Archive: May, 2011
Johnny Brenda’s was noticeably underpopulated Sunday night but the bands made up for it by filling the space with Fishtown lo-fi indie and distorted guitar rock.
Philly’s own Far-Out Fangtooth tuned in and dropped their wah-pedal on the crowd as they trudged through their dark psychedelic Goth-rock. After singing a chorus of “This must be what hell feels like” toward the end of their 45-minute set, a portion of the crowd got the hint and left before the main act. The Babies were on the bill to play between Fangtooth and Times New Viking but didn’t take the stage because of a “band illness,” according to posted signs.
Times New Viking played a solid hour-long set, mostly from of their latest album, Dancer Equired, just as they sound on the album. But the difference was that your iHome won’t vibrate the rocks out of your glass like TNV almost did live, blending guitar fuzz, constant crash cymbal and Ace Tone keyboard into a cloud of white noise at times. Between songs, drummer Adam Elliot seemed to be more concerned about baseball, repeatedly asking the crowd if, “anyone caught the Reds score tonight.” Eventually, someone yelled back that they lost to the Braves. “Thanks, that’s all I wanted to know. I know you guys like your baseball over here, but there’s no need to be rude.” (When he first asked for the score he subconsciously heard someone give him a “fuck you!”) The fast-paced “Fuck Her Tears” was a highlight towards the end and reflected exactly how they left the stage: in a hurry.
To showcase Philly's knack for design and architecture, CP reporter Meg Augustin peeps inside some of the city's most fab dwellings.
If you're anything like me, you’ve probably tripped over countless sidewalk obstructions while peaking inside row home windows on your way down the street. If you aren’t like me, you probably think that’s illegal.
But for the design-obsessed, it’s hard to refrain from peering inside the numerous historic homes that line Philly's streets. I quenched my thirst recently on a Society Hill Civic Association-guided tour through nine Society Hill homes, most of which were currently owned and occupied by locals — locals with impeccable taste.
My favorite was a Third Street beauty that combined the old with the new. Constructed in 1808, the home was built on land that belonged to a Declaration signer, and once functioned as a bordello. Also mentionable are the bits of original molding that have been featured by the Smithsonian museum. Intrigued? We haven’t even talked design yet. Walking into the home, you enter a grand hallway that could house an entire family. From there, we walked into a deep room that featured a collection of the home owners’ cherished French, Art Deco furniture. Down the hall, the luxe kitchen features concrete counters, African wood cabinets and incredibly high ceilings. The space is open, modern and industrial, but feels worn and worldly.
This experience was enlightening as my first entrance into a private Philadelphia residence. Throughout this house and others like it on the tour, the owners paid tribute to the home's past while staying in tune with their own, more contemporary tastes. In my weekly posts I hope to showcase both Philadelphia’s strikingly rich architectural past while looking at the stylish ways in which Philly’s design scene is reaching forward — all, I hope, without any embarassing sidewalk trips.
NOTE: Society Hill has finished showing off its homes for the year. However, many other neighborhoods are opening their doors througout the summer. Check out the next private homes tour June 3 and 4 at Elfreth’s Alley during their annual Fete Day.
Fete Day Homes Tour, Fri., June 3, 5-9p.m. & Sat., June 4, noon-5p.m, $20, 124 Elfreth’s Alley, www.elfrethsalley.org.
Tuesday: When bands’ members switch instruments between songs, it’s usually because they’re each proficient at various instruments and wish to show off their versatility. The members of Philadelphia’s Lightninging, a band that hardly does anything ‘usual,’ switch instruments just to see what happens. While (actual trained) drummer Greg Foran remains planted behind his kit, his bandmates try on different roles for size, resulting in noisy but joyous rock sounds. By this point, each member can fare pretty well no matter what they’re playing, but the self-imposed unpredictability still makes for quite a sight. w/ Streaks of Light, Hello Creature & Kid Savant, 7 p.m., $8, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Wednesday: Trace the roots of the current British indie-folk movement that spawned Mumford And Sons, Laura Marling and more, and you’ll inevitably land at the feet of musician/actor Johnny Flynn. Just a few years before the scene exploded on an international scale, Flynn released his debut album, A Larum, which fused traditional folk elements with modern subjects and references. With another album under his belt, Flynn returns to the States to hopefully win over as many hearts as his Londoner contemporaries. w/ James Mathe & Caitlin Rose, 8 p.m., $19-$26, World Café Live, 30th St. & Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Thursday: You should probably be skeptical when you’re told that a band that has had limited recognition in America is “huge in _______.” The fact of the matter, though, is that Bell X1 are huge in their home country of Ireland. Not quite U2 huge, but pretty darn close for a young indie band. The group’s new record, Bloodless Coup, is a gently catchy and cinematic as anything they’ve done before, and they never fail to put on an engaging and delightful live show. Just ask Mark Zuckerberg: he saw them perform at Facebook’s Irish headquarters just last week. w/ Jarrod Gorbel, 8:30 p.m., $18, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., 215-563-3980.
