Monday, December 15, 2014

Mat Burke Wants To Bleed All Over You at Kung Fu Necktie Dec 19th - Still Bleeding EP Release Show

This Friday, Mat Burke will be gracing the Kung Fu Necktie stage for the Still Bleeding EP release show.  Joined by some of the most exciting rockers in Philly: The Rivals, Penrose, and August John Lutz II of Levee Drivers; it stands to be a wild night of music.  

Mat Burke - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe

If the album title is any indication, Philadelphia's Mat Burke will be ready to bleed for us.  With his new EP Still Bleeding he's visiting a theme he's been capturing for some time.  According to Mat, "everyone bleeds not only in a physical sense but a singer bleeds every time he steps on stage, a teacher bleeds every time she talks to a class, an artist bleeds with every stroke of a brush."  Burke normally plays solo so this makes total sense that he's "still bleeding," sharing his stories as he takes the full brunt of talkative crowds without support of band mates.

Theme aside, on his new EP his music is taken to new heights.  Thoughts of suicide, self-worth, failed relationships, loss of innocence, and of course "still bleeding" are reflective topics he takes on with the new music.  Mat Burke describes it as "hands down the darkest and most personal work I've ever created. Brian [Dale Allen Strouse], Josh [Friedman] and I created something totally diff than anything I've ever done. I was out of my comfort zone on this one and learned that space and emptiness can be a beautiful thing."

Mat Burke - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe
Still Bleeding is a vast mix of singer songwriter personal touches, with touches of punk rock.  "I can't Be What You Want Me To Be" is the best of the full-band songs with the grinding rock, Mat's heart on his sleeve, over Strouse's oohs and ahhs.  "Box of Pine", which was debuted first for Burke's Cover Club Session is impressive with the full arrangement, so he can be glad he didn't succumb to dark thoughts while stuck at a truck stop on tour years ago.  The live set on Friday stands to match with a "Mat Burke and friends" lineup planned.

August John Lutz II (front) and Ben Plotnick (rear) of Levee Drivers - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe
Mat Burke won't be the only one unveiling new tunes.  The Rivals have been teasing new singles to fans, while August John Lutz II's band Levee Drivers is sooooooo close to putting out their new album.   Closing out the nights are the brothers Murphy of Penrose. 

Penrose - Photo by Elizabeth Thorpe

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sofar Sounds Philadelphia 3rd Anniversary Celebration - Recap

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Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia celebrated a fabulous 3 years this November!  With an as-always diverse
line-up the super-secret house concert showcase continued to delight fans.  From burgeoning talent, to genre hopping to the unexpected, the November show was a night to remember!

First up was Matt Phillips, a young pup hailing from North Carolina.  While he looks young enough to have ridden his BMX to the show, he's got the chops of an old-timer.  Nary opening his eyes during the whole set, his happiness was infectious as he played solo with his acoustic guitar.  "Move" was a vibrant number with his fingers all over the neck as he sang along.   His "Mediterranean Blues" had a simplistic vocal style reminiscent of James Taylor, while he played with a soulful innocence and his heart on his sleeve.

Matt Phillips

November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Coffee                               unreleased original
Move                                 unreleased original
Mediterranean Blues         unreleased original
Bluegrass                          Bones
If You Want Me to Stay   (Sly and the Family Stone Cover)

Furious George

Furious George had his turn next.  With barely talking to the audience, he went right into his set.  The Spoken Word luminary was intense.  There was no moment to look away, every word connected to the next.  His choreography down to his perfectly timed breathing was just as important.  And just like that, the 4 piece set was done. 

November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Crazy Like Me
The Man Who Made Me
Computer Love
All Four of My Grands

Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf
Keeping with the theme of youthful and talented, Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf gave a spirited solo performance.  She started off in her normal position behind her synth, but was happy to take some turns behind her acoustic guitar.  She took us through a stroll of the Vita and the Woolf catalog, playing "Mary" from their debut Fang Song and a few unreleased tracks.  The crowd was happy to sing along with the Yeah Yeah Yeah's cover of "Maps", but none of the crowd compared to the vocal range Jennifer showed off during the set.

VITA & THE WOOLF - Setlist
November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Qiet                  The Key Studio Sessions 09.10.14
Bury You          The Key Studio Sessions 09.10.14
Maps                (Yeah Yeah Yeah's Cover)
Mary                            Fang Song
Heaven              unreleased original

Vita and the Woolf - Maps from Bob Sweeney on Vimeo.

