>>> Opera Philadelphia‘s eagerly anticipated production of Cold Mountain gets underway this evening. Whatever your thoughts on Charles Frazier‘s book and the following film may be, it’s hard not to be impressed by the technical majesty and beauty that this performance will offer up.
>>> The Jayhawks by way of Iron & Wine vibe of The Pines will sprinkle World Cafe Live with liberal doses of prairie dust tonight. Expect songs of bruised Americana and hope hanging on by threads that might just have you crying into your beers. And that’s perfectly okay.
>>> As we mentioned yesterday in our Q&A with the post-shoegaze act, The Morelings are at The Pharmacy tonight with Thief, Steal Me a Peach, Brackish, and Moto Surf.
>>> The Disco Biscuits do their thing at The Fillmore. AND THERE ARE SO MANY LASERS!
>>> Say goodbye to The Underwater Sounds tonight as they play a farewell show at Underground Arts with The Snails and The Rosemary Fiki Band.
>>> Philly indie act Whiting will take a break from recording their debut to open for singer Catey Shaw tonight at Milkboy.
>>> In support of her new LP Promise, multi-instrumentalist/sampling great Emily Wells will showcase her sound, best described as baroque soul, at Boot & Saddle this evening. Kicking this off will be electronica artist Lorna Dune.
>>> Bear Happy Hour at Tabu celebrates the larger members of the LGBT community in a laid back environment packed with beards, bellies and would-be lumberjacks.
>>> Ortlieb’s will host a true happening tonight as Paul Collins Beat, Sheer Mag, Metalleg, and The Whips play, DJ Roro Coco spins, art will be displayed, frito pie will be eaten, and fun will be had by all.
>>> We’ve been on an Italo disco frenzy this week. Will the Philadelphia Flea Market be able to help us fill some gaps in our LP collection on this matter? We’re pretty certain it will, along with the requisite things such events showcase.
RECOMMENDED:Hail, Caesar! is the Coen Brothers latest, finding the siblings in full and frantic genre-hopping mode to relate the misadventures of Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), a Hollywood problem solver tasked with keeping things running smoothly while dealing with trying to resolve the kidnapping of superstar Baird Whitlock (George Clooney). As can be expected from a Coens effort, complications ensure. Though a tad lightweight, the true magic of the flick comes from the cast, which also includes Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and Jonah Hill.
ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: The Quirk Books hit Pride and Prejudice and Zombies comes to the big screen, and we can hear the griping from lit majors already. Lily James, Sam Riley star; and The Choice is the latest life-affirming flick for boring basics based on a novel by Nicolas Sparks and starring Benjamin Walker and Teresa Palmer. Philly’s Ross Katz directs.
It has been said that when the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills. Which that Edward Coryell Sr. will construct — and whether or not Fat Cat will be on standby, just in case — now that he has been ousted from the Carpenter’s Union remain to be seen.
(For maximum impact read this post while listening to Bette Midler’s version of “Wind Beneath My Wings”).
Listening to the music of Philadelphia’s The Morelings is like being thrust into an anachronism. The group draws on the spacey ethereal magic of 90s acts like Lush, Chapterhouse and Slowdive but there’s much more going on here than just simple shoegaze revivalism. Listening to their debut EP No Sign is like witnessing evolution at work, with Matthew William‘s sweeping melodies and Kedra Caroline‘s vocals stretching towards infinity, building upon the foundations of shoegaze to create a new sound that is expansive and full of unexpected twists. This sound out of time distances the act from their backwards-looking peers and establishes them as a group whose temporal disruption is more than part of the appeal. They’ll be playing at The Pharmacy tomorrow night with Thief, Steal Me a Peach, Brackish, and Moto Surf, and they took a few minutes to discuss via e-mail their sweetness and light:
Let’s talk Morelings history. How did the band form, when did you all meet, influences, etc.
Kedra Caroline: When Matt and I first met, we connected over music, and we eventually sat down with two guitars to write music together. Our original musical interest in common was British 60’s psych folk, but then we plugged in and started working with effects. After initially recording a few demos in the studio, we had a sort of musical pause and didn’t play or write for a couple of months. One evening, we went back to it and played for several hours, drawing on multiple influences for rhythms and textures. That was when we really found our sound: the blending of my vocals with Matt’s guitar.