Friday: Sometimes being called ‘wordy’ is a bad thing, but when it comes to Austin’s Okkervil River, the more verbose the better. Leader Will Sheff’s lyrics play out like intensely emotional poetry, often setting scenes over the course of an entire album. The group’s newest, I Am Very Far, doesn’t feature a pronounced story arc, but the songs are based around hallmarks of 1950s and ‘60s pop production. Walls and walls of sound, allusions to girl group and those great motorcycle wreck songs; I Am Very Far twists the past to best serve Sheff’s present and future. The results are pretty far out. w/ Titus Andronicus & Future Islands, 9 p.m., $17.50-$19, Trocadero, 10th & Arch Sts., 215-922-6888.
Bonus Friday: In the crowded singer-songwriter scene of the early 1970s, Leon Redbone was an enigma. Dressing in outdated clothes and performing renditions of forgotten pre-jazz tunes. Redbone’s albums play like documented field recordings or time capsules. His guttural voice and convoluted biography are just as integral to Redbone’s acclaim as his music, with conflicting stories painting the singer as over 300 years old and being the author of songs that date to decades before his birth. Come for the legend and, well, stay for the legend. 8 p.m., $30-$35, PSALM Salon, 5841Overbrook Ave., 215-477-7578.
I have such a love/hate relationship with Manayunk. I'm not gonna lie, it's mostly hate. To me, Manayunk represents that region on The Legend of Zelda map where you're like, "...really, this place again?"
It's certainly made worse by one indisputable fact: Manayunk should be awesome. On paper Manayunk could be Philly' best neighborhood. It has a hoppin' Main Street; bars on every other corner; a sweet brew pub; big movie theater; commuter-rail; decent yet affordable housing for college students and young professionals; and live music venues.
But how come every time I show up in Manayunk, I end up saying things like, "If I don't find a parking spot in forty-five more minutes, I'm turning around and going home." Or, "If this street repair restricts access to my buddy's house for six more months, I'm never coming back." Or.. "Thank God they're finally repairing this street!" But I will say one thing about the people who live in Manayunk. They're a resilient brood of serious have-funners who realize the potential of a back yard.
While at a barbecue on Dupont Street this weekend, we invented a new game called slodgeball. It's like dodgeball, but you must have a beverage in hand. You may not throw the slodge ball without sipping from your cup. You may not spill from your cup while getting hit by the slodge ball. If either of these things happen, you are OUT. Last team with players remaining wins.
I'm not going to lie, this is not a beginning-of-the-barbecue activity. This is for those later hours where everyone is feeling a tad more honest and in touch with his or her inner middle-schooler. To protect the innocent, I come bearing no photos, but if you were in a backyard in Manayunk this weekend, you know who you are!
Diego Garcia is no longer the Elefant man, never again to be chided for his irksome MC5 rawk with his Detroit outfit (His name is also not to be confused with the footprint-shaped coral atoll found near the Equator). The Argentinean crooner and instrumentalist has forged a newer dreamier brand of pop for himself that sounds like that Morrissey fantasy that every Latin man in Los Angeles holds dear. On his debut solo CD Laura, the smooth romancer goes for lovelorn lyrics and blissed-out arrangements ripe with live string sounds but touched with Latin musical flourishes and soft rhythms. From “Separate Lives” to “You Were Never There” (the latter, a catchy and hauntingly atmospheric track co-penned by Dhani Harrison (son of the Beatle, George), Garcia’s new album proves it was the right time to go it alone.
Catch him tonight at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St. (worldcafelive.com).
Recently, Mary Ann Lee, “America’s first ballerina,” was honored at Laurel Hill Cemetery. The dedication ceremony — happening 112 years after her 1899 burial — included words from her official biographer and representatives from the Pennsylvania Ballet. But, it’s not just that. They also tried to summon her spirit back from the grave. No Ouija boards were available for comment.
“Our Mary Ann,” as she was affectionately called, was a local child star who came from a family of circus performers. After the first ballet school in the United States opened in Philadelphia under Frenchman Paul Hazard, a young Lee found her passion for dance. She performed across the Eastern Seaboard, and more notably, left for Paris to train with Jules Perrot and Jean Coralli, creators of the classic ballet Giselle.
The part of Giselle remains one the most coveted roles ever. The epic tale goes like this: Giselle falls madly in love with a fellow peasant during grape season in the Rhineland. Turns out that her one true love is actually a nobleman in disguise, who was just trying to sow his oats before marrying a princess. When Giselle, who is living with a heart condition, discovers the truth, it’s too much for the sweet gal to take, and she dies of a broken heart. However, even in the afterlife, she loves her man unconditionally and is summoned from the grave to protect him. Dancing Giselle’s fragility, naïveté, infatuation and power is no simple task. A lot of dancers don’t have the chops to pull it off. “Our Mary Ann” did and it became her most famous part. She starred in the first American production of Giselle in 1846.
