PHOTOS: Kraftwerk Bring Futuristic Sound and Light Show to Electric Factory


On paper, spending hours with a group of static, spandex-clad sexagenarians looping hypnotic electronica might come off as a mildly terrifying way to spend a Friday night. But on a 3-D projector screen, one revises their assessment—for Euro-electro exemplars Kraftwerk, that’s the kind of concept that packs a house.

On Friday, crowds filed in to a sold-out Electric Factory for a 3-D concert experience from Düsseldorf’s avant-garde titans. Aptly dressed as extras from Tron, the band stood mechanically before an immense screen of projections ranging from motion graphic renderings of some of their most iconic album art, to 16mm film reels, to 8-bit interstellar animation sequences.

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PHOTOS: Cosmicide and Interpol Play for the Neon-Hazed Masses at Penn’s Landing

After using Ortlieb’s as the launchpad to debut his new project earlier this year, Brandon Curtis (Secret Machines, Captain Audio) directed the course of his intergalactic electronica outfit Cosmicide back to Philly, touching down on Penn’s Landing during Saturday’s sunset. Coming off the release of their first video for the simultaneously sprawling and driving “A New Disaster” earlier in July, the band proved eager and prepared to showcase their new-wave flavored, melancholy synth-pop.

Curtis’ new band, comprising members of Brooklyn synth-psych group Lip Talk, manage to echo back to the textured dream pop of the Secret Machines as much as it marks a new step into more electronic, loop and sample-oriented waters.

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PHOTOS: Urban Farm in North Philly Hosts Hoodstock Music Festival

Early-afternoon on Saturday, inner-city agricultural collective Philadelphia Urban Creators (PUC) opened the gates of their Life Do Grow Farm in North Philly to host HoodStock – a full-day block party festival of art, live music, farming and social consciousness.

Stemming from the ambition to impact and educate youth in the city’s more under-resourced areas, PUC aims to harness the power of urban agriculture as a means of promoting community sustainability while fostering and engaging the neighborhoods’ youngest residents.

“We chose to host HoodStock on the farm to honor the spirit of Woodstock” says PUC Co-Executive Director Jeaninne Kayembe, “[as well as] to showcase the next legends of our generation.” The day was complete with pop-up art galleries, independent apparel and craft vendors and music artists from over the country.

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PHOTOS: Philly’s War on Drugs, Strand of Oaks, Districts Head to Randall’s Island for Governors Ball 2015

New York has long proven a precarious, star-crossed market for festival promoters due to restrictions over noise and congestion, competition with the city’s cultural calendar and the increased cost of labor and equipment.

But the three-day Governors Ball looks to have succeeded where other outfits, like All Points West, Vineland, Field Day, Across the Narrows and Bonnaroo N.E., fell short.

My brother, Bryan Armen Graham, and I were there to catch photos of Philly acts War on Drugs, Strand of Oaks and The Districts, and other bands who gave performances worth  mentioning.

Lynch-Themed Exhibit Opens at Kensington’s Pterodactyl

PJ Smalley’s portrait of Dale Cooper | Photo via Christian Sarkis Graham

PJ Smalley’s portrait of Dale Cooper. | Photo via Christian Sarkis Graham

Is there really any time as fitting as Halloween weekend to open a show in praise and commemoration of David Lynch? (Okay besides Father’s Day. Or Thanksgiving.)

“I was thinking, ‘How would Dale Cooper go about curating a show?’ He would be very earnest, with almost a Boy Scout sincerity; but he would still engage elements of the surreal and the strange. He would go about it as a tribute to his creator; in a lot of ways, Dale Cooper is the ultimate Lynch self-portrait.”

So explains PJ Smalley, the artist behind the arguable centerpiece of Pterodactyl gallery’s David Lynch-themed exhibit, “Catching the Big Fish,” which held its opening reception Saturday night.

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PHOTOS: The Disco Biscuits and Giorgio Mordorer at City Bisco 2014

“We’re the Disco Biscuits. We came all the way from a couple blocks away.” That was the opening statement from tDB bassist Marc Brownstein at Saturday’s finale set, in a playfully poignant reflection on the jam pioneers’ near 20-year journey from house shows on Penn’s campus, to the headlining stage at the Mann Center.

Brownstein’s greeting would prove an apt encapsulation of the nostalgic attitude that drove all three nights of City Bisco 2014.

These days, the Biscuits may spend the bulk of their touring year highlighting festivals and concert runs in Denver, Chicago or New York. But remarks like Browstein’s reveal they haven’t forgotten where they came from, nor their very first gigs in University City bars and smaller venues across Philly.

Opening night kicked off with something of a pretty unabashed #ThrowbackThursday. The Biscuits started the weekend with a sold-out show at the comparatively modest Trocadero, exactly 14 years and two months from their last appearance at the venue.

If this alone weren’t enough of a nostalgia trip for seasoned followers, the night’s setlist bore a hardly subtle resemblance of Biscuits all-time most fan-beloved shows (a noteworthy superlative for a touring-centric band that’s played 30 to 100-plus yearly gigs over their 19-year tenure). The flashback to this fan-favorite moment (also held at the Troc, once upon a time) felt like a clear love note to the loyals who’ve listened from the beginning.

