Archive: March, 2011
As far as hip-hop goes, this week was a solid one. Real solid. While I’ll have shots and news about Floetry’s Marsha Ambrosious hitting 32 Degrees for a CD release party in this week’s Icepack Illustrated, let’s start with the gents: Lupe Fiasco has been out and about on a pre-CD release tour for Lasers, which came out today (March 8). Lasers is a big deal since the guy that dropped the platinum selling The Cool was talking about retiring. Squash that Lupe. The last time I ran into him at The People Speak Howard Zinn History Channel event in University City in 2009, he was having second thoughts. Good thing. The single “Words I Never Said” is all over the socio-political landscape for its incisive language and the entirety of Lasers is red hot. Plus Philly is represented on the new CD with an appearance by John Legend so that works.
Wiz Kalifah held a listening party at Power 99's Xfinity Performance Theater the other day. If you don’t know Wiz, your windows and doors have been locked for a long time. He’s this week’s Rolling Stone cover face. You can go nowhere without hearing “The Race” and his album, Rolling Papers, is probably this year’s most anticipated CD since…. Lasers. Plus, his Philly connection is that he’s been working with Snoop Dogg on Doggumentary and that mess is being producerd by Philly hitmaker Scott Storch. Sing it.
As far as hip-hop goes – and it goes back – no one helped influence its movement more than the late choreographer Alvin Ailey and his principle dancer, Germantown’s Judith Jaminson who has been the artistic director of the Ailey company forever. She’s retiring from the post and held a happy performance and after party at the Academy of Music and its upstairs ballroom where Patti LaBelle, City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown (a one-time Philadanco dancer) State Sen. Vincent Hughes and his mom, Ann Hughes, attended. Mrs Hughes taught tap dance to Jamison who in turn taught the world. That’s how the cycle works.
Baring it all, or most of it at least, the Pretty Things Peep Show is taking the stage at North Star Bar to put on their vaudeville-style variety act featuring traditional pastie-clad dancers, as well as stunts worthy of a circus sideshow. Joining the critically-acclaimed act are a few local talents: the Philly Roller Girls are putting on a Psydde Delicious fashion show, and a guest appearance by Peek-A-Boo Revue will add local flavor to the night.
GoGo Amy, a burlesque dancer and CEO of Pretty Things Productions, says the performers’ talent is the heart and soul of the show; their smokin’ hot bods are just an added bonus.“Vaudeville is more about variety and wonder then just the bump and grind, although our show does have a good deal of that too,” she says.
Some of the wonder GoGo Amy is talking about is the sideshow element her performers bring to the stage. One member of the cast, Miss Heather Holliday, swallows swords and eats fire, and Lil' Miss Firefly is a little person who can walk on glass. The night’s MC is Donny Vomit, a seasoned veteran of all things freaky having worked for the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Times Square.
Racy but not raunchy, The Pretty Things Peepshow manages to shimmy towards a balance.
Wed. March 9, 8 p.m. $10 in advance, $12 at the door, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. 215-787-0488, prettythingsproductions.com.
I put my iPod on shuffle, and this is where it led me ...
1. "Time Served" by Dispatch
This live version of "Time Served" is rough in all the right ways. Dispatch’s protest songs are best heard in the raw with audience hoots punctuating Chad Stokes’s lyrics and guitar riffs. After a four-year hiatus, these guys are on the road this summer. Do yourself a favor and check them out.
2. "Undone (The Sweater Song)" by Weezer
This song may never get old. The chorus is repetitive and not particularly original, but dagnabbit I just can’t turn this song off. In my opinion, "Undone" is enjoyed most thoroughly when sung at the very top of your lungs in a car with the windows down.
3. "Only Ashes" by Something Corporate
I’m usually a little nostalgic when I turn on Something Corporate. This song is a throwback from high school and brings me back to a time when sappy lyrics sung by a boy behind a piano could mend my 17-year-old broken heart. I haven’t listened to this tune in a while, but I like to keep it on my playlist for old times sake.
4. "Sometimes" by Britney Spears
Once upon a time, Britney Spears was a wholesome and idyllic teen idol. She smiled sweetly as she belted out pre-packaged pop songs. Her prince charming was J.T. and together they lived happily ever after — until she fell prey to the Mouseketeer curse and went buck wild. The end. "Sometimes" is a candy-coated treat from Britney’s pre-cooterbearing days.
