September 12, 2014
The haircuts and sportswear on display in Cruisr‘s band photo point out to me right away that I am too old to like this band, that by rights, I should be turning their very existence into some kind of think piece on poptimism and jerking off into the bottomless well of my own white, Gen X, male mortality.
Oh, let me count the ways I do not want to do that.
Nor do I want to turn this into a thing about me. What I’d like to turn it into, if it’s not too late, is a thing about how risky it is what Cruisr — who, by the way, hail from Philly, just got signed to Vagrant, big things are expected, etc. — are doing here. (Can we also get a shout out for the secret Arctic Splash container on the cover art?) As made plain by “Kidnap Me,” their new single, the group’s music is heavily indebted to MGMT and Phoenix, bands who have been risking that same risk on grander scale for a while now. The risk is a question that goes like this: How does a band — a BAND! — make pop music that sounds contemporary, uses present-day technology and the rest of it, and still stay smart and somehow manage to not trend themselves out of existence? How, in other words, do you do a band in 2014 that is not a part of one retro movement or another? Is that even possible? Cruisr has synths and handclaps and (again with the) haircuts straight out of the Sophistipop era of Orange Juice and Spandau Ballet and Tears For Fears. But I think it’s also a safe bet that most of their intended audience has no idea about any of that stuff. Maybe even Cruisr don’t. And maybe that’s a great thing. Maybe this is all just my shit.
You know what? I take back what I was saying earlier. Let this all be just about me after all. Allow me to throw myself on the grenade. Let Cruisr exist in a perfect now. They deserve to. They are kind of great.
– Joey Sweeney
I cannot help but feel like this all ends with everyone on Earth covered in ice water and dog spit, waiting on some dude from football to give us two dimes for the cause of our own choosing.
September 11, 2014
The Idiopathic Ridiculopathy Consortium have the most baffling company name and the most baffling website we’ve come across with any connection to this year’s FringeArts Festival, which is a good sign, given that they’re adapting one of the 20th century’s most baffling works for the stage, Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. A classic absurdist allegory, Rhinoceros is not a stretch for this company. They are old school absurdists, and based on the reviews they’ve received so far, they know what they’re doing, even when no one else does. Skybox at 7:30 PM, $15-25, 120 minutes. Buy tickets here.
>>> By now, Shonen Knife are as monolithic and canonized a punk band as the punk bands in imitation of whom they initially created their sound. The band are in town supporting Overdrive, the latest in a stream of steady releases that now dates back more than thirty years. Watch the video above for a taste of the Psychedelic Furs-meets-Thin Lizzy sound that’s a little, but not very, uncharacteristic for this highly stylized and influential group. Brooklyn purveyors of Middle Eastern Motown Habibi and our favorite local post-Riot Grrrl indie-punk shredders Amanda X join the Knife at Underground Arts tonight.
>>> Elsewhere: Pioneers of early (read: not absolutely fucking awful) emo Mineral have reunited and will be at Union Transfer tonight with Into It. Over It.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that viral video campaigns are now becoming the most popular way to raise money for, and awareness about, under-funded resources. Whatever anyone said about the Ice Bucket Challenge when it first came to the attention of the public, eventually, we all started saying the same thing: “It really is raising a lot of money, though.” We’re lucky in Philly to have teachers and educators smart enough to pick up on this no-brainer concept. Enter the #StackThatPaper challenge, for which you stack paper on your back or elsewhere and then donate paper or money in the amount stacked, or any other amount, to Philly schools that currently #lackthatpaper. If you’re thinking as you’re reading that paper’s not really so important, here’s an old friend with an insight for you:
We’re giving away two free tickets to Local Brews and Local Grooves and, well, let’s see, how do we advertise this? Uh, BEER! BANDS! FREE! Seriously, how can you go wrong? Show is next Wednesday, September 17th at 6 PM. To enter to win tickets, email ihopeiwin[at]philebrity[dot]com with “ALL I WANNA DO IS BREW N GROOVE” in the subject header. You’ll automatically be subscribed to the forthcoming new Philebrity Reader weekly newsletter and win chances for other exclusive free stuff.
Pakistani-American grunge-poppers The Kominas, described by The Fader as “Muslim punk pioneers”, just dropped a new all-VHS video shot by the homeboy from way back Eddie Austin, formerly of Philebrity Radio. The song, about coming to terms with psychologically demanding religious pressures as a child, and the video, rife with banana slapstick that falls somewhere between Gravity’s Rainbow and Donkey Kong, both hang out at the intersection of upbeat and bummed-out, kind of like XTC on a rare downer kick. But while the heavier undertones are present through out, and while the Rocky homage is a little obvious for our taste, it’s all in all a hell of a good time watching these dudes goof around up and down our city’s roofs and supermarkets.