Now that we have the “Getting to Know You” portion out of the way, let’s talk about No Sign. Why did you choose Screen Vinyl Image’s Jake Reid to work on the EP and how do you feel his background impacted your sound?
Matthew William: We recorded No Sign with Kyle “Slick” Johnson in Philadelphia in the fall of 2014. When it came time for mastering the EP, we looked to Jake Reid. We knew about Jake mostly because of his work with some East coast noise pop bands like Crimson Wave and Wildhoney. It was great working with him because he had just the right background to support our aesthetic. Jake also mastered our version of “Lonesome Tonight” recorded for a New Order tribute album called Dreams Never End.
In a time when the music video medium is a shell of its former self, you have embraced the format. How do you feel about the process of making these clips? What has the response been like so far?
Kedra Caroline: I’m a very visual person, so the filming and editing of these videos, the merging of the music with images is an exciting process. Last week we released the video for “No Sign” where, for the first time, we brought in live concert footage of Matt and me. It seems that those people who have been reached by our videos have enjoyed them, as the feedback we’ve received has been positive. Where ever the art of music video making is now, there’s no getting around the fact that images with music can create an emotional depth that the music cannot do alone.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask your thoughts on the Lush reunion…
The reunions of Lush and other dream/noise bands from the 90’s are of course exciting for fans. It also seems to have generated an interest in new bands that have been influenced by music from the 80’s and 90’s. This could be said about The Morelings, and it has been said. But we really try to mix things up and would like to think that our music is difficult to place in any one genre or time period. The new album reflects this for sure. It’s the juxtaposition of sounds that intrigues us.
How is the recording process for the new material going? What can you tell us about it, and, more importantly, when can we hear it?
The tracking on the new album is complete, and now we are in the process of mixing. This is the largest project we’ve ever undertaken, and we are very pleased with the result. Working with Jeff Zeigler has been great! You can expect to hear some similar dynamics in terms of vocals and the guitar, but also some departure from our past work. When it will be released is going to depend on our search for the right label. That’s the next step.
The Morelings play The Pharmacy tomorrow night. For more information, click here.
In the latest would-be development in the ongoing SS United States saga, Philly.com is reporting that Crystal Cruises (not Crystal Castles, which we originally misread and thought would’ve been AMAZING) has signed a purchase option for the ship that would see it removed from its current Philadelphia home to New York City, where it would be refurbished into a cruise ship and travel the globe. Uh huh. The piece also reports that the option deal is only for nine months, and things could very easily fall apart if Crystal’s detailed any inspection of the ship yields any results that would thwart the estimated $800,000,000 restoration of the vessel to make it seaworthy once more. This news feels like the SS United States entering the bargaining stage of the Kübler-Ross model to us, yet we would like to be wrong. We already dread having this thing move to NYC and start filling our Facebook feed with bon mots about Astoria. Sheesh, we never realized the far-reaching impact of Brain Drain until just now.
>>> The first Tire Fire reading event of 2016 is upstairs at Tattooed Mom, featuring works from Andrea Kleeman, Amber Sparks, Andrew Brininstool, and Rae Pagliarulo that will ease you into the weekend with grace and insight.
>>> Put aside your feelings about actors moonlighting as singers and head to Union Transfer tonight to see The Bacon Brothers play a benefit concert for the Viaduct Rail Park. Featuring The Districts’ Rob Grote, the evening is your support an exciting project that will transform a footnote of Philly’s industrial past into a welcoming space for all. Admittedly, we do kind of enjoy the “Footloose” cover as well. Will Mark Squilla be there? That could be awkward.
As if ripping the “I Love You, I Hate You” and “Bell Curve” features from the still-fresh corpse of City Paper to use as new organs for its rapidly failing Frankenstein’s monster of a body, Philadelphia Weekly is once again borrowing a page from the Daily News‘ irksome “Sexy Singles” shamepit with their current Hipster Honeys issue.
Well Philadelphia, you had a good run.
