Music: 11 Shows to See in the Next 7 Days

Alvvays plays Union Transfer on Friday.

Herbie Hancock @ Kimmel Center | Wednesday, October 4
Damn, I forgot how weird the video for “Rockit” is. I guess with the synths and the robot voice, the song was deemed “futuristic” by 1983 standards, so video full of kicking, writhing, nodding android parts made sense. All these years later, “Rockit” — which swept the Grammys and the MTV Awards back in the day — remains an uplifting instrumental hip-hop tune but the video is like a house of horrors for our robots companions that do our chores, cook our food and tuck us in at night.


Zakk Sabbath @ Underground Arts | Thursday, October 5
Yeah, it’s a cover band but also that’s Zakk Wylde up there, Bayonne-born guitarlord and Ozzy’s main axeman from ’88 to ’07. (Meaning he’s the dude doing all those shrieking trills on No More Tears.) And the rest of Zakk Sabbath has Ozzy, QOTSA and Danzig stints on their résumés as well. Read more »

The Return of Daniel Johnston

A press photo for The Devil and Daniel Johnston. (Jeff Feuerzeig)

It’s natural to wonder and worry about Daniel Johnston. The “outsider” musician with the impish voice and emotionally engaging lyrics — championed over the years by Kurt Cobain, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Lou Barlow and so many more — has had his share of tough moments: the derailed shows, the hospitalizations, the plane crash… Mental and physical ailments, among them schizophrenia, depression and diabetes, have been a factor in his career, forcing the lo-fi artist to tour only sporadically and release just a fraction of the reported thousands of songs he’s recorded at home over the years.

A recent profile in the New York Times describes a tired but not altogether unhealthy Johnston loping around his house in Texas just before the launch of his current tour, which has him performing with members of Wilco, Built To Spill and others. In Philly he’ll be accompanied by Modern Baseball and The Districts, two of our city’s finest who will likely be granted little if any rehearsal time with the star ahead of time. It sounds rough, but the system has worked in the past; I saw Johnston perform with members of the Capitol Years in 2008 and it was an entrancing if low-energy rock show.

It was altogether more pleasant than the time I saw him play solo at the Khyber years before. Devotees in home-sharpie’d t-shirts shouted over their hero, indie-rock Pharisees who want you to know that they know all the lyrics. They didn’t seem to notice how disgusted Johnston was with their behavior. He was, after all, the star, not their pet. It’s a distinction that gets blurred sometimes, as Johnston has over the years been propped up and hailed as a genius by his more famous friends and fans. In 2013, the A/V Club pondered whether Johnston was “a victim of hipster exploitation