Because sometimes, beating the winter is staring it dead in the face, and going out anyway
Wednesday, January 22: The Gene Clark No Other Tour
As one of the founders and primary songwriters for legendary ‘60s folk group The Byrds, Gene Clark is most known for hits like “Eight Miles High” and “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better”: grand, sweeping, psychedelic concoctions imbued with a sense of levity and jangle. But his arguably most brilliant contribution to American music was 1974’s No Other, a complex and multi-genre ouvre that featured dozens of musicians, ran way over-budget, and was regarded as a critical and commercial failure at the time. It later went on to become a critical and cult favorite, inspiring bands as varied as Fleetwood Mac and Beach House—the latter of whom found it so inspirational that they decided to recreate it live, note by note, during The Gene Clark No Other Tour. To prepare, the band rounded up a group of their friends, including Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear), Iain Matthews (Plainsong/Fairport Convention), and Hamilton Leithauser (The Walkmen), who will split vocal duties—plus a ten-piece backing band of friends and fellow musicians. Before you go: listen to No Other all the way through on Spotify, and prepare to experience the magic live.
8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $22. Tickets available here.
Friday, January 24: Pixies
In some ways, it’s hard to estimate the real effect of the Pixies, the moody and enigmatic Boston rockers whose taut guitar lines and capricious vocals inspired artists from Pavement to Bowie, and who kicked off 2014 with an announced EP, their second in over a decade (the first dropped last September). Formed in 1986 by roommates Charles “Black Francis” Thompson and Joey Santiago, the Pixies grew to one of the hottest rising bands in Europe in the late ‘80s, with first record Surfer Rosa winning top marks from the music press. Success grew with sophomore record Dolittle, but so did internal tensions, and the band acrimoniously broke up in 1993. They later reformed in 2003 for a series of reunion tours, and released an EP, EP1, a decade later. The release came shortly after the news that bassist Kim Deal, widely regarded as the “darling of the Pixies” had quit. They’re now touring with Paz Lenchantin (who we fell in love with a few years back), and have released a second EP, EP2, full of hard-hitting jammers. This Friday, they’ll play TWO shows in Philly: at World Café Live’s Free at Noon, and later that evening at The Electric Factory. Unfortunately, both shows are SOLD OUT, so you best get on Craig’s List, stat.
12:00 noon at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., free (RSVP here); and 8:30 at the Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., sold out.
Saturday, January 25: Radio 104.5 Winter Jam
Sometimes, beating the winter doldrums is about more than whiskey-spiked cider and Cards Against Humanity marathons. Sometimes, it’s about going outside and staring the winter dead in the eyes, soaking up rays of sunlight in that small area between your hat and your scarf, and dancing like a manic to keep warm. It’s moments like these where we really live and this Saturday, you can test your mettle during Radio 104.5’s free, outdoor Winter Jam at the Piazza at Schmidt’s, featuring five bands, plus inestimable vibes. And while I’m personally not a fan of headliners twenty one pilots or Switchfoot (I’ll break at PYT during their sets), I am psyched for NYC duo MS MR, whose take on pop is dark, dreamy, and propulsive—and whose debut record Secondhand Rapture is the perfect winter warmer. (It also features Lizzy Plapinger, co-founder of Neon Gold Records.) Also on the bill: Copenhagen party rockers New Politics and Norristown popsters An Honest Year. Did we mention it’s free? Just show up and party down.
Noon to 5 at The Piazza at Schmidt’s, 1001 N. 2nd St., free. More info available here.
Sunday, January 26: Waxahatchee
Katie Crutchfield’s 2013 breakout record as Waxahatchee, Cerulean Salt, was recorded in the basement of her West Philly row home, with the help of sister Allison (of Swearin’) and their respective boyfriends. It’s a sparse, intimate record, full of specific details about family, childhood, and growing up. And yet in those sparse details, there’s something oddly relatable: both for those of us who have shared similar circumstances (I too lived in a West Philly DIY house), and those of us whose lives are markedly different, but still experience the same thoughts, fears, and indecision. It’s not surprising coming from Crutchfield, whose spent nearly half of her 20-something years refining her talent for perfectly incisive, poignant pop, forming two-piece The Ackleys with Allison while in high school, and P.S. Eliot after college—but with Waxahatchee, she hits a new high. Her husky voice and literate lyrics call to mind Elliott Smith or Liz Phair, but with a more approachable quality, like if you ran into her at a keg party, she’d be cool and not pretentious. She headlines Sunday night at the First Unitarian Church; we’re pretty psyched to soak up her tunes.
8:00 at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., $10–$12. Tickets available here.