Archive for the ‘Union Transfer’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 10, 2017] Dead Cross

I had heard that Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle and a million other projects) and Dave Lombardo (Slayer and other things) had formed a band and were touring.  I have wanted to see Slayer forever but never have.  I almost saw them last year but it sold out.  So, I kind of lost interest in seeing them.

And of course, Mike Patton is legendary and I’ve liked so much of what he’s done, but I’ve never seen him either.

I was curious what the album would be like and wasn’t entirely surprised to hear that it was basically a hardcore/speed metal album (10 songs in like 25 minutes).  Despite the two of them, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to go to a show like that (I don’t really relish getting in a full-sized mosh pit).  But the more I thought about it (and after reading about the opening band) I decided it would be worth going to.

I checked out their setlists online and saw that they basically played the whole album and a couple extra songs.  Which, by my calculation, would be about 40 minutes. (more…)


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[ATTENDED: September 10, 2017] Secret Chiefs 3

When I considered going to see Dead Cross, I wanted to know who was opening.  It was a band I’d never heard of: Secret Chiefs 3.  Turns out that the band was created by Trey Spruance, one of the founders of Mr. Bungle (and played with Faith No More).  And the description of the band sounded wonderfully unusual.  I listened to some stuff online, and that made me decide to check this show out.

Their music is a little hard to describe because there’s so much behind it, so I’m quoting from two sources here:

Jonathan Zwickel in 2004:

Spruance, Secret Chiefs 3’s chief composer and a former guitarist for Mr. Bungle, is a visionary madman capable of instilling both fear and respect in his listeners. Secret Chiefs 3 have existed in various incarnations over the course of the past eight years, and have served as the funnel for Spruance’s remarkably far-flung studies of the hermetic mysteries and musical traditions of unknown and underappreciated subgenres. Album titles like Grand Constitution and Bylaws and Book M hint at the music’s vaguely metaphysical bent. [The music is] an alchemical fusion of Morricone-esque cinematic grandeur, midnight surf guitar, traditional Middle Eastern rhythms and time signatures, demonic death metal, and electronic deviance that yields a work of undeniable force.

Whether or not Spruance and his Secret Chiefs 3 are the intermediaries between heaven and earth is, um, hard to say, but with Book of Horizons it seems they’re certainly communing with a power beyond the merely human. Virtuosity, paired with a fearless love of divergent styles and the humor and talent to skillfully, unmercifully mash them up, pushes [the music] into rarified heights.

And this fascinating bit of information from Wikipedia:

In 2007, it was announced Secret Chiefs 3 has always been a general name for seven different bands, each representing a different aspect of Spruance’s musical and philosophical interests. The seven bands are Electromagnetic Azoth, UR, Ishraqiyun, Traditionalists, Holy Vehm, FORMS, and NT Fan. Spruance has stated that the sound collages of Electromagnetic Azoth serve as the center of Secret Chiefs 3.



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[ATTENDED: August 26, 2017] Sheer Mag

A few months ago I had tickets to see Sheer Mag at the Unitarian Church.  I bought the tickets to see the band Marge who was opening–I had only seen one song of theirs in an earlier show and wanted to see more. Well, I wound up not going to that show.  Since then I’ve come to appreciate Sheer Mag a lot more.

So when I saw they were having a record release party at Union Transfer, I thought it was time to fix my missed opportunity.

My college aged self would have loved that I had gone to 3 album release parties in one season.  And my current self thinks it’s pretty cool, too.  But honestly there’s not much going on at these “parties.”  For this one, Sheer Mag didn’t even have CDs of the new record (vinyl only).  But I did get a cool poster, so that’s okay.

So while the “party” part of the night was a bit of a let down, the show certainly wasn’t.

Sheer Mag are unsigned (which I didn’t realize) but have huge buzz around them. They self released their new album (technically a debut since their previous release combined their three EPs).  They play a terrific swagger-filled hard rock (comparisons to many riff rock bands of the 70s abound).  And they are fronted by bad-ass singer Tina Halladay whose gritty voice sounds quite a bit like some of high-pitched male singers of the era. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 26, 2017] Purling Hiss

I know Purling Hiss from NPR’s All Songs Considered.  Last year they played the band’s “3000 AD” which I instantly fell in love with.  There was a cool shoegaze feel to it with a bunch of noisy elements that I really enjoyed.

I knew that the bulk of the band’s catalog was basically Mike Polizze making music for himself.  It was pretty noisy and abstract with lots of jam moments.  They are now a band–I’m not sure who the other two guys in the band were (based on the latest album, I’m assuming Ben Hart on drums and Dan Provenzano on bass)–and they have gotten more musical since then.  But thy are still noisy.  So I expected a lot of squalling feedback and pummeling sounds.

I was quite pleased with how melodic the band’s songs were (no idea what songs they played, but I assume most of it came from their newest album).  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 26, 2017] Haram

Haram (which mean “forbidden”) was the most buzzed about band at this show (even more so than Sheer Mag, if Sheer Mag is to believed).  Dark Thoughts and Sheer Mag said they were the most important band in punk right now. I have to assume it’s because they sing in Arabic, but their music is pretty great too.

I had listened to their bandcamp page.  They have a demo and a new EP out (a total of about 18 minutes of recorded music), so I knew what I was in for.  But I wasn’t expecting the amount of intensity that the singer brought to the show (although subsequent pictures of other shows tells me I should have).

I don’t know what songs they played, exactly, although I assume all of them.  The only song I can place is “Blood.”

Nader sings entirely in Arabic (including a number of really guttural vocalizations which could have been words or not).  And in between songs he spoke to us in Arabic.  Not an English word to be heard throughout their set.

It was pretty wild. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 26, 2017] Dark Thoughts

Dark Thoughts are a Philly band who play really melodic and fast punk.  They remind me (and a lot of other people) of the Ramones, but there’s a kind of British punk sound in the vocals and an overall poppiness that really belies their name (although their song titles are pretty nihilistic).

Dark Thoughts is Amy on bass, Daniel on Drums and Jim on guitar and vocals.  Their album (which you can hear on bandcamp) has 12 songs in 20 minutes (and a EP with about 6 more minutes of different takes of 4 of those songs).   They played for about 20 minutes and the whole crowd (especially me) was really into it.  I’m fairly certain if there had been more people there would have been a lot of slam dancing.  A few people tried to get something started but here just weren’t enough bodies.

Jim was a charming front man, making some jokes (while those two drink cider I’m going to stand here and do nothing) but also being sincere in his encouragement that we get involved in the J20 protest organization. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 11, 2017] The Districts

We had seen The Districts at XPN Fest in 2016.  Well, seen isn’t quite the right word.  We were very hot, the kids were wiped out, so we stood off to the side while The Districts rocked River Front Stage.  I was really impressed with what I heard (and could sorta see), so at one point I moved to the bleachers and watched a couple of songs.


About that show I had written:

It’s great finding a young band (they have two albums and a couple of EPs out)  who is really good and looks to have staying power.  I’d love to see them again in a club sometime.

One year later and the band was planning to release their third full length Popular Manipulations.  And release day also happened to be the night of their hometown show in Philly.

By the time the band came on, the crowd was ready to party.  And by the middle of the first song, the slam dancers shoved their way up front and pushed all of us spectators out of the way.  (more…)

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