New York-based band, PC Worship — who played the SXSW Festival in 2010 — is coming to Kung Fu Necktie tonight (with Acid Kicks, Night Burger and Swimmers Ear). Their music has a nebulous cloud of descriptors including "Mushiest Punk in NYC," by the Village Voice, "woozy drunken psych pop" by Norman Records and "washed out psych-jazz", by the New York Press. To me, they're simply "stoner noise-rock." And they're playing tonight at 8 p.m. Cost is $5 at the door.
While we work on our new listings database, we want to continue keeping you informed about what's going on in the city. Today, Emad Khalil puts together a round-up of Action/Adventure and Museums/Exhibits events to keep you both active and artsy for the rest of the week.
➤ OWL PROWL Search for four species of owls native to our area and learn how to call them so you can hook up later. Hoot, hoot! Sat, March 12, 4-7 p.m., $9-$13, Peace Valley Nature Center, 170 North Cha p.m.an Rd, Doylestown, 215-345-7860.
➤ WALK ON THE WILD SIDE Venture through the Pennypacker Mills in search of birds. Sun, March 13, 1-4 p.m., FREE, Pennypacker Mills, 5 Haldeman Road, Schwenksville, 610-287-9349.
Museums and exhibits have varying schedules; please call for exact days, hours and prices.
The self proclaimed "blissed-out buzzsaw" girl group, the Dum Dum Girls, continued their recent success by headlining their first Philadelphia show in Fishtown this past Saturday. Half the fun of going to see live music is to see how the recordings translate to the stage. For most bands the transition usually means louder, faster, and with more fervor. The interesting thing about the Dum Dum Girls' performance is that the songs are not exclusively louder, faster, softer, or slower, but seem to change according to the song's strengths. Songs like "Hey Sis" and "It Only Takes" were enhanced by a shot of raw power whereas songs like "Take Care of My Baby" highlighted the tenderness that's often overlooked with this band. The girls ripped through the set full tracks off I Will Be, super new tracks off He Gets Me High, and a few older ones such as "Catholicked" seamlessly. The girls delivered the set with little to no interaction with the audience. This might sound like a criticism, but it actually fits with the bands personality and moody charisma. Bright red, purple and blue lights, tons of fog, the girl's signature black outfits and somewhat indifferent attitude put you in an environment that embodies a vintage rock 'n' roll aesthetic. Performance and atmosphere aren't everything, however. While the performance definitely did the songs justice, I think what's more important is that the Dum Dum Girls proved they're not a one-trick pony. Any lo-fi rock group has a bit more to prove these days because of the sheer amount of bands like this on the scene. And, especially when performing songs off the new EP, He Gets Me High, the girls prove they've avoided the pitfalls of fading into the feedback of the garage rock world by cultivating a sound that is very much their own.
I didn't know whether it was because mine was so horrid or that I had just taken an extremely hard midterm, but I was intent on throwing my friend a fabulous 21st birthday party. We decided to host the event at my place because it has the most room. I created the menu and the drink list with her favorite choices in mind and invited our dearest friends. The stage was set and although I over estimated my skills as a bartender — everyone said the drinks were too strong — we had a really good time counting down to her birthday at the stroke of midnight. The party ended around 3 a.m. when my iPod started repeating the same songs. I made sure everyone had a cab or designated driver to take them home before I passed out on my bed.
At noon the next day I had to clean the remnants of the previous night's fabulousness. I never understood how certain “house party phenomenons”, as I like to call them, occur. For example, cups and forks in the most random places, remote controls in the freezer and cake icing in the pots of my plants. Either way, my little game of hide 'n’ seek 'n’ clean absorbed most of my Saturday. I spent that night making outlines for a midterm test and answering phone calls from my girlfriends about the status of lost accessories.
Sunday, I missed home. I hadn't seen my family in a while and decided to take the drive to suburbia. I've always enjoyed long car rides, so the drive from Philly to Jerz was a relaxing one. My family was extra surprised to see me and it made me feel guilty that it had taken me so long to visit. My mother has this theory that since our family is so big — I am one out of five — that when one person leaves the dynamics shift. I think it's the opposite: the bigger the family the less you are missed. My siblings and I chipped in to make dinner that night and it felt really nice. Spring break, here I come.