Okay, here’s what irks us about this: Last year the paper did a “Hipster Hunks” feature as “an opportunity to parody the Sexy Singles issues of another Philly periodical.” (Apparently the word “parody” doesn’t mean what they think it means, “mirror” might be more appropriate). This Pandora’s box of potential objectification debates aside, what really bothers us here is how this is just as bottom-feeding as the Daily‘s equivalent — only at least over there you don’t have to deal with cans of PBR placed almost subliminally in the pictures. At this point in our existence we are at peace with the hipster culture wars raging on, with most of Philly watching it from afar with gentle bemusement. We’ve seen a bunch of these women around town and they seem delightful, and we get branding, so there’s no issue there. Really then, what’s bothering us here? Is it that we’ve never really given a shit about playing pool, and that we hate the carefully manufactured quirk of OK Go videos? Or could it be that we are just Yards people? Good questions. But more than likely what really is going on here are aftershocks from the No Country for Old Men-style malaise we feel as we deeply mourn alt-weekly journalism that has been replaced by whatever Portlandia cutting room floor bullshit this is supposed to be.
A video posted by Gretchen Lohse (@gretchenlohse) on
We’ve been blown away by the musical loop magic that Philly’s Gretchen Loshe and Thomas Baird Hues have been uploading to Instagram of late. Fusing multiple instruments as well as their own voices with ingenious editing, they have done the impossible: Turned the online home of selfies and pet pics into a playful musical art gallery. These are done with such care and craft that one can’t help but be impressed. More after the jump. (more…)
For those of a certain age, the songs “I’m Just A Bill,” “Lolly Lolly Lolly Get Your Abverbs Here,” “Conjunction Junction,” and seemingly countless others remain a time machine back to a simpler era where education and entertainment were united in groovy matrimony. The composer and performer of these classic staples of 1970s and ’80s life featured on ABC’s Schoolhouse Rock! segments was Bob Dorough, and he’ll be performing at South tonight at 8 and 9:45pm. (The cost being a mere $10, finally answering our question about how much the opportunity to live in the past would cost us). Although forever linked with the program whose poppy, informative tunes and memorable visuals taught generations of kids the basics about topics ranging from grammar to history, Dorough has a more fascinating life than you ever could have imagined — as pointed out by this Philly.com piece that chronicles, among other things, his collaboration with Miles Davis on “Blue Xmas.” Tonight the 92-year-old Dorough will be focusing mainly on his impressive back catalog of jazz material. However, when he plays a few Rock! favorites you’ll once again see that the value of these tunes is as permanent as the warmness you hold for them in your memory.
The annual moment of Philadelphia shame that is the Wing Bowl is almost upon us again. In preparation of Friday’s celebration of lowered expectations, we took some time earlier today to go through the event’s website in hopes of finding some understanding. As you might have guessed, we struck out on that front. Yet we did discover the following insights that forever changed the way we will look — wince? — at this event. Let’s begin:
• On Friday morning, there will be over 1,000 attendees wearing Smarty Jones T-shirts. However, this is just a sad coincidence instead of a half-baked Guinness Book of World Records attempt.
• There will be a special recorded introduction by Pope Francis that was recorded during His Holiness’ visit this past fall. (Dude loves his wings nuclear!)
• The clean up crew who handles Times Square on New Years Day is already undergoing strict training on how to most efficiently bleach the entirety of the Wells Fargo Center.
• Immediately following the event will be an afterparty in which contestants Wingettes, and attendees alike can shed what’s little remnants of their dignity remain while some local bar band plays Sugar Ray’s “Fly” for infinity.
• For the duration of the Wing Bowl, the streets of the Northeast will be eerily quiet.
• Some Mummers will show up in blackface, ’cause it’s America and PRESIDENT TRUMP y’all!
• Dennis Rodman is the headlining special guest. This isn’t a joke, but rather a telling indictment of this entire shindig and, by extension, mankind itself.
• We will quietly and futilely hope we never have to cover this again.
This Saturday, Christ Church Neighborhood House will be the home for The Bechdel Test Fest, a daylong celebration of female and trans comedians. Taking its name from an influential comic strip from Alison Bechdel that skewered gender equality in mainstream cinema, the fest will put in sharp focus the immeasurable contribution that women and trans performer have upon the comedy scene, creating a larger dialogue about how everyone in the entertainment industry and society alike should be allowed to stand on equal ground. Along with raising awareness, the event, expected to run over nine hours, sees all proceeds from its $20 admission cost going to Dawn’s Place, an organization for women who have been victims of human trafficking or sexual exploitation, and the fest will also feature a clothing drive benefiting Philly’s Career Wardrobe. We had the opportunity to discuss the Bechdel Test Fest with event co-organizer Caitlin Vivian, who shared the following insights:
First up, let’s talk about how solid of a city Philly is for comedy. What do you think it is about this place that makes it such a fertile environment for laughs?