When we checked in on the Free Library of Philadelphia just a few months ago, we were pretty psyched about their offer to solicit new designs from city artists. They’ve been making way bigger moves since then. The William Penn Foundation, a longtime supporter of the library, has just awarded the FLP a $25 Million dollar grant to renovate several of their centers including their central branch. The historic amount is meant to reflect not the scope of the project but the scope of its potential reach; Penn notes that the FLP is frequented by city residents of every demographic and that its programs are universally applicable and beneficial. The FLP is using the money to fuel Building Inspiration, its new 21st Century Libraries Initiative. If only it were everyday that large sums of money were awarded to major city institutions promoting educational programs.
Guncrisis.org has some revealing findings and some provocative questions for Philadelphians reflecting on the events of September 11, 2001. According to data culled by Guncrisis using Philly.com’s homicide map and Philadelphia Police homicide data, 3,373 people were killed by guns in Philadelphia between September 11, 2001 and the end of 2013, and 174 more have been murdered so far this year. Guncrisis points out that the September 11 attacks resulted in two wars including the longest in the nation’s history, and that while Philadelphia has curtailed her homicides in the past few years, her rates are still higher than Chicago’s and New York’s. President Barack Obama announced his plans last night to carry out another series of targeted air strikes against ISIL militants in the name of “countering [their] warped ideology.” Guncrisis wants to know, as do we, when steps will be taken toward countering the warped ideology that’s keeping so many guns on the streets.
Jesus, Zuckerberg, you can’t do a goddamned thing right.
As we pointed out a few days ago, as it stands now, Terry Gillen is the only declared Democratic candidate for the Philadelphia mayor’s race in 2015. She is, however, far from being the only person who’s likely to run. And with only eight months to go until the Democratic Primary Election — which in all likelihood will lock up who’s going to be the next mayor right then and there, this being Philly and all — doesn’t that strike you as… odd? Eight months!
Sadly, given Philly’s political culture, where no one will get up off of a cushy Council seat or the like until they absolutely have to, it’s not odd. In fact, it is de rigeur. And though we can’t always be down with everything economic policy wonk Brett Mandel (pictured) has to say, he pretty much nails the situation in this blog post from yesterday:
“I’m running for mayor.” For too many Philadelphians, those words seem to be harder to say than “I’m sorry,” “I love you,” or “Ruben Amaro, you’re fired.” With Mayor Nutter unable to run for re-election, the job of Philadelphia’s chief executive will soon be open but based on the collective reluctance to utter the words, “I’m running for mayor,” it seems like nobody is actually interested in the job.
Of course, that’s a bit of a stretch. There are a great many who would love the job, but it seems that telling us that they actually want the job presents a problem for them. As of today, only one individual has stepped forward to throw a hat in the ring even though many others have been maneuvering toward the mayor’s office for months and years.
For a job requiring a big ego, why are so many so shy about telling us they want it?
For starters, some mayoral wannabes hold an elected city position, which means that — thanks to our City Charter — they would have to resign their current jobs to run for another elected position. Unwilling to give up their paychecks, their city cars, or the right to be called “the honorable,” some choose to be coy until the last possible moment (as late as next spring) when they would have to legally declare their intentions, resign their position, and let us in on a poorly kept secret that they really do want the job. Any significant undertaking requires personal courage, sacrifice, and even a leap of faith. Currently seated elected officials not resigning to run are showing Philadelphia that they lack confidence in their ability to lead (or win) and are unwilling to make sacrifices for our greater good. So why should we have faith in them?
So what gives, mayoral hopefuls? Show your faces. Unless, that is, you’re too scared; in which case, yeah, maybe you shouldn’t run.
After ignoring each other throughout middle and high school, the former too intimidated and the latter too haughty, at college, where we all have the opportunity to finally reinvent ourselves away from those who fostered our identities without our permission in our youth, Science and Fashion have finally come around to one another. Now that they’ve met, and found that they actually can tolerate each other, the two have created something beautiful together: the Drexel University Descience Competition. A new project that culminates years of initiating collaboration between the design and science departments at Drexel, the Descience competition pairs science and fashion students to collaborate on new designs that highlight important issues facing the sciences. The designs are up now on the Descience website, awaiting your votes, which through September 26th will nominate competing teams for a $500 cash prize. Cast your votes not only to support fashion and science, but also to support the joy and harmony they’ve found together.
Stevie Wonder is coming to Philly with his tour on the 1976 classic — and we mean classic — Songs In The Key Of Life, and if you’re shrugging your shoulders, that’s because you know Stevie Wonder as a credit on the soundtrack to a mediocre movie and not as one of the most original and important pop artists in whatever I don’t know forever. This news has already broken pretty much everywhere in pretty much the same fashion: short blurb, exclamation point, Youtube embed of “Isn’t She Lovely”. Nevermind that the album abounds with socially conscious messaging not only relevant but actually useful to both the time of its release and the time of this writing. Nevermind that Stevie Wonder was perhaps the last artist to receive and actually deserve a Grammy Award. Nevermind that the bass under that horn arrangement is, oh man, just smokin’. Let’s be real. It would behoove us all to catch this show. Tickets go on sale Monday, September 22 at 10 AM, show at the Wells Fargo Center on November 16th.
