Archive: February, 2013
There’s word going around the East Passyunk Ave. community that some of its fathers are considering buying up a part of the block of Broad Street immediately off Passyunk (the old Lubelles, the dollar store, etc.) for a large-scale parking garage. That’ll be perfect for what they hope is the bourgeoning rush of Yunk patrons.
Dr. Noel Zayas and Bruce Welk have been doing their gay-ish “SuperStar” party at Devotion (the old Shampoo space) for the last several weeks. No one has had too much to say about those gigs one way or another. That may very well change come March 23 when the promoting pair host the Shut Up & Dance SuperStar after party at the Ritz Carlton. Bet they don’t go back to Devooo after that.
Some of your old friends in Philly have new jobs that will keep them in town and in our face. Bright-and-boldly red-headed Gigi Lamm, a directress of publicity at the Philadelphia Museum of Art joins Running Press Publishers as their senior publicist next week. She’ll duck out right after the “Great and Mighty Things” outsider exhibition opens. There are also hirings going on at the newly-purchased Prince Music Theater as its owners (Herb Lotman’s 1412 Chestnut Street Corp. team of investors) just brought on one-time Mann Music Center magnate James E. Hines as the Prince’s new director.
In the dozen years since they first emerged as a brooding, expansive, 10-piece symphonics-plus-electronics post-rock ensemble, Copenhagen’s Efterklang have slowly undergone a curious evolution, contracting in size and sound enough to resemble a more pedestrian atmospheric indie-rock band, but without fully losing the evocative majesty that earned them those early Sigur Rós comparisons. While last year’s Piramida (4AD) still boasted a robust roster of contributors (including the Andromeda Mega Express Orchestra and the South Denmark Girls Choir), they’re officially down to a trio, with vocalist Casper Clausen’s burnished croon (a less melodramatic echo of Tindersticks frontman Stuart Staples’ eternal baritone) now forming the clear focal point to their compositions. And despite taking inspiration (and field recorded ambience) from a visit to the Arctic Circle ghost town that provided the album’s title, these compact, sound-stuffed fantasias tend to evoke wistful domestic tranquility rather than your typical resplendent Nordic mountainscapes. Call it Danish Modern chamber pop; in this case, it feels like it could actually fit inside a chamber.
Wed., Feb. 27, 9:15 p.m., $12-$14, with Jherek Bishoff, Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684, johnnybrendas.com.
After making copy editors and headline writers groan for years, the artist formerly known as the "Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe" — a moniker that resulted from the arts-festival equivalent of a couple getting married but wanting to keep their last names — just announced that it is cutting nearly 40 characters from its name (even the space!) and will now be known as just FringeArts.
They announced this at the groundbreaking of the (at the moment, very cold) new building that'll serve as a year-round HQ for the organization at Race and Columbus, right next to the Ben Franklin Bridge. (That honestly made us wonder a little — a NJ Transit train rumbled by during one of the speeches, and it was ... loud enough that you couldn't hear the speaker, who had a mic.)
But the space looks like it's going to be pretty great — it's huge, and will have a bar and restaurant, and as part of the city's ongoing efforts to make the waterfront not suck, it'll have bathrooms open to the public year-round.
We got a little flutter at something buried in the middle of the release in the "About the New Space" section describing the 240-seat theater space:
The theater will be designed to embrace a full range of performances, from shows like a reimagined Twelfth Night, or What You Will by Philadelphia's Pig Iron Theatre Company ...
That definitely sounded like one of our favorite festival shows ever was getting a revival. Sadly, when we made inquiries, it sounds more like that was being used as an example of a show that might have been put on there if it had existed in 2011, though Pig Iron willl be putting on stuff year-round. Way to get our hopes up, FringeArts.
There are many reasons for EDM’s popularity, some musical, some attributable to assorted cults of personalities. No matter who came before or after, one of the genre’s most consistently prominent faces (or at least its hands) is Tiësto. The Netherlands-raised DJ/producer won acclaim first in the mid-’90s for doing impossibly lengthy trance sets. Before settling into the 21st century, he experimented with commercial sounds and vocalists as diverse as Sarah McLachlan and Ferry Corsten, released his first artist-solo album, In My Memory, and recorded the electronic heartbeat that became the 2004 Olympic Games’ soundtrack. Since then, Tiësto has launched a successful series of mixed CDs — Club Life — and made DJ residencies at hotel casinos de rigueur for dance music top’s names.
Sat., Feb. 23, 7 p.m., $30-$49, Liacouras Center, Temple University, 1776 N. Broad St., 800-298-4200, liacourascenter.com.
A quick primer:
- “Emo” isn’t really a bad word, despite what the last 10 years of Fueled By Ramen and Fearless Records rosters have led many to believe.
- A lot of young bands in the Midwest and East Coast have been turning heads with fresh takes on the ’90s emo subgenre. Call it a comeback, maybe. I’m not sure yet.
- Doylestown’s Balance and Composure doesn’t exactly fall in line with their peers sonically, but their broad amalgamation of influences from the past two decades secures them as one of the more fascinating among said bands.