Two soloists from the Pennsylvania Ballet stood at her grave during the dedication, portraying the friendly spirits who bring Giselle back. Now, this is the moment where I was hoping a waif Natalie Portman had emerged from the ground to tell the world that she was perfect. Alas. Let’s hope that life imitates art more accurately in this case: at the end of the ballet, Giselle rests in peace.
Christhopher Seybert dishes on the week's best and worst moments in daytime talk.
OPRAH SAYS TA-TA
I'm dubbing this The Week of Oprah. After 25 years in the gabbing, aha moment-making businesss, The Oprah Winfrey Show aired its last three episodes.
A-list celebrities — everyone from Tom Hanks and Will Smith to Beyoncé to Aretha Franklin — flocked to Chicago to surprise the Queen of Talk on Monday’s and Tuesday’s shows. They performed and spoke about how much Winfrey has impacted their lives — making this two-day extravaganza a testament to her legacy as a lady who has not only influenced a legion of bored housewives but Hollywood's elite, as well.
Wednesday’s finale was just Oprah doing what she does best, having an honest chit chat with her audience. After revealing that her show was her calling, she said, "Everybody has a calling, and your job in life is to figure what that is and get about the business of doing it." She closed with "Until we meet again." A fitting farewell, considering that goodbye would mean she’s gone for good, and we know she ain't leaving anytime soon.
BARBARA WALTERS IS GAGA OVER BARBARA WALTERS
On Monday in New York, Lady Gaga promoted her new album Born This Way on The View. And like she's prone to do, Barbara Walters took credit for Gaga’s career — stating that her 10 Most Fascinating People special was Gaga’s big break. She then went on to praise herself for writing all of Gaga’s songs, choosing her outfits, and being Gaga’s social media strategist. Okay, so maybe Babs didn’t go that far, but she might as well have.
After talking about her Little Monsters, her recent SNL appearance, and being bullied in high school, the biggest shock came at the end when Joy Behar divulged that she and Gaga shared the same gynecologist. Um, that's one for the TMI file.
REGIS THE RUMP SHAKER
On the Wednesday episode of Live! with Regis and Kelly, the new champion of Dancing with the Stars, Hines Ward and his partner Kym Johnson made an appearance. During the interview, Ward, the Pittsburg Steelers’ wide receiver, ranked training for the show as more difficult than NFL training. He and hsi partner then danced their winning samba. After seeing how Hines can shake his hips, Philbin asked him to be his partner for the next season. Now I’d definitely tune in for that ...
Since the release of 2009’s The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga has worked to revamp her image from reigning queen of pop to a hybrid religious-sexual cultural icon. And, with Billboard predicting that her latest, Born This Way, will sell 850,000 copies in the U.S. in the first week, it seems that her efforts have paid off. Although she seems not to have lost her status as royalty in the industry, the de-mainstreamification of her image, if not her music itself, seems to have satiated her adoring fans (“little monsters”) without compromising the integrity of her music as archetype of pop.
Intrepid CP entertainment reporter Peter Chawaga sets out on a weekly mission to find the best, quirkiest and - most importantly - still operational record stores our town has to offer.
If I bought record every time I went to a vinyl store for this column, I would be super rich in musical history but dirt poor in the conventional sense. Within ten seconds of visiting Repo Records (538 South St.), however, I knew I couldn’t walk out empty handed. I was ecstatically overwhelmed by their collection of over 10,000 new and used vinyls and prints.
Their inventory includes several albums I never thought I’d see on wax, both new and used — including wax versions of indie and electronic albums from current bands like Ratatat, MGMT and Daft Punk, as well as a huge collection of the standard ‘60s and ‘70s used classic rock albums you’d expect to find. There’s also a good amount of heavy metal, punk and progressive rock albums, which, to me, implies a specific demographic of regular customers. And if you come in with a wishlist, Repo is your best shot at finding it on sale.
The story of Repo Records is a long one and in many ways it exemplifies the changes in the record store industry over the last two decades. In the beginning — 25 years ago — things were good and business was booming at the original location in Wayne, Pa. So much, in fact, that the store moved to a more lucrative spot in Bryn Mawr. As the mid-nineties approached and the vinyl industry began to decline, the popularity of CDs kept Repo afloat and allowed them to open their newest store on South Street. Now that downloading has become the method of choice for music fans, it’s the store’s impressive collection of vinyl that draws customers in. As one employee told me, “people are buying fewer CDs, but more vinyl."
Today, Repo has one of the largest collections of vinyl for sale in the city and in addition to their great indie store vibe, they run an impressive business. Their website features awesome “Staff Pick of the Week”, updates on what’s been coming into the store as well as an online ordering service. So take that, digital music!
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