September 10, 2014
iHamlet is an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet by South African playwright Robin Malan. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is stripped down for this show to one voice and one body to create iHamlet, a presentation of Hamlet’s pure self and being. Melissa Dunphy, the veteran Shakespearean and musician and favorite of Rachel Maddow among others, who has already handled a handful of Shakespeare’s leading women for the Philadelphia Shakespeare Theater as well as several other local companies, will be the medium for Malan’s iHamlet, and the production is helmed by David O’Connor. The show will be at the Shakespeare Theater tonight at 7 PM. Also, Melissa just tweeted that tickets at the house are BOGO.
In honor of the theatrical release of God Help The Girl, the new movie musical written by Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian, Philebrity and The Philadelphia Film Society are pleased to present this year’s edition of our beloved ALL BELLE & SEBASTIAN DANCE PARTY! On THURSDAY SEPT. 18, join us back at National Mechanics, where we’ll be clearing out the tables and dancing all night to the greatest Scottish pop group of all time, BELLE & SEBASTIAN. For those of you that have been coming to this party for nearly a decade now, you know the deal: This is one of the sweetest nights of the year! For new friends, put on your dancing shoes, this is a BIG NIGHT! Your veteran B&S song selectors will play music from all phases of the band’s career! Drinks will be served! Toasts will be made!
Watch the God Help The Girl trailer below, and see the movie at PFS Roxy starting Fri. Sept. 12. And stay with Philebrity.com for updates and giveaways, including movie passes and vinyl, coming soon! (more…)
Now that the news that Philly is decriminalizing weed has hit every major national political blog and every major national pot blog, Mayor Michael Nutter‘s office has decided to release an official statement about it. The new bill will be finalized by Councilman Jim Kenney tomorrow, and will go into effect Oct. 20th. Here are the details of the ordinance provided in the release, so you can have them here in plain writing, straight from the horse’s mouth, no psyches or takebacks or madeyoulooks:
1. A person found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana (30 grams or less) will receive a Notice of Violation and a $25 fine.
2. A person found to be using (smoking) a small amount of marijuana (30 grams or less) in public will receive a Notice of Violation and a $100 fine or up to nine hours of community service.
3. Philadelphia Police Officers will confiscate any marijuana they find.
4. The citations issued will be processed through the City of Philadelphia’s Municipal Court system.
Breathe easy folks. Now hold it in. Little longer. Little longer. There you go.
PPL WERE RILLY SWEATIN THIS
FUCKING FUCK MY LIFE
THIS FUCKING BULLSHIT IS STILL EATING MY FEED
FUCK YOU ALL.
On September 26th, The Upstart Fest will bring a motley crew (wrong genre?) of punk bands from coast to coast and beyond to Connie’s Ric Rac. Headliners include locals The Virus as well as overseas companions The Svetlanas, who apparently hail from the USSR, which means they’ve travelled just far in time as in space to get to this festival. Other notable bands include LA’s Left Alone and Japan’s Uzuhi. Honestly, the more we look into this thing, the more it looks like the international psychobilly and ska convention your teenage cousin’s been begging you to take him to. BUT: PBR is sponsoring, which probably means free-flowing PBR, which would tip the scales a bit.
According to the release we just received from Celebrity Boxing, “Antoine always wanted to do a song with Lindsay Lohan and he said if he has to knock out her dad first then he will.” We’re always tempted to pepper quotes from these press releases with [sic]s, but by now, we’re tired of it. As far as the actual fight goes, while Damon Feldman‘s chosen pairings always strike us as both utterly appalling and somehow weirdly inspired, this one is perhaps a shade beyond the pale. Antoine Dodson and Michael Lohan are only celebrity boxers in a hellish mirror world where the definition of “celebrity” is distastefully skewed. Although, perhaps it’s also fitting, since Damon Feldman is only a boxing promoter in a hellish mirror world where the definition of “boxing promoter” is distastefully skewed. In any case, we apologize to all of you who were hoping that you had finally seen this video for the last time.
Susan Howe, considered today to be one of the best established poets associated with the American postmodern tradition, has been collaborating with punk musician turned avant-garde composer David Grubbs for many years. The two have produced three albums to date, all currently on Drag City Records, all presumably deeply investigative of the points of contact between sound and language, all presumably totally immersive and transfixing, and they have performed together at many prominent arts and education institutions nationwide. Tonight, at Amado Recital Hall at 6:30 PM, the two will perform their fourth sonic collaboration, WOODSLIPPERCOUNTERCLATTER. Presented by ICA, the performance will draw inspiration from the work of Paul Thek, an alumnus of the museum. We can pretty much promise that this will be a cultural event of some magnitude. But you can check out their work for yourself below, if you have an hour to spare: