Live music picks this week in Philadelphia!
Thursday, April 10: Cloud Nothings
When I first heard Cloud Nothings’ 2011 self-titled debut, I knew it was something special. There was an honesty; a rawness to it that I could relate to; it reminded me of the punk and emo jamz I used to listen to religiously in high school, driving around the suburbs, screaming the lyrics out my car window as if they could save me. It was real, it was raw, and it felt right. Yet had anyone suggested to me that three years later, the band would become one of the best punk/grunge bands making music currently…I probably wouldn’t have believed it (because who can count on punks for consistency?) Instead, the Cleveland, OH trio—and its antisocial, endlessly creative front man Dylan Baldi—soldiered on, becoming darker and more compelling with each record. They’re now touring behind their third LP, Here and Nowhere Else, and will play Union Transfer this Thursday. Honestly, I love this band, and after reading this in-depth profile of Baldi—who comes off as a spoiled brat—I was worried their music would fall flat. But it’s still as bone-crushing as ever…and actually maybe a little brattiness is a tiny piece of what punk is all about. Either way, I’m on board.
8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 15. Tickets available here.
Friday, April 11: Work Drugs + Teen Men
I’ve waxed poetic about Philly yacht-pop crooners Work Drugs in this space many a time— whether highlighting their Club MTV-worthy beats, or complex, tumultuous pop. When it comes to setting a mood, no one does it better … and with spring finally blooming across the city, I can think of no better way to celebrate than with a strong drink and seductive beat. This Friday, I’ll do just that, when the boys take on Boot & Saddle alongside Wilmington, DE’s Teen Men. A new(ish) Spinto Band side project from singer/guitarist Nick Krill and bassist Joey Hobson—plus pals Albert Birney and Catherine Maloney—Teen Men craft whimsical, creative pop propelled by youth and good times, and accompany their live show with complex video projections, described as “kind of like a fifth member.” Their debut EP, Apartment in the City, just dropped this week (scoop it up for free via Bandcamp) + is a bright, breezy listen—leading to what is sure to be a very fun double-header. See you there Philly!
8:30 at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., $10. Tickets available here.
Sunday, April 13: Roof Doctor
I first encountered Philly jangle punk fivesome Roof Doctor last Saturday at Pilam’s Human BBQ, where they emphatically—but sweetly—crooned their way into my heart. Judging by the crowd, I was not the only one. The long-gestating project of singer/guitarist Mark Harper, Roof Doctor draw from the punk and emo traditions to craft songs that feel both intimately familiar (think: The Get Up Kids, high school mixtapes, early punk) and very much of the now—and deliver them with the sweat-soaked honesty that comes from being emotionally connected to your tunes. Their debut LP, Mobile Freedom Home, is the type of angst-driven, cathartic escape that makes you feel like you can rebel just by listening, and is quickly becoming one of my fave local releases this year. They headline Kung Fu Necktie this Sunday, alongside Baltimore’s Outer Spaces. Before you go: stream Mobile Freedom Home for free via Bandcamp so you can shout along with the rest of the crowd.
8:00 at Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., $5. Tickets available at the door.
Monday, April 14: I Break Horses
Swedish duo I Break Horses craft intimate, dreamy psych-pop awash with float-y vocals and gently pulsing keys. The project of duo Maria Lindén and Fredrik Balck, IBH came together in 2008, and released their debut record—the lush, shoegaze-y Hearts—in 2011. A tour with M83 solidified their status as “band to watch”…and now, three years later, they’re back with Chiaroscuro, an even hazier electronic outfit that trades its guitars for wiggly beats and a layer of icy sheen. Partially inspired by Lindén’s fragile emotional state post-Hearts—as well as the eerie mood of TV series Twin Peaks (“When I was a kid…my parents didn’t let me watch it but I remember that I loved the soundtrack,” she explains), Chiaroscuro lacks the immediacy and grounding of Hearts, instead painting its world as some place mysterious and somber. These are the kind of bone-chilling tunes you can get lost in, and Monday night you can do just during their stop at Johnny Brenda’s, where the intimate set-up and ethereal light show should work together to further the dark magic.
9:00 at Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $13–14. Tickets available here.