Caitlin Vivian: 100% the community. We’re lucky that Philadelphia has such a supportive comedy community. People will really take the time to go to each other’s shows, start new projects (like The Bechdel Test Fest), and more because we’re excited about what comedy can be in this city and we see how it’s growing, and we’re also engaged with and supporting each other so naturally it’ll grow from there.
How did the Bechdel Test Fest come into being?
The idea of a women-centric fest had already been bubbling up in the conversations of many performers across many theaters here in Philly. We saw a real need for a festival like this because women make up more than half of the population and yet are seen on less than 25% of stages from film to theater to music. We wanted to do more than just talk about how nice it would be to see that change, so we took action to actually make this happen. It started to take fruition within the women’s comedy community called Improvaries. A group of Improvaries members started to meet up in person and talk online about logistics and it became more formalized and became a reality. Outside of the planning committee, there were so many helping hands that made this happen which really goes back to that sense of community that I mentioned above. People really wanted this and are excited to see it happen.
Organizing all of the performers involved seems like a scheduling and logistical nightmare. What were some of the challenges you faced when putting this event together, and how were you able to overcome them?
It certainly was challenging! But everything has been a labor of love for us and many of us have backgrounds in event planning and production so it took away some of that learning curve. Despite the level of technical planning an event like this takes, it’s actually been going off fairly without a hitch and I think that’s because whenever there’s been a need, there’s always been someone there to jump in and help. We’ve been really lucky in that respect. If I had to pick something specific though, I’d say it was organizing the performers as you mentioned. We also wanted to make sure we had a great balance in each block and that we gave newer performers the chance to perform alongside more seasoned comics. How did we overcome that? Lots of spreadsheets, lots of communication, and lots of editing. It’s just about putting the time and attention into everything you do to make it the best it can be.
Do you feel that things are getting better for female and trans comedians?
YES. It might seem slow at times, but it’s getting there. Conversations are being had that might not have been on people’s lips a couple years or even a couple months ago. Tough conversations even. We’re also proving we can hold our own on stage (as if the slew of great female talent over the last 50-60 years hasn’t proven that already). We’re demanding respect as a community and getting people to talk about making things better rather than turning a blind eye. It’s being met with a big positive reaction which shows that Philadelphia is ripe for change.
What can the average person do to support gender equality on a day-to-day level?
Listen, listen, listen. I think the biggest way you can learn how to be an ally is to talk to women and figure out what their struggles are. It brings an awareness to your day-to-day actions that you might not have before. And this is important not just for women, but for people of color, LGBTQ, and other groups. You’ll never know how your actions are helping or hurting unless you understand what these groups need from you as a partner and fellow human.
And now, for the most generic question of this Q&A, Caitlin, who are YOUR comedic influences?
Oh boy, that’s a big one. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout-out to our hometown hero Tina Fey. She’s broken so many barriers for ladies in comedy and her comedic style is something I aspire to. Megan Amram, Kate McKinnon, Ellie Kemper, Mindy Kaling, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Abbi Jacobsen and Ilana Glazer of Broad City are also a few of the funny ladies that influence me.
What are some of the acts you are most looking forward to at the fest?
Just some?! I love them all though! There’s something great in every block but if I have to choose, I’m looking forward to Kathryn and Sarah (musical improv), HOTLINE, Low Hanging Fruit, Kate Banford, Ladies of The N Crowd, and Proper Dodgy. Go see them all though! There are so many amazing acts!
Finally, any parting thoughts?
Philly needs things like The Bechdel Test Fest right now. This fest won’t fix all of the problems on its own, but it’s been a way to rally our community together even more and has fostered a sense of pride and family. We hope that conversations continue to happen because of this and that our actions to have this fest in the first place inspire others to continue to take actions to make things better for women and trans comedians after February 6th.