Jesse representing Locksley

Jesse Laz one fourth of the Madison, Wisconsin band Locksley joined Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia for the anniversary showcase.  Representing the experienced side of the line-up, Jesse took the opportunity to do several things that ironically he'd never done before.  Why not, it was his first solo show after a decade or so of playing with Locksley.  His decision to move to the middle of the room and ask the seated crowd to stand up was par for the course.  The performance was delightful and downright moving when he sang "Lullaby 2" to his young daughter in attendance. 

JESSE representing LOCKSLEY - Setlist
November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia

Take Me To The Fair
Dedication As Lovers
Whisper of the Season
Lullaby 2

Jesse representing Locksley

Commonwealth Choir
To end the night of the Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia anniversary showcase, fan favorites Commonwealth Choir were also ready to defy expectations.  The "Golden Age Indie Rock" band played all new songs, and played musical chairs with the instruments. This fan was ready to watch William Chamuris lay down some spirited tambourine, but alas - no tambo.  Will started off on accordion, and Nick Cislak was on drums for "Moon".  The surprises kept coming with Will moving over to melodica for "Simple Song".   Davis Howley slapped on the bass, while Maurizio Mazza and Chamuris had the acoustic guitars on "Do".  The enthusiastic Philadelphia fellas, by way of Doylestown, rocked the night gaining that elusive Sofar Sounds encore with new song "Gunman".  

November 2014 - Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia
Moon                        unreleased original
More                         unreleased original
Simple Song             unreleased original
Do                            unreleased original
Gunman                   unreleased original

Commonwealth Choir

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Philly Sings Philly returns to the Fire, starting Tuesday November 4th!

November has quickly crept up on us.  A quick calendar page turn so, easily forgotten hidden between Halloween and Black-Friday/Pre-Winter holiday chaos.  Heck, the biggest thing for most people is Thanksgiving which is at the end of the month.  But here in Philadelphia, November is a reason to celebrate all month long; specifically celebrating the music scene in Philadelphia.

"At the heart of Philly Sings Philly is the desire to explore our peers’ music, past and present, and the storied musical legacy of our city. As tradition goes, our hometown heroes will gather at The Fire every Tuesday in November to pay homage to their idols, adding a personal touch to their favorite songs by Philly-born artists. This year, the event has further expanded with new bands, fresh faces, and weekly curators."

Week 1 of Philly Sings Philly is this Tuesday at the Fire, featuring many Philly Sings Philly alumni, curated by Philly Sings Philly creator, Brad Hinton.   The lineup includes: Ataloft, Tim Dougherty, Ben Smith, No Good Sister, Red Skiles and the Country Ramblers, Ginger Coyle, Mason Porter, Moonlight Family Singers, Kettle Pot Black, and Hezekiah Jones.

Whether you are coming out to see your favorite Philly band in person or to hear your favorite Philly song covered, chances are it is going to happen.  Plan on coming for the full night, as there are typically surprises loaded into each night of the event.  Whether it's a side project, a solo front-man, or just an amazing collaboration, the event is a breeding ground for great musical memories.

Last year during Philly sings Philly, Psalmships was covering a Brad Hinton tune, when part of Hezekiah Jones got on stage to join in, more and more of the band came up as Joshua Britton sang.  Soon Joshua stopped singing , Hez started, and Joshua walked off stage, making a seamless band transition mid-song.

Come see what memories you'll take away!

The curation of the remaining weeks is being handled by Root Down In The Shadow, Sofar Sounds: Philadelphia, and American Diamond Recordings.  Week 2 has Cold Roses and Scott Cumpstone of City Rain, with another 8 bands to be announced.  Week 3 features Sean Hoots, Kuf Knotz, and more.  Week 4 features Pine Barons, DRGN King and more!

Check back for more info as we announce more bands performing week by week!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Peter Matthew Bauer and Delta Spirit rock Union Transfer

This October ex-Walkmen Peter Matthew Bauer teamed up with Delta Spirit for a show at Union Transfer, and Root Down in the Shadow was there to check out a show from artists heading in new directions.

 Peter Matthew Bauer

In the aftermath of a breakup (or even an “extreme hiatus”), the term “liberation” is not used loosely, so when ex-Walkmen bassist/keyboardist Peter Matthew Bauer chose the word as the title of his new solo release, Liberation!, we should pay attention. Bauer brought his new record and his new band to Union Transfer this October, and with them came a high-energy set that showcased a liberated Bauer in a new role with a new sound.

