Frank Turner Keeps the Energy Going at the Fillmore

frank turner

I bought Frank Turner tickets in August as a birthday gift. Though I respected him as a musician after a few listens, his performance at the Fillmore last Friday night was enough to make me a fan.

As the crowd was getting comfortable in the dimly lit space, British songwriter Jay McAllister, known as Beans On Toast, took the stage for a charged but lighthearted set. An old friend of Turner’s, McAllister was loose, down-to-earth, and funny. His lyrics left nothing uncriticized: capitalistic greed, religion, even chicken farming and Donald Trump. Highlights aside from joining in a chicken-clucking symphony and belting the chorus for “F**k You Nashville,” was the song “God Is a Terrorist,” about Charlie Hebdo. “When a brown man kills we blame the religion, and when a black man kills we blame the race. And when a white man kills we say it’s an isolated event and that he’s criminally insane.” Armed with just a mic, an acoustic guitar, and what appeared to be a Yuengling, this tune about summed up Beans On Toast: “Don’t Believe the Bulls**t.”

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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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REVIEW: FIDLAR at Union Transfer

FIDLAR at Union Transfer

FIDLAR frontman Zac Carper.

There’s something not very surprising about the fact that FIDLAR frontman Zac Carper chose sobriety to be the common theme from FIDLAR’s sophomore album, Too. Anybody who’s taken a gander at some of the lyrics from their first album knows the band has – or at least had – a fondness for drugs. There’s easily at least 15 examples I could choose from throughout the album (probably more), but the following lyrics from “No Waves” seem to sum it up best:

I feel, feel like a cokehead I feel, feel like I can’t get drunk no more Cause I’m on the floor Looking for some matches just to cook up a score I feel, feel like shooting up I feel, feel like giving up on my skateboard Cause I’m fucking bored I wanna perfect left down a sunset shore

I feel, feel like a crackhead I feel, feel like I’m not gonna make it no more Cause I’m on the floor Just pick me up and give me some more

Yeah, it sounds like somebody does too many drugs.

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Madonna at Wells Fargo Center: Too Much Spectacle, Not Enough Madge

Photo courtesy of Kevin Mazur for WireImage/Getty

Photo courtesy of Kevin Mazur for WireImage/Getty

The sacred and profane were on full display last night at Madonna’s Rebel Heart show at the Wells Fargo Center. Fans even broke out the Pope and nun costumes — plus the usual full drag-queen glam outfits you see at all her shows. You can imagine that months ago when the news of Pope Francis’s visit was announced that Madonna and her team must have cooed with pleasure at the timing that coincided so neatly with her tour stops in New York City and Philadelphia. The 57-year-old singer referenced His Holiness a lot throughout the night and noted, “You know what I think is interesting is that the Pope is stalking me. Either that or he’s secretly in love with me.”

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Divas Pack Dell Music Center for a Powerhouse Concert for AIDS


Sheryl Lee Ralph is working hard to spread the important message of HIV/AIDS awareness through her DIVAS (Divinely Inspired Victoriously AWARE) Simply Singing concert. The 25th annual benefit show, which claims to be the longest, consecutive-running musical AIDS benefit in the country, played Saturday night to a packed house at the Dell Music Center.

The show featured soul-stirring performances by some of the most talented women in entertainment, including Faith Evans, A’ngela Winbush, Meli’sa Morgan, Monifah, Candace Benson, Philly’s Carol Riddick and more. The event featured on-site testing and testimonies of those who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS, including Revevernd Rae Lewis Thorton, an Emmy Award-winning activist who has lived with HIV/AIDS for over two decades. 

Check out my photos of the evening below:

Every Day is Halloween With Phish

Photos by Scott Olker

Photos by Steve Olker

The Mann Center in Fairmount Park was left a smoking heap of cedar ash and charred lawn Wednesday night, after the Phish from Vermont burned the entire place down over the course of their two-night run, on August 11th and 12th. Both shows had a classic Phish flavor, with set lists heavy on both vintage and new jam vehicles, bucket-list bustouts, quotes from the band’s most recent Halloween show in Las Vegas, and a five-song second set on Wednesday.

As noted in the constantly updated a cappella number “Grind,” the band has collectively lived more than 70,000 days. Though firmly in their fifties (or perhaps because of it?) they are absolutely in peak form, debuting new material on this summer tour like the straight-ahead funk rocker “No Men in No Man’s Land” that has earned a warm reception from diehard fans—but sounds normal enough to make an appearance on adult-rock radio.

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School of Rock Youth Slayed in AllStar Concert at World Café Live

The School of Rock AllStar Concert this week at World Café Live brought me back to a time of pop quizzes and social ladder-climbing. Yet, I doubt any members of the School of Rock band have to worry about winning popularity contests. Their all-star talents automatically make them the coolest kids in town.

An army of teen rock prodigies took center stage on Tuesday night to deliver a psychedelic show that would have made Jack Black proud. Two Allstar teams and two local school house bands took turns working the stage in half-hour increments throughout the night. At any given time there were about a dozen teens rocking the platform at once, accompanied by an instrument of their choosing. Instrumentalists included electric guitarists, keyboard players, and those on bass and drums. And let’s not forget about the show-stopping vocalists whose pipes were so powerful, it was hard to believe they’re barely post-pubescent.

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Lettuce and Umphrey’s McGee Bring Spectacular Light Show and Jams to the Waterfront

Photo by Stephen Olker

Photo by Stephen Olker

Lettuce, the band, isn’t wilting in the face of the sun currently blazing in their eyes as they range through their funk-space tune “Doubleheader.” An early show time of 5:45pm and a truly swampy night welcomed Lettuce, Umphrey’s McGee and their eager fans to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing.

Lettuce’s core have been playing together since their Berklee College of Music days, and it shows. This is a precision funk band. 100% tight, turn on a dime, popping with sax and trumpet, dialed in and connected. Eric Krasno has real soul in his guitar tone; he is never boring to listen to, either in this outfit or brother-band Soulive, which also features Lettuce’s Neal Evans on keys.

Bassist E.D. Coomes bounced like a Gummi Bear despite the increasingly soupy ambience, but too soon Lettuce left us to absorb the humidity and abundant aromas of the stepped Great Plaza to await the second set of the afternoon.

Umphrey’s McGee hit the River Stage at 7:36pm, opening with their stalwart jam vehicle “Bridgeless.” Debuted in 2004, this is a key composition in the canon – basically a 101 course in the signature Umphrey’s sound: ultra-dorky, all-the-notes prog-rock buzzed up with heavy metal and funk breakdowns. On second thought, that describes nearly every Umphrey’s song. They are nothing if not consistent.

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Parachute Wow World Café Live Despite Absence of Ailing Third Member


Will Anderson strapped on an acoustic guitar at World Café Live on Friday night and opened the show with the powerful yet simple “Hurricane.” After the first song Kit French joined Anderson on stage, multitasking on the keys and saxophone while singing backup. The two performed a couple seamless sets, and then I began to wonder when the third Parachute member, Johnny Stubblefield, would join them.

“Johnny is sick,” explained Anderson. Well, that answered that. They expressed some disappointment in their band member’s absence, but then Anderson turned to French and casually admitted, “More sex for us. Hahaha.” The sold-out crowd of mostly women broke into a fit of laughter. I too let out a few giggles and then I realized they probably weren’t joking.

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