Back on July 20, 2011, The War on Drugs played a phenomenal set at New York City’s Mercury Lounge. Thanks to the wonders of 21st century bootlegging, the show has avoided the fate of disappearing into the ether and is available for you to enjoy, right now, tomorrow, forever. The opener “Best Night” is embedded above with the rest of the ten-song set available here. Give it a spin. It’s just a dream, you won’t get lost…
>>> Back in 1987, a stage show dedicated to the cartoon Thundercats made a stop at the Philadelphia Civic Center. This bizarro pop culture footnote will be one of the topics discussed tonight at Nerd Nite Philadelphia at Frankford Hall, the monthly celebration of geekery within the City of Brotherly Love (featuring our own Chris Cummins handling co-host duties). Also on deck are talks about H.P. Lovecraft and the history of the Delaware River, plus music by The Means.
>>> It’s the type of rainy night where we just feel like eating bowls of chili and hearing somebody done somebody wrong songs. The Congress can help out with the latter when they play MilkBoy tonight, warming up the dampened crowd with their rustic country pop tendencies.
>>> Are Literature the poster children for Philly’s 2016 indie scene yet? They should be. The group plays Kung Fu Necktie tonight alongside of Magic Shop, Steep Leans, and Beth Israel.
>>> Bourbon & Branch goes all Bourbon & Bluegrass, with music from The Jersey Corn Pickers, Texas Rose, and Hurricane Hoss with Sweet Hannah Taylor. Yee-haw!
Just in case you were not depressed enough about the unrelenting bleakness out there today, here comes this video of the Chestnut Hill West line chugging towards 30th Street Station paired up with Radiohead’s “How to Disappear Completely.” Depending on your demeanor, this is either a metaphor for how we are all hurtling helplessly along towards our final, eternal destination or just a soothing visual tone poem. Fortunately, this wasn’t filmed on the Market Frankford Line because we don’t think we could emotionally handle that right now.
We’ve lost interest in the too-frequent callbacks to previous jokes that currently mar It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, yet we couldn’t help but think of the fourth season installment chronicling Charlie’s mailroom ineptitude when we learned that 10,000 pieces of unprocessed city mail were recently unearthed. At a news conference today, City Controller Alan Butkovitz decried the current state of the city’s Mail Distribution Center in which late water bills, subpoenas and other important documents that shape our destinies were just sitting there, dreaming of the day they’d reach the irritated hands of their intended adressees. As much as there is to be frustrated about this story, it’s hard to not think that this feels right on a cosmic level. A metropolis the size of ours needs the yang of incompetence and the ying of progress battling at each other. This isn’t something that regularly happen, but rather something that will and chaos theorists might even argue should. Those water bills can wait because there is nothing quite as beautiful as bureaucracy sometimes.
(For best results, read the above post while listening to “You Belong to the City”).
A month into Mayor Kenney‘s term, how are you feeling about his work so far? You’ll have a chance to sound off with your questions and concerns this Friday when the Mayor participates in one of his #AskKenney Twitter conversations at 3pm. We want to learn more about the Complete Streets Commissioner, and we expect there to be some griping about snow removal too, as well as the requisite softball lobs. We’ll keep an eye on this one for you and have a full wrap-up of the most significant moments — if any that is — this coming Monday.
Earlier today, Citified broke the news that Mayor Kenney would be hiring a “Complete Streets Commissioner.” A first for the city, this new position in the Kenney administration would, according to spokeswoman Lauren Hitt, be concerned with “making sure our streets are as multimodal as possible, including advocating for protected bike lanes.” The Citified piece has a deep dive on what this means for the city, with the ultimate message being sent by this move — the exact details of which are TBA — is that cyclists and urbanists alike have garnered enough attention within the city to merit a position that more or less will be dealing with the issues that concern them the most. It is as of this writing still unclear how the Commissioner will act to make the city a more sensible place for everyone who has to get anywhere, but we feel good about local government taking a step in this direction. Cautious optimism for now, and we are eager to hear more about all of this. Any word if a dance party has broken out over at the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia upon their learning of this news?
So there you have it: The world is not totally made of shit. Have you got some good news? If so, send it to tips[at]philebrity[dot]com with “GOOD MOTHERFUCKING NEWS!” in the subject header — we’d love to hear about it.