Kate Bracaglia, Philly.com Music Blogger
Is the best band of 2009 still the best band of 2012? We investigate.
How strange it must be to be Animal Collective in 2012. In the past 3 1/2 years since the release of “breakthrough” record Merriweather Post Pavilion (actually their eighth, but the first taste for many fans), the Baltimore foursome transitioned—from strange dudes writing lush, trippy music to strange dudes writing lush, trippy music that every high school freshman was blaring from their Mom’s SUV on the way to soccer practice.
But MPP was more than just a crossover record—it was beloved by bloggers, ivory tower critics, and quote-on-quote “hipsters” alike, managing to score the #1 spot on Pitchfork’s yearly list of records AND songs. So where does that leave the band now, in 2012, as they prepare to release their ninth full-length, Centipede Hz?
words and photos by Colin Kerrigan
When Broken Social Scene took the stage on Friday night as openers for TV On The Radio at the Mann Center, the rather large venue was pretty empty. It was empty compared to what they’re used to (they sold out two nights at the TLA last fall), which prompted lead man Kevin Drew to say, “We could have done this at my house,” the moment he walked on stage.
After the band finished “Cause = Time,” a fan seated in the pit section yelled out, “I love you, Kevin Drew.” Drew responded by inviting the fan and his girlfriend up on stage to sit on an amp for the entire set. The two accepted the invitation and could be seen taking photos with their cell phones, even getting a photo with Kevin Drew while he was singing in between them.
Kate Bracaglia, Philly.com Music Blogger
It was the final Making Time of the summer, and hundreds poured into Voyeur Friday night to catch local new wave revivalists Cold Cave alongside Canadian up-and-comers Austra.
Austra took the stage first and quickly transfixed the crowd with a set of dreamy, hypnotic concoctions. A 6-piece based in Toronto, Canada, the band—consisting of 3 vocalists, a drummer, a keyboardist and a bassist—proved you don’t need guitars to rock, as it filled with the venue with dark electronic warbles. Particularly bewitching was front woman/songstress Katie Stelmanis, whose smoky vocals and mystical stage presence (she stood center stage, clad in an oversized, see-through men’s shirt and tights, waving her arms as if controlling the wind) channeled early Madonna, particularly on tunes like seductive single “Lose It.”
Cold Cave closed out the night, ramping up energy levels with an adrenaline-fueled set of hazy dancefloor gold. Front man Wes Eishold was all attitude and emphatic vocals, swathed in a leather jacket and flailing about manically, occasionally leaning into the crowd and emoting directly to audience members. The band’s set drew heavily from April’s Cherish the Light Years, with each sampled beat ringing out amongst the haze. Moreover, sentiments like the very New Order-esque “You look so good on the outside” (from single “Confetti”) and “Love will come easy with a face like that” (from “Icons of Summer”) seemed particularly appropriate for the drunk+fashionable crowd, as they clutched PBR cans and let loose for one last rager.
Kate Bracaglia, Photos by Teresa McCullough
It was a warm, rainy summer night last Friday: the perfect night for a dance party. Not surprisingly, hundreds poured into Voyeur for the penultimate Making Time of the summer, featuring much-hyped rockers Dom, along with sultry bedroom collective Craft Spells, plus whimsical popsters Gardens & Villa.
Gardens & Villa took the stage first, bewitching a growing crowd with their free-wheeling concoctions. A 5-piece based out of Santa Barbara, CA, the band’s debut, self-titled record dropped earlier this year and proved a warm listen of vintage synths and lush, pastoral soundscapes. Live, the band sounded livelier and imbued with urgency: vocalist/guitarist Chris Lynch’s impassioned falsetto and very excellent wooden flute-playing (yes, we’re serious) ringing out in the hazy club air.
Photos and words by Kate Bracaglia
Attending a music festival in 100+ degree heat takes commitment. It is not an activity for the weak of heart. If you are willing to venture outdoors and spend all day in the grass in such conditions, it is because you, my friend, are hardcore. And when ALL festival goers are of the hardcore variety, well, that’s when things get sweaty and inspired. And thus you have local radio station WXPN’s 2011 XPoNential Music Fest, which went down this past weekend at Wiggins Park on the Camden Waterfront.