In many ways, Bauer’s new songs tell a story of freedom. Walkmen fans who love the band’s straight-forward driving rock songs will find something different here. These are the songs of a rhythm man searching for different ground. Bauer’s new sound is a Dylan meets Replacements rock combo, and he is flanked by the big sounds of his three female backing vocalists (whose soaring, lush Ronettes-style vocals are so forward in the mix, that there is nothing “backing” about them.) At Union Transfer, Bauer emphatically took listeners on a tour-de-force of rhythm.

While Bauer and his combo presented themselves visually as a tight English combo, the songs cascaded over a range of sonic variety: from skiffle to prominent afro-Cuban style shifts and back again. Some songs, such as “Latin American Ficciones” overtly present these ideas, with the toms banging out heavy accents within a 3:2 son clave while the guitars and voice drive home the songs catchy hooks. The Latin rhythms in other songs are subtler. At first listen, “Fortune Teller” was the most Walkmen-style song of the whole set, but even this straight-up rocker featured the trio of backing vocalists playing percussion, most prominent were the traditional Latin percussion instrument, the claves.

Most noteworthy within the set was how Bauer has embraced liberation within his new role as frontman and musical director. His new record is hip, enthusiastic, and refreshing, and the energy of his live show reflects his excitement. Liberation! is a record to explore. The lyrics are heavily based in eastern philosophies; the world rhythms ignite the songs with deep-rooted passion. Bauer’s musical landscape is a place of spiritual and sonic birth, and the good keeps coming. Last Friday he released his new single, “You Always Look for Someone Lost” as part of Philadelphia’s Weathervane Music’s “Shaking Through” series. Check it out at .

Delta Spirit

Delta Spirit proved to be an interesting pairing with Bauer. Following Bauer, the headliners tore up the stage with the energy of youth and the precision of touring pros. Unlike Bauer’s raw, even intimate Havana club atmosphere, Delta Spirit’s live show is a technical orchestration timed to the second. With light-shows and projected images flashing in perfect synchronicity to the music, it was, at first, easy to chalk of Delta Spirit’s new sound as falling victim to modern manufacturing. It seemed as though spontaneity was sacrificed for pre-programmed tempos; and for a moment, it begged the question: is this real, or illusion?

But there is something about Delta Spirit that insists legitimacy. The band is wholly inviting, and their unending enthusiasm and energy on stage is the hallmark of their set. This band lays it all on the line for it’s fans. The lights and images are part of it, but at its core Delta Spirit is about great music. Throughout the whole 90-minute set the sound never stopped; even in between songs the band connected with the audience while synthesizers built an atmosphere of anticipation. Like a great plot, tension was built and eased in genuine perfection. The show climaxed with frontman Matthew Vasquez lifting a still-soloing William McLaren onto his shoulders.

By the night’s end, Delta Spirit was easy to embrace. The adoration from their fans was matched in the band’s graciousness; togetherness was the theme of the evening. Through their lyrics, energy, and craft, Delta Spirit are about the five-minute moments in life you embrace and remember; they are the anthem to the silent films we replay in our teenage hearts.

Peter Matthew Bauer - Shaking Through from Weathervane Music on Vimeo.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Freeman / Arc Iris play Johnny Brenda's on the Freeman Tour

Last Friday at Johnny Brenda's it was The Freeman Tour, bringing Aaron Freeman's new band Freeman back to Philadelphia with Providence, RI buzz-band Arc Iris.  The sold-out crowd was completely amped, with local hero Aaron Freeman a.k.a. Gene Ween making his return to the hip Fishtown neighborhood venue.  With his new self titled album dropping just over a month ago, the excitement of his return was electric.  Many fans arrived dejected to find out the show was sold out, but the hardcore fans were ready with tickets in hand, ready for the show.

@arcirismusic #amazeballs #FreemanTour #JocieAdams #SoldOut

After what seemed to be a long delay to get upstairs, Arc Iris went on stage on time to start the show.  It has been a great year for Arc Iris, releasing their eponymous debut album earlier this year, getting major buzz on the SXSW circuit and major coverage all year round.   The Freeman tour would be an exciting one with keyboardist Zach Tenorio-Miller having double duty, playing in both bands.

