The Baroness that headlined Union Transfer on Friday night did not look like one that survived a bus crash, or like one that endured a lengthy recovery involving extensive physical therapy, stitches, or the departure of their rhythm section. Sure, there were some slip-ups and equipment issues, but who cares?
The Sixth annual Zannie-Do Fest is, like its predecessors, dedicated to the memory of Philly belter Zan Gardner. Gardner put out one great solo album, 2004’s Here’s My Heart, and contributed to the live and recorded work of countless members of the local jazz and blues community. Beyond making music though, Gardner was a founding member of the Jazz Bridge non-profit that helps raise funds for Philly’s players in need. That same lot has been paying into Jazz Bridge’s coffers ever since Gardner died in an automobile accident six years ago and, in her memory, this year’s line-up is a particularly healthy one with Sister Blue, John Dichter and The Flashpoints heading up the pack. Zan would have approved
Fri., May 24, 8 p.m., $10-$15, Mermaid Inn, 7673 Germantown Ave., 215-247-9797, jazzbridge.org.
Prince Royce — the Bachata king of the Bronx — has made some serious moves since 2012. With only two albums and a handful of singles (“Corazon Sin Cara,” “Las Cosas Pequeñas” and “Incondicional” among them), he’s managed to release a greatest hits album (#1s) and an R&B album to go with his all-Spanish first effort — not to mention a BMI Latin Songwriter of the Year honor and a brand new deal where he’ll record Spanish-language Bachata albums through Sony Music Latin and English-language pop albums through RCA. Such is the power of this Prince, a 24 year old that Philly got up-close-and-personal with when he played Made in America last year.
Sat., May 25, 7 p.m., $32.50, $35, Festival Pier, Columbus Boulevard and Spring Garden Street, 800-745-3000, ticketmaster.com.
We always get a ton of stuff that doesn't make it into the official agenda for one reason or another. Or sometimes it does! Anyway, this is some of the stuff that CP staffers are attempting to get to this weekend their own selves. You have no excuse for boredom.
- Charles Bradley — the Screaming Eagle of Soul — plays Union Transfer tonight.
- If you have kids, you're probably trying to decide whether you want them to read. The Mount Airy Kids' Literary Festival at Blue Marble Books should help you out.
- Drummer G. Calvin Weston — you may recall him from the cover of City Paper back in October — presents Treasures Of The Spirit: The Music Of Mahavishnu Orchestra at The Kennett Flash in Kennett Square, PA.
- Chaz is still Unloved. He plays The North Star. Aw.
- Some people are excited about Gold Panda at Johnny Brenda's.
- Live graffiti and sticker art upstairs at Tattoed Mom? Better lay down some tarps, Sideshow 3.
- Ross Bellenoit gets his Quartet back together tonight at Fergie's.
- It's the second night of Jeff the Brotherhood at Kung Fu Necktie!
- Fancy-feeling people can get suited up for the new Barnes' first birthday.
- Aux and LadyFest are hosting a screening of Watermelon Woman, the first full-length film shot by an African-American lesbian, and also a pretty great time warp to '90s Philly.
- Artist Peter Quinn wants to draw 12,000 chalk body outlines on JFK Blvd. and he would like your help. It's an anti-gun violence installation called "American Casualties: A Drawing."
- Azar Lawrence at the Ethical Society, or A$ap Ferg at the TLA?
- It's the first day of the Punk Rock Flea Market.
- The 12th Annual East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention. Lots of signings, workshops, panels and such at the Enterprise Center in West Philly. Wonder if our old Milestone comics are worth something.
- We assume you already know about the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby and Trenton Avenue Arts Fest.
- End the Fed people will be out there doing their thing.
- Spaceship Aloha lands at Johnny Brenda's. You should investigate.
- Pop vocals with weird harmonies at The Sea Around Us at Ortlieb's.
- Philly Songwriters Project 2013 Contest Finals Showcase. That's a mouthful. And it's at the Blockley.
- Punk Rock Flea Market day 2.
- Calvin Johnson at Space 1026. (Not the Megatron one.)