MAN CAVE: Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of an everyday, pop culture-loving Philly dude.
On Friday I went to see Meg and Rob's final show, "Quality, Value, Convenience" at the Shubin Theatre. The Philly sketch duo had guests Bare Hug, the Feeko Brothers, and stand-up comedy from Aaron Hertzog (who didn't use a microphone in the small Shubin, and there was almost no difference). Meg and Rob incorporated a hilarious video series called "Goal Oriented Eagle". If you missed their last show, you can catch their next appearance at Helium on Tue. March 15 in Face Time w/ Chip Chantry.
Saturday, I saw the very sold out "Pretty Good Friends" with Eugene Mirman, Reggie Watts, Kumail Nanjiani and guests. Mirman drew huge laughs with his blown-up printouts of absurd Facebook ads, as well as original ones he created and claims to have paid the social network to run. He also brought a volunteer on stage and asked her about speed dating as an alien visiting planet earth (speaking through a vocal processor for effect).
Reggie Watts did a character that was basically a poorly informed, redneck and former lighting technician for Radiohead. This bit ended with a strange (and hilarious) song tribute to Thom Yorke through vocal loop and distortion processors. While I've gotten somewhat adept at explaining "why" things are funny, I have to admit, Watts had me completely stumped.
His semi-satirical over-modulated Radiohead-esque vocals echoed over one another, paired with absurd facial expressions and beat-box rhythms. I was howling the entire time. The second number was equally hysterics-inducing, and I can't even recall what it was, because his act is mind-erasingly insane.
When Watts finished, he brought the whole gang back up and they eased us back down to earth with a brief Q&A session. Before sending us home, Mirman had helpers hand out fake mustaches to everybody in the audience and took a group photo of us from the stage for his "Pretty Good Friends Tour" online scrapbook.
Limitless got its big Philly premier at The Rave in West Philly last night. The Greater Philly Film Office’s Sharon Pinkenson and the crew of Allied Advertising held one event from friends and fam, and one for press and others who worked on the Philly set. I’m not reviewing it so I won’t give you the full-on spiel but the shocker once called The Dark Fields was glossy psychedelic with a fantastic take to tell and a wry nicely surprising (but not shocking) ending. From Del Frisco’s to Union Trust, from Marathon to several street corners you recognize, Philly looks good. I didn’t stay for the Q&A but I caught Cooper as he was shuffling happily into The Rave’s screen number 3 with the same unshaven thing he held enthrall throughout Limitless. Carry on. See the film March 18.
Monday: Spooky and spectral, Esben And The Witch is one of the most appropriately-named bands to come along in quite some time. The trio’s debut, Violent Cries, has already garnered acclaim as a standout showcase of gloomy folk-pop. Those who have been recently wooed by groups like Bat For Lashes or Beach House should definitely set their ears to these brood-bearers, at least before they live up to the ‘next big thing’ tag that’s been justly affixed to them. w/ Wise Blood, Cough Cool & Hello From The Children Of Planet Earth DJs, 8 p.m., $8, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Tuesday: You like free? Free is good. A free show with Sic Alps is even better. The San Francisco fuzz-rockers have already done their part to spark the indie record biz by releasing material on a variety of small labels. It’s no wonder everyone wants a piece of these guys; each member has his own respectable roster of previous band experience. Bringing the well-seasoned skills of career musicians to a new project gives Sic Alps’ music a dynamic blend of old and new. w/ Magik Markers & Purling Hiss, 8 p.m., free, The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St., 215-573-3234.
Wednesday: Musical math time! Take three lead singers (John McCauley, Taylor Goldsmith and Matthew Vasquez) of three rootsy indie rock bands (Deer Tick, Dawes and Delta Spirit, respectively) and mix them together. A simple formula, for sure, but Middle Brother brings out the best from all three frontmen. Their self-titled debut plays like a song circle, with each singer taking turns in the spotlight. This show, which will also feature music from each member’s own group, will magnify that round-robin feel to excitingly massive proportions. w/ Deer Tick & Dawes, 8 p.m., $27, TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011.
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