Arc Iris, making their sixth appearance in Philly, was remarkably at their best.  While they only played three songs from their Arc Iris album, their set was filled with insanity.  Lead vocalist, Jocie Adams was also at the best Philly has seen of her, even including several appearances with former band The Low Anthem.  She let nothing get in her way of an amazing set.  At one point she even dropped down into the crowd during "Powder Train" serenading the crowd.  (see "Powder Train" video)

Powder Train (clip) by Arc Iris - Johnny Brenda's / Philadelphia, PA

Little things, like trumpet player Mike Irwin, being off tour to spend more time with his newborn, were hardly a blip.  Jocie played a little trumpet on top of vocals and keys when needed.  (See "Saturation Brain/Rainy Days" video)  Jocie wasn't the only one on double duty either.  Zach, on keys & synth, was a one man rhythm section providing a wild backbone to the songs. 

Saturation Brain/Rainy Days by Arc Iris on the Freeman tour at Johnny Brenda's

With Robin Ryczek on cello, and Ray Belli on drums, this foursome took fans on an already best-of collection with this rising band.  The songs, new and old, fit were great stuff for the Freeman/Ween fans.  The new material was just as eclectic as the Ween catalog, making them a perfect option to open the tour. 

Swimming (live clip) Arc Iris - Freeman Tour / Johnny Brenda's

Arc Iris at Johnny Brenda's October 3rd 2014
Song Title - Album/Release
1. Paint with the Sun Unreleased Original
2. Kingdom Come Unreleased Original
3. Kaleidoscope / Give the Worried Man a Rose Unreleased Original
4. Lay Down a Rose Unreleased Original
5. Powder Train Arc Iris
6. Whiskey Man Arc Iris
7. Saturation Brain Unreleased Original
8. Rainy Days Unreleased Original
9. Swimming Arc Iris

@Freemantheband #Geener #GeneWeen #bucketlist

Freeman and band took the stage next for the expansive sold-out crowd.  Fans young & old pressed to the stage to welcome Geener.  The days of being a part of Ween the band may be completely behind him, but the Ween catalog will always be a part of Aaron Freeman.  Freeman took fans on a tour of old Ween songs and songs from the brand new album Freeman.  The set was amazing.  Even with skipping the lead single from Freeman and many Ween hits, the set was still thoroughly impressive.  More impressive was the crowd giving their all to the deep Ween cuts and new Freeman tunes.  Most impressive was Aaron Freeman looked great and sounded even better.  With an killer cast around him of Chris Boerner (see 2nd video below), Kyle Keegan, Joe Young, and Zach Tenorio-Miller it's easy to be energized and have a great show.

LIVE Buckingham Green-Spirit of '76 // Freeman Tour // Johnny Brenda's

The show was everything a Freeman fan could have wanted.  There were lots of new songs, but many throwbacks to the days of Ween.  There was killer lighting, an over-active fog machine, and the solos were fabulous.  The most epic solo was Chris Boerner on "(For A While) I Couldn't Play My Guitar Like A Man."  Although all the Ween songs are 10 & 20 years old, with the band mates being newer to Freeman and Ween, it's only natural that this future classic would be played with just as much, if not more vigor than some of the Ween tracks.  With this song representing a return to glory for Aaron, it made perfect sense that it would be that the song turned into a 7 minute epic set capper.

LIVE (For A While) I Couldn't Play My Guitar Like A Man / Freeman the band

For one of the most interesting encores in recent memory, Aaron did "Pollo Essado", the spoken word rendition of a customer/waiter interaction at a Mexican restaurant.  And to cap the night, the band reached deep into their bag of tricks and pulled out a Prince deep cut with "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man."

Freeman at Johnny Brenda's October 3rd 2014
Song Title      Album/Release
1.   Cops
2.   All The Way to China            Freeman 
3.   Transitions                            Shinola Vol. 1
4.   Exactly Where I'm At          White Pepper
5.   More Then The World            Freeman 
6.   Black Bush                               Freeman 
7.   Your Party                             La Cucaracha
8.   Demon Sweat                           The Pod
9.   El Shaddai                                 Freeman
10. Stay Forever                       White Pepper
11. Buckingham Green                the Mollusk
12. Spirit of '76                        Chocolate and Cheese
13. Mountains And Buffalo          Tried and True B Side
14. Golden Monkey                         Freeman
15. (For A While) I Couldn't Play My Guitar Like A Man     Freeman
**** Encore ****
16. Pollo Esado                             The Pod
17. I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man   PRINCE COVER