Thursday night’s show at Union Transfer, a homecoming for the five-piece, was also their largest headlining date in Philadelphia. Nearing the end of an almost month long tour with support from The Jealous Sound and Daylight, B&C came off as understandably battered. “I’m a little under the weather tonight,” vocalist and guitarist Jon Simmons confessed to the nearly sold out venue a third of the way through their set. It didn’t show at first, as the band tore apart tracks from 2011’s Separation, their split with Scranton-ites Tigers Jaw, and their Only Boundaries EP. They also snuck in a new song from an upcoming split with Braid.
Balance and Composure’s sound is an exercise in control and release, evidenced through their set in songs like “Burden,” “Show Your Face,” and “Quake.” It’s super heavy stuff except when it’s not, with songs often turning on a dime into shoegaze and post-rock territories (see: “Stonehands”). The lava lamp-esque projection behind the band was a nice touch that added to their ‘lock-yourself-in-your-bedroom’ aesthetic.
While Simmons’ performance and Jeff Mangum-reminiscent voice not so slowly depreciated through the night, the rest of the band managed to hold it all together. Drummer Bailey Van Ellis —whom my friend Julie kept reminding me between songs, was “really good” —adds a tribal fervor to Balance and Composure that translates strongly live.
But, man, poor Simmons. He was really toughing it out towards the end, even tagging in a couple friends for mic duties during parts of “Patience” and the incendiary closer “I Tore You Apart In My Head.” His best vocal delivery, however, came midway through the show, in a line from the pensive “Echo” that sums up the band’s pathos and lyrical nudity: “And I’ve been great these last few days / But, oh my God, who gives a shit anyways?”
Bob Merz — the guy who saw to it that Philly's adopted gospel-blues-rock saint Sister Rosetta Tharpe finally got a gravestone at Northwood Cemetery — tipped me off to tonight's special on Tharpe on PBS. Tharpe was the total package: booming soul voice, killer guitar skills, charisma for miles. In short: She's somebody everybody aroud here should know about. Here's the press release for tonight's show. Set your DVRs.
It's also online, because we're not insane. Here's what's in it:
Moosh and Twist can’t be shut down! A young hip-hop duo is earning some rabid (and drunk) fans.
Tom Keifer rocks a new Cinderella story! And damn if he doesn't look like Alan Rickman these days.
Anthony Tidd is on a mission! The Kimmel's resident saxman has worked with The Roots, Pink and Macy Gray.
Gillian Grassie follows her harp! And it's leading her all over the place.
PLUS: Sgt. Sass divides and conquers! They're here, they're putting out solo shit, get used to it. This isn't technically in the Music Issue package, but who cares?
The New Festival Headquarters (on the corner of Race Street and Columbus Boulevard) is breaking ground Mon., Feb. 25. If you’re wondering what I’m talking about, that’d be the new Live Arts & Philly Fringe HQ on the waterfront that I riffed about exclusively the day after Nick Stuccio signed the lease last summer. Stuccio, Mayor Nutter, ex-Gov. Rendell and Live Arts board members Maria Papadakis and Leonard C. Haas will be there.
It is no fun talking about a place closing. On Valentine’s afternoon, my wife and I were running around the Italian Market when we spied a worker jiggering with the door at the Ninth Street restaurant/BYOB 943. Plants were gone from the front of the window. It seemed like a bad sign. We asked if they were closing and the worker said “yep” before ducking inside. Sometimes I feel like owner/chef Pascual Cancelliere’s Argentinian/Italian eatery never had a chance. It took him a while to open the space after (it finally unveiled in Feb 2011) and there were nasty rumors about monies owed and to whom swirling around the Market. The poor guy had to close up shop last July for heart surgery. Then there’s the fact that 943 was tucked behind the Market’s storied stands. Now, Bebe’s BBQ had the same problem back in the day (and it closed) yet Paesano’s flourishes. Who knows? Good luck Pasquale on your next venture.
Speaking of the Ital Market, Liberties Bellows — the famed accordion sales, repairs and lessons shops — has moved to 614 S. Second St., a larger space with a stage area for squeeze-box only performances. I don’t think the new spot is ready yet so if you need to hear the accordion at its bellow-pumping best soon, check out one of this town’s finest practitioners, Neon and Shy, on Feb 21 (tonight) at the Spiral Bookcase, 112 Cotton St. (thespiralbookcase.com).
Hannibal Buress comes off like a reasonable guy, most of the time. His stand-up is full of funny stories of awkwardness and drunkenness wherein he’s the inebriated everyman overthinking his interactions with everyday people (and Tracy Morgan, Scarlett Johansson, etc.). But anybody who’s seen his stuff on Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show knows he’s got a weird streak. Like last night when he, assisted by DJ Prince Paul, played clips from various hip-hop songs and analyzed their insane lyrics. It was a strange and ultimately kinda brilliant change of pace. Oh and then there was the thing at the end where he did a song — “Gibberish Rap” which he insists is huge in Norway — backed by three heretofore unseen lady backup dancers and people dressed up like Super Mario and Sonic The Hedgehog. Weird. And really funny.
This video by Philly MC Lif Bux is oddly hypnotic. The droney, braggy, overly insistent chorus is a curious fit with the more urgent and clever verses.
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