- Haydn's The Creation oratorio in West Philly. (Technically true because: One CP editor and one CP writer are singing in it, and so will definitely be there. But we would have tried to go even if that were not true because the soloists are totally baller and anyway what the hell this is just a blog post. Consider this your disclosure.)
Many aspects of MS MR's backstory have a distinct quality of deja vu — or, less charitably, done-to-death — they're based in Brooklyn, they built up blogosphere buzz via an artfully curated web presence (specifically — and this is ostensibly a point of distinction — on tumblr), and until relatively recently they upheld their blankly anonymous-sounding moniker by maintaining actual anonymity.
Their unabashedly huge-sounding, lavishly theatrical debut album, the aptly titled Secondhand Rapture (IAMSOUND), expands the picture somewhat, even as it conveniently recycles most of their tumblr hits.
It's not hard to find reference points for their style of darkly anthemic pomp-pop either — Florence + the Machine, Bats for Lashes and former tour partners Marina and the Diamonds are maybe the most obvious go-tos — but (MR) Max Hershenow's adventurous, widescreen production style and (MS) Lizzy Plaplinger's legitimately spellbinding alto are strong and distinctive enough to stand alone, particularly with a strong and infectious batch of songs that veer from martial trip-hop ("Hurricane") and thunderous orchestral rock-soul ("Bones") to stately classicism and the self-explanatory (but still intriguing) "Dark Doo Wop."
TONIGHT: Thu., May 16, 9:15 p.m., $12, with Magic Man, Johnny Brenda’s, Frankford & Girard aves., 215-739-9684, johnnybrendas.com.
Forget all the cult of dubstep schisms, purity debates, and heresy hunts. Call him post-dubstep (already?) if you get off on taxonomy. Whatever. But James Blake has an old-fashioned secret — he gets over on his voice.
The lone sign of organic life in a soundscape of programmed, layered, vocodered, synthesized, and looped machines, Blake’s voice is shockingly sensual in live performance, with a clear falsetto and lower register that garnered screams of delight from the audience. It even had a visible Sade effect, as couples throughout the floor decided that the sold out TLA wasn’t already hot enough.
This is not to entirely detach him from his EDM roots. On the second half of “Digital Lion” and on songs like “Voyeur,” he vibed out to his own stuff as the crowd went from bass led head bob to move your ass rave. And drummer Ben Assiter is wonderful at giving percussive force to Blake’s downtempo cuts.
But it’s the voice that sticks, makes the ladies swoon and guys shake their head in appreciation, leaves you cooing the hummed refrain of “Retrograde” four hours later at 3 a.m. in your friend’s living room. By the time he encored with “The Wilhelm Scream” I was thinking, alienated neo-soul nothing. Babies might be conceived to this.
Duly noted singer-songwriter street cred — Blake finished his encore alone on keyboard with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” “Go to him, stay with him if you can, but be prepared to bleed.”
Is Marnie Stern the awesomest live guitarist out there right now?
A couple of songs into his set, Danny Brown — Sideshow Bob afro already dripping from sweat and bottled water — stood center stage and declared in his inimitable voice, “This is not a rap show. If you came to hear rap, you can put your backpack on and go to the coffee shop to hear some rap music.” The crowd screamed its approval and laughed. They get his jokes, and he’s funny as shit. Funnier actually, since the scatological has its limits. So he does one better and goes for broke by matching the eschatological (personal of course) and hedonistic, becoming about as funny and smart as any music can be.
Were The Breeders your favorite band of the ’90s? Well, maybe they should've been. In town to play their 1993 classic album Last Splash from start to finish, Kim Deal and co. reminded everybody they've got more gears than most of their old alt-rock (did I just write that?) peers. Fast, slow, loud, soft, pretty, brutal, precise, chaotic — these songs are an emotional tilt-a-whirl. In fact, while it was a solid thrill to hear "Cannonball" live once more, "Divine Hammer" and "I Just Wanna Get Along" rocked the crowd most thoroughly. The prettiest moment was surely "Do You Love Me Now" — just gorgeous as all hell.
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