday night and you are bound to see a variety of bands and singer-songwriters performing anything from folk and bluegrass to classic rock, even the occasional jam band. However, one event is special for regulars – the open mic night held every second and fourth Tuesday since the 1980s.
“What I love about it is that it’s informal, you know?” says Mike McNichol, who runs the open mic events. “Anybody can do it.”
Dressed in a warm brown sweater and bearing an even warmer smile, McNichol has been running the program for the past decade, having taken over organizing duties from local singer-songwriter Tom Gala after Gala’s wife gave birth to twins.
Gala had been key in organizing and running the open mic night. Before finding a permanent home at the Mermaid, Gala’s open mic night was hosted at several different bars in the area including Mt. Airy’s Commodore Barry Club, Lafayette Hill’s Brittingham’s and Fairmount’s London Grill.
“It used to be called the Bothy Folk Club,” McNichol notes, and it served to incubate and promote the folk music talent in Philadelphia.
The name alludes to small, unlocked shelters found in the mountains of Ireland, Northern England and Scotland that were of free use for travelers in need. With a welcoming “come as you are” attitude, the Bothy Folk Club lived up to its name and continues this tradition presently, even though the name has changed.
“For a while there was nobody coming,” explains McNichol. “I think the name scared people away. So Joanne [Mekis, the owner] said, ‘Let’s call it an open mic and see what happens.’”
After the name change, attendance began to steadily increase until the number of people packed into the Mermaid was back to where they once were.
Yet even for its popularity with regulars, the long-standing open mic night is only a small portion of the live music programming at the Mermaid Inn. Except for Sunday, Monday and the sporadic weekday in which the inn is closed, there is always some performance taking place. Friday and Saturday night shows are routinely played to a packed house.
“Saturdays are our busy days,” says Joe Gray in between serving drinks and food to a crowded house on a chilly Saturday night.
Gray is the Mermaid Inn’s latest hire. He shares his bar and kitchen duties with longtime bartender Karen Guarino Spanton. As the duo sprints between customers posted around the bar and running to the kitchen to handle incoming food orders, it becomes clear that the weekend is the premier time to experience a night at the Mermaid Inn.
As many patrons settle in to catch the evening’s performer, others eagerly await their dinner from the inn’s small yet respectable menu of burgers, BLTs, broiled fish, salads and a changing list of freshly made soups.
“Everything we use [to make our food] is local,” says Spanton as she sets a BLT down in front of one hungry patron. “We buy all of our meat from the local butcher and all of our produce from local farms.”
As such, certain items on the menu rotate based on the availability of the necessary ingredients. But for the most part, the bar’s menu stays consistent. The only time major changes to the menu are seen is during certain holidays or special events.
“We had a special dessert for Valentine’s Day this year, “ details Gray, “an ice cream sundae for two.”
While the food and drink orders steadily come in, Gray notes that food is just a part of what makes the Mermaid Inn a special place.
“Food is pretty big here,” he explains,” but mostly people come here for the drinks and the live music.”
Almost on cue, the lights go down and everyone in the Mermaid Inn pauses their conversations to give their undivided attention to the evening’s headlining band.
Text and images by Tim Mulhern.
Friends, tourmates, fans and others packed the rafters of the stage at the First Unitarian Church on Saturday night to bid farewell to Glocca Morra.
Marge kicked things off early with a quick set of upbeat tunes reminiscent of a cross between Girlpool and Amanda X. Marge has been keeping busy lately. Saturday’s show was the band’s second in a stretch of three shows in six days.
Clique is quickly becoming a regular name on some of Philadelphia’s bigger shows. A few weeks ago, the band helped celebrate the release of Hop Along’s Painted Shut at Union Transfer. The band mixed three new tracks in with their well-polished set and invited Shannen Moser to join them on stage to provide backing vocals on their collaborative tracks.
New York’s LVL UP hit the stage shortly after, wrapping its three-show run with Glocca Morra. Keeping banter to a minimum, the group fired off track after track from September’s Hoodwink’d. The band managed to fit two new tracks into the set, announcing they would appear on a 7-inch to be released later this year.
Toronto’s Greys joined Glocca Morra for the entire tour and prepped the audience with a loud and gritty set. The group shared the story of the first time they met Glocca Morra and expressed their admiration for their tourmates.
After a brief false start, Glocca Morra launched into what would become a long, sweaty and memorable final performance. The audience kept the stagehands busy, as stage divers and crowd surfers came pouring over the monitors at the front of the stage.
The career-spanning set was highlighted by cuts from Ghoul Intentions and Just Married. The emotional night was made even more memorable when drummer Arik Dayan’s now-fiancée proposed to him on stage.
Amidst the celebration of the engagement and the realization that Glocca Morra’s time as a band was coming to a close, the band tore through a celebratory take on “Y’all Boots, Hats (Die Angry).”
The last time I saw Porches and Frankie Cosmos live was at a late-night show in a living room in West Philly with the singers from both bands performing acoustically and solo. The room was small, but the crowd was large and attentive.
Last Wednesday night at PhilaMOCA, Aaron Maine of Porches and Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos brought their full bands with them but not much else changed. The room was bigger but could barely contain the sweat-soaked crowd that clung to every word sung by Maine and Kline.
Power Animal kicked things off in a fashion unlike the bands that would follow their performance. Although only one member – Keith Hampson – is listed on Power Animal’s Facebook page, a female vocalist and instrumentalist joined Hampson on stage.
The duo worked from a shared station of drum machines, microphones and other equipment to create glitchy, up-tempo beats. Although Power Animal’s sound is largely different than those of Porches and Frankie Cosmos, the audience was enraptured by the performance.
Kline and her band quickly set up their gear as the crowd filled out and waited in anticipation.
The singer/guitarist has a knack for writing songs that put a spotlight on everyday occurrences. Throughout the set, she sang about getting older, going on tour and kissing on the lips in a tone barely above a whisper. The simplicity of the songs made the band’s performance intimate and captured the audience’s attention.
Anchored by Maine on drums, Gabrielle Smith (of Eskimeaux) on keys and David Maine on bass, the band breezed through a set of short and sweet tracks both old and new.
With no introduction, Porches opened their set with a version of “Franklin the Flirt” noticeably faster than the one found on 2013’s Slow Dance in the Cosmos as an episode of Bob Ross’ The Joy Of Painting played on the projector screen behind the band.
The band worked through a tight set, leaning heavily on cuts from Slow Dance and new, unreleased tracks that reveal a funkier side of the band’s sound.
Porches wrapped the set with three highlights from Slow Dance. As the last notes of closer “Skinny Trees” rang out, the credits of The Joy Of Painting started rolling: a subtle conclusion to a well-polished set.