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Archive for the ‘Philadelphia, PA’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 7, 2017] Mew [links to video shortly]

Back in 2005 or 2006, I read a review of Mew’s then new album And the Glass Handed Kites.  It was hailed as a minor masterpiece (and was also hailed as one of the worst album covers of the decade).  In addition to their complex melodies, what really won me over was singer Jonas Bjerre’s amazing soaring falsetto.

Mew is a Danish band and, remarkably, they have had the same lineup for almost their entire career (their guitarist Bo Madsen left in 2015).  So technically they are a three-piece, but live they were a five piece.

The best thing was how amazing Bjerre’s voice sounded–so much like the album, but even better.  And from the way he sang, it seemed effortless.

The band and venue were amazing and yet it was one of the less pleasant experiences I’ve had at a show.  Apparently Mew fans are all 6 foot 5.  And they are inclined to gather around the front of the stage essentially creating a six-foot barrier in front of the band.  That was bad, but what was worse was one of the die-hard fans.  I had heard a guy before  the show say that he thought there’s be 30 people at the show (there were maybe 150).  So did I. This is a pretty obscure band, and the fans are pretty intense.  So, the guy behind me sang along to every word.  Now I like this band but I don’t know every word–with Bjerre’s accent it’s not always apparent what he’s singing, anyhow.  But this guy knew every word and good for him.  But bad for the rest of us.  As I said, Bjerre’s voice is soaring and angelic.  And this guy’s was not.  Nor was it in tune.  And my was it ever loud.  At times he was just shouting (some of the vocals soar) in a way that sounded like he was just trying to drown out the band.  After he ruined my favorite song, “The Zookeeper’s Boy,” I had to leave my post in front and go further back (where more 6 foot people awaited but no one sang). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2017] Monakr

I had never been to The Foundry before. It is a small club (450 capacity) above The Fillmore in Philly. It’s a very nice place–couches, booths, a large bar and a really good sound system.

I had never heard of Monakr before this show.  They are a Chicago band, primarily synth.  I would have even said poppy, but there’s a few different sounds going on–some dance, some R&B and some alt music.

They played a short set (about 30 minutes) and it was all good.  The guys are all pretty good-looking, but that shouldn’t distract you.

Matthew Santos has a really powerful voice (he has the trappings of the pop star with the way he soars and sinks his high notes). And the way he moves his hands with the melody.  He also seemed very confident–well it turns out that he has sung on a Lupe Fiasco song and was nominated for two Grammies, so I guess that explains a lot. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 3, 2017] Porches

I’ve complained several times already about the trip to the Mann and while this one moved a little more smoothly, we were still pretty late.  We caught all of two songs from Porches.

I had heard of Porches when I saw that they were the opening slot for Belle & Sebastian and Andrew Bird, but I didn’t know much about them (I think I had them confused with about four other bands with similar names).

They are described as a synthpop band on Wikipedia, but as you can see from the photo, there’s more than synths. Lead Porch Aaron Maine was an amusing and engaged front man.  I enjoyed that when he introduced the final song he said, “I suppose this will be our last song,” or something else noncommittal.

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[ATTENDED: July 31, 2017] Animal Collective

The Mann Center is a gorgeous venue, but it’s a real hassle for us to get to–for a 7PM show it takes about 2 hours.  Which is absurd.  I swore we wouldn’t go back again, and then they announced Sigur Rós back in June and then Fleet Foxes and Belle and Sebastian this week.

So much for not going.

Well, this early show indeed meant that after two hours in the car we still missed at least one song from Animal Collective.

I’ve known about Animal Collective for a long time–they’re pretty legendary.  I’ve never really gotten into them, although they do have a few songs that I like.

They are a headlining band in their own right with their own dedicated fanbase–who were out in force, dancing everywhere during their set.  And checking recent setlists, it sounds like their shows are typically much longer than this one (about 70 minutes). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 22, 2017] Thurston Moore Group

I’ve loved Sonic Youth since the late 1980s.  And yet in all of those years I never saw them live.  Never!  So to make up for that, I quickly snatched up tickets for Thurston Moore’s show at Underground Arts (such a great intimate venue).  Inexplicably, I don’t  think the show sold out.

For this show his band consisted of Thurston on guitar and vocals, Steve Shelley on drums (1/2 of Sonic Youth right there), My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Googe (!) and maniac guitarist James Sedwards.

I had the impression that they would play most if not all of their new (fantastic) album Rock n Roll Consciousness.  And that was fine with me.  They did play the whole album, but not in order.

I was talking to the fans around me and we marveled at the lo-tech way their gear was set up–the bass was propped on the bass drum case, guitar amps were stacked on chairs.  And, everyone (except Thurston) came out to prep their own gear.

There were a couple lunatic bozos nearby who just screamed and shouted through the set, but it’s hard to overpower Thurston and Co.  One of these bozos took off his short and threw it on stage–it actually landed on Deb’s bass which I could see pissed her off.  After the song she threw it back into the crowd–it sailed right over my head. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 22, 2017] The Writhing Squares

I was unfamiliar with The Writhing Squares before this show, although apparently they have been making music for at least four years. And Thurston Moore claimed that they had the best band name he;s heard this year.

The Writhing Squares are a duo: Kevin Nickles: Saxophone, flute, voice, synthesizer, percussion and Daniel Provenzano: Bass, voice, synthesizer, percussion, drum machine.  I can’t get over how many duos there have been lately and just how good two people can sound (even if they’re not just playing acoustic guitars and harmonizing).
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[ATTENDED: June 24, 2017] Palm

I saw Palm open for Dilly Dally last year and I enjoyed their set a lot.  I instantly found their bandcamp site and downloaded Trading Basics (Ostrich Vacation is a bit more out there).  This show at PhilaMOCA was ostensibly an album release party for their new EP, Shadow Expert.  But when I asked the bassist if that meant the were going to throw confetti he just laughed.  Later Eve Alpert said she was really blown away that so many people came (it was sold out).  So it was cool to be at that show.

I was really excited to see them in such a small place and I planted myself right up front to watch what they were doing (those chords!).  After about four songs someone came thundering in from who knows where and started slam dancing (she was the only one), and I wound up pretty far back after that, which sucked.  It was also really really stupid hot in there, but Palm transcended the scene and played an awesome set.

They played most (but I don’t think all) of the new EP.  It even sounded like they may have thrown in some brand new songs too, but I’m not sure.  They started with “Walkie Talkie” and the opening strange chords and notes of the EP–it’s so interesting to watch them play this stuff.  And the fact that they are perfectly in sync and never miss a beat is just outstanding. (more…)

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