In honor of Valentine’s Day, here are four five local bands we <3.
Thursday, February 13: Johnny Showcase & The Mystic Ticket
Philly “absurdist soul” group Johnny Showcase host “Night of the Electric Love Phoenix,” an event whose name alone should give you a pretty good idea of what they’re about. The creative brainchild of David Sweeny, a sunglasses-at-night and bling-wearing Philadelphian with a penchant for Prince, the band first made a splash in 2009 when their Fringe Arts show Purr Pull Reign (get it?) was a fest highlight; since then they’ve continued refining their act, composing their own trove of sexy-smooth singles, imbued with a keen sense of humor (song titles include “Rubber Glove” and “Cocaine Sandwich.”) Live, the 8-piece dons their very best American Hustle apparel and slinks and croons their way through funk and soul numbers—proving that not only is R&B not dead, it’s sultrier than ever. Bring your boyfriend (or your crush), because things will get steamy!
9:15 at Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $12. Tickets available here.
Friday, February 14: Ang & the Damn Band + St. James & the Apostles
Two “&” bands team up for a down and dirty lovefest at swank dive bar Ortlieb’s. Ang & the Damn Band is the project of Ang Bocca, South Philadelphian and vocal powerhouse who spent the past few years rulin’ it on the open mic circuit before gathering her own “damn band” of friends and fellow musicians. Since then, she’s been a regular on the backroom bar scene, where her bad-ass vocals and soul-inspired creations have soundtracked some epic evenings. She’s joined this Friday by psychedelic blues trio St. James & the Apostles, featuring cousins Jamie Mahon, Mike Kiker and Jeff Castner, whose bluesy, psych-rock charmers swell with vintage organs, biblical allusions, and Mahon’s affecting vocals. Their most recent, Baphomet, is a sprawling, freewheeling journey through psychedelic soundscapes—which is even more enthralling live. Add what Bocca calls “Tarantino vibes” (have you seen Ortlieb’s vinyl and suede booths + sexy lighting?), cheap drinks, and vibes, and you have all the ingredients for a very sexy <3 Day.
8:00 at Ortlieb’s, 847 N. 3rd St., $6. Tickets available at the door.
Friday, February 14 and Saturday, February 15: American Babies
American Babies is the project of Tom Hamilton, Philadelphian and balladeer, whose finger-picked guitar anthems abound with twangy strings, big surging choruses, and the same moonlit appeal as your fave ‘60s and ‘70s blues records. Formed seven years back when Hamilton, a musician by trade, grew disillusioned with the relentless touring schedule of his past band, American Babies was created to get “back to the music,” and has evolved slowly from a solo act to a full-fledged band, whose stompin’ live show has won them opening slots for The National and um, Sheryl Crow. In 2013 they released their third full length Knives and Teeth, which ricochets between jangly, motorik anthems, like the War on Drugs-esque “Bullseye Blues”—and blues and keys-tinged slow jams. They play Union Transfer this Friday AND Saturday alongside Jersey vets Railroad Earth; major vibes expected.
Monday, February 17: Harsh Vibes
Fishtown fuzz-masters Harsh Vibes craft skuzzy, spaced-out jams whose punishing riffs and frenzied layers recollect the best of the ‘90s shoegaze scene, and whose preference for releasing tunes via cassette means there’s a good possibility you’ll wonder if maybe you slipped a copy of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation or Neu!’s Neu 1 into your tapedeck instead. Formed in late 2010 by friends with a shared love of post-punk and drone-y riffs, their most recent release, Dead Collective Soul, is a seering collection of head-bangers, from the relentless “Jam Forever” to the spacey “Hidden Doors.” Live, the five-piece rips through tunes with ferocity and power, which means their show Monday night should kick-start your week defiantly.
8:00 at Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., $5. Tickets available at the door.