Red Bull Sound Select: 3 Days in Philly is the latest iteration of a music-business trendlet: It's a three-night boutique music festival with a tight stylistic focus that aims to shine light on the local scene.
Like the Philly Music Festival, which happened last month over two nights at World Cafe Live, 3 Days in Philly takes place in only one venue per evening, in this case at Underground Arts in the Eraserhood on Thursday and Friday, and then over to the larger Trocadero in Chinatown on Saturday.
The energy drink's curated fest doesn't focus exclusively on Philly bands but makes a concerted effort to capture the energy of the city's swelling indie scene.
Along with the actual performances, the fest has its own Playbill, an attractively designed, 30-page limited edition zine — 3,000 print copies only, not available online — called Philly Sound. The mag comes with a fold-out poster cover and includes stories about 3 Days in Philly bands as well as acts that have performed at previous Sound Select events in recent years, including Amanda X, Mannequin Pussy, and Joie Kathos.
Here's a tip sheet on who's playing, starting Thursday night.
Opening night at Underground Arts is the most Philly-centric of the 3 Days, and the only one that didn't sell out in advance.
Headliners Girlpool aren't exactly a Philly band, not anymore anyway. The Los Angeles-born folk-punk duo of Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad moved here in 2015 after recording their arresting full-length Before the World Was Big debut. That's right, the fabulous, startlingly vulnerable "Chinatown" is about that section of town in L.A., not Philadelphia.
But while the duo hunkered down here — and also Brooklyn — over the better part of two years, they've since disembarked back to their hometown, where they originally met at a DIY arts space called the Smell. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco contacted Girlpool to produce their new album, Powerplant, but when he couldn't get to it in a timely manner, Tucker and Tividad went ahead and produced it themselves. It retains their trademark heightened intimacy, while filling out the sound.
Support on Thursday comes from Queen of Jeans, the three-quarters female South Philly rock band who played the opening set at Jay-Z's Made in America fest last month, and also the Dove & the Wolf, the French-Philadelphian duo of Paloma Gill and Louise Hayat-Camard. QOJ and D&W recently teamed up with two other local musicians — Shamir Bailey and Sadie Dupuis of Sad13 — for an Out of Town Films-produced video of a cover of the Cranberries' "Linger."
Noname is the stage name of Fatima Warner, the Chicago rapper with a dexterous flow who came up as a slam poet and first made her name with an appearance on Chance the Rapper's 2013 Acid Rap mixtape. She also appeared with Chance on Saturday Night Live last year, and also self-released her own terrific Telephone.
That warm and playful collection doesn't shy away from challenging subject matter, particularly when focusing on generations of suffering among black women. Backed by a jazzy, inventive band, Noname was a highlight at the Roots Picnic earlier this year. At Underground Arts on Friday, she's joined by two Philly vocalists, Andrea Valle and Brianna Cash.
Sydney Bennett is a veteran of both the Odd Future hip-hop collective, where the DJ-producer and singer was the lone female and — until Frank Ocean came out — the only openly gay performer in a group that was frequently accused of misogyny and homophobia. Bennett then moved on to form the Internet, her soul-music collective with partner Matt Martin, and she's recently gone solo with her terrific, darkly atmospheric debut album, the ominously titled Fin.
To make room for the buzz that follows Syd around, 3 Days in Philly makes its move on Saturday to the Troc, where she'll be joined by the Chicago hip-hop/R&B songstress Ravyn Lenae, who has been compared to Billy Holiday and Lauryn Hill, and St. Beauty, the Atlanta duo of Isis Valentino and Alex Belle, who are part of the extended family of Janelle Monae's Wondaland Art Society. Plus a special treat: A DJ set by D∆WN Richard, the former Danity Kane member who's turned herself into a futuristic funk warrior in a satisfying career turn.