Friday kept the energy and the memory-friendly attitude up. Sharing the stage with American Babies, a Philly project helmed by longtime jamtronica cohort and frequent Biscuits collaborator, Tommy Hamilton, the band hit the Electric Factory for a night that kept the party going strong.

Everything culminated on Saturday at the Mann Center, with a 6-hour evening that featured two openers, three full Biscuits sets and a very special guest in legendary Italian producer Giorgio Mordorer. The proclaimed “Godfather of Disco” boasted an hour-long DJ set, featuring retro, nostalgia-happy house mixes of a host of his iconic throwback hits (including Blondie’s “Call Me,” Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff” and what the hell, the Neverending Story theme too).

At the end of the night, Brownstein might have signed off by saying that this year’s Biscuits New Year’s Run concert series would split between Chicago and NYC, skipping over Philly for the fourth year. But if the past three years are any indication, Philly might always have a homecoming party to anticipate each summer’s end in City Bisco. That’s something to remember.

PHOTOS: Aziz Ansari Pans the Digital Age, Reads Audience Texts at the Wells Fargo Center Friday Night

Friday night, Aziz Ansari’s “Aziz Ansari Live” tour made a stop at the Wells Fargo Center. And after opener Hannibal Buress warmed up the crowd with more than a couple quips on Philly (yeah we know, man, South Philly parks in the middle of Broad Street, don’t worry about it) the Comedy Bad Boy (aka Comedy Heartthrob) was geared up to take on his LED-drenched stage.

Ansari’s most recent special, “Buried Alive”—shot in town last year at the Kimmel’s Merriam Theater—marked a pivotal moment in the comedian’s voice.

His once scattered, hyperactive observational comedy gave way to a more reflective approach, exploring the anxieties felt toward a looming adulthood—anxieties shared by pretty much any and everyone on the back end of their 20s.

“This new special, I hope, goes even deeper,” Ansari said in a Ticket interview last Wednesday. “I hit topics I never would have had the skill to handle a few years ago.”

Where “Buried Alive” dealt with the acknowledgement of, and subsequent distress that accompanies accepting one’s adult life, “Aziz Ansari  Live” explores the concepts with a higher sense of criticism, focus and confidence.

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INTERVIEW: Shooting the Breeze With Aziz Ansari

Comedian and actor Aziz Ansari returns to Philadelphia this week after filming his last special, Buried Alive,” at the Kimmel’s Merriam Theater in 2013. This time he’s moving to a much bigger venue, the Wells Fargo Center, on Friday, September 26th. We caught up with him this week via an email chat to see what to expect from this latest go round, titled simply Aziz Ansari: Live!

Photo by Lucas Michael

Photo by Lucas Michael

A couple years back, you added a few extra shows to the last leg of your tour—one of which was here in Philly, where you ended up filming your most recent special, “Buried Alive.” Anything particular about this city that drew you back, or was the Kimmel Center just really, really telegenic?

The first shows I did there were really fun. I loved the crowd, and the Kimmel Center is a really beautiful theater. As soon I as saw it, I knew it was a contender for a place to film a special. I knew if we could come back and do it again and film it, I’d be happy with the special. And I was.

Given your penchant for experiencing the hometown cuisine of every city you hit, where are you excited to eat once you cross to our side of the Ben Franklin Bridge? 

I honestly don’t want to say the places, because what if the Aziz murderer is reading this?!

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What to Expect at City Bisco 2014

1488150_10153205524648136_7294115853091530615_nPhilly jam giants Disco Biscuits (DB) might have taken a summer off from their 14-year-strong electronica festival Camp Bisco. But commitment to their fledgling hometown annual run City Bisco has hardly stalled. Adding a third day and two new venues to this year’s chapter, the party’s only on the up and up.

For unfamiliar ears, the Biscuits’ claim to fame is their trademark trance fusion—a genre-bending hybrid of jam, electronica and psychedelia that opened countless doors for likeminded torchbearers of The Grateful Dead and Phish.

Where last year’s City Bisco lineup favored hip-hop legends Big Boi, Method Man and Redman, this year’s supporting acts complement a return to the roots for the hometown heroes.

The Biscuits will have the stage to themselves for night one, a sold-out show on Thursday, September 24th at the Trocadero (because Thursdays are contractually reserved for throwing back to the 90s at this point).

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PHOTOS: Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden Last Night at Susquehanna Bank Center

Releasing seminal, multi-platinum albums on the same exact day might have been grounds for something of a rivalry in 1994, but in 2014 Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden seem to have that hatchet pretty well buried.

Maybe the 20-year mark coupled with the ubiquitous ’90s pop-appeal rendered this grudge a little expensive to maintain; maybe Trent Reznor is just getting too old to stay pissed at anything with a pulse.

Whatever the reason, the two ’90s alt-rock titans kicked off on a joint tour in celebration of both The Downward Spiral and Superunknown’s 20th anniversary, hitting the Susquehanna Bank Center last night.

Soundgarden was up first, coming out swinging with their famed acid-metal brand of grunge. Kim Thayil’s cosmically schizophrenic technique and Chris Cornell’s seemingly rangeless (and ageless) vocals set the tone and demanded attention, as the band launched into 1991’s blistering “Searching with my Good Eye Closed” followed by Superunknown smash-single “Spoonman.”

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