More than 30 artists performed on 2 separate stages over the course of 3 days, from established legends like Emmylou Harris and Booker T to indie buzzbands like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Givers to local faves like Jukebox the Ghost and Nicos Gun. I checked out the fest Saturday afternoon along with hundreds of other sweaty music lovers.
Gabrielle Bonghi, Photos by Inna Spivakova
It was the first hot and humid night in the city of Philadelphia. The Trocadero was brimming with sweaty, voracious concert goers for a sold-out show. All were willing to risk their lack of stamina and body fluids to see the pop punk Brooklyn-duo, Matt & Kim.
As the lights went low, the crowd erupted with excitement. They knew what they were in for. Matt & Kim swarmed the stage as the "The Rocky Theme" pounded through the speakers. High fiving the front row and climbing on their equipment, they encouraged the crowd to get ready for an evening of wild entertainment. After they introduced themselves (as if it were needed), they kicked off their set with "Block After Block", an energetic tune off of their most recent album Sidewalks.
If you've seen a Matt and Kim show before, you know they are notorious for playing awesome renditions of popular songs. As the first song commenced, they paid homage to our great city by playing "Let Me Clear My Throat". The crowd jumped up and down in unison as they bounced to the Philly classic. At this point, everyone within the venue was soaking wet, whether you were dancing like a maniac or just sitting back and watching. Only a few songs in, the show felt like it was already in full swing. They selected a crowd favorite and played "Good Ol' Fashioned Nightmare" which transitioned into another cover: "Apache, (Jump On It)".
Blaire Monroe, Photos by Yusuf Muhammad
If you love bell bottoms, funky guitar riffs, Motown vibes, and mind-blowing vocals, and you were not at Raphael Saadiq’s concert last night, then you missed out on an excellent show.
The evening was opened by the super adorable and outrageously talented singer Yuna, whose sultry smooth voice left the audience in complete awe and bliss. She sang four songs and left us with her closing number, “Dan Severnarya”, a song about love and breaking up in her native tongue of Malay. Not only did she have killer vocals, but she was also incredible on the guitar.
The next act was a totally fun and quirky pair called Quadron. Not only did lead singer Coco Maja Hastrup Karshøj have awesome style and sweet dance moves, but her voice was quite wonderful. The Danish twosome performed a set full of electronic soul. They performed about six songs, and musician/producer Robin Hannibal set the tone with a nice mix of soft ballads and bass heavy dance anthems. Their set ended on a perfect note with a song that started out as a slow ballad with lead singer Coco belting out the craziest of high notes and the smoothest of low notes. Please do yourself a favor, and take a listen.
Gabrielle Bonghi, Photos by Teresa McCullough
Lykke Li is an inspiring figure within my sphere of pop culture. Considering that she's had a short stint as a fashion model, I think she's very gracefully made the transition into "pop star" without needing to add the usual elements and sex and sugar. It's no secret that she's got stunning good looks but she doesn't use them when it comes to her on stage persona. Her show is all about creating an atmosphere that focuses solely on the music.
Above the stage, multiple streams of long black fabric hung from the ceiling and gleaming white lights oscillated off of the silhouettes of unrecognizable figures on the platform. A build up of dramatic percussion finally led one of those figures to turn and face the crowd. Lykke was dressed in a black, flowing tunic that only revealed her head and hands. Her hair pulled back into a slick yet glamorous bun, and her intense eyes focused in on her audience.
Smoke was all the while rising from the floor in dramatic form and immersed the audience. She introduced the show with a song off of Wounded Rhymes called "Jerome", a drum heavy song about denial over a love that no longer exists. She swayed and belted into the mic like a soulful diva. After she set the mood for the evening, she pulled out a classic to warm up the crowd: "I'm Good I'm Gone". Lykke grabbed a pair of the nearest drumsticks and pounded fiercely on the cymbals accordingly and encouraged patrons to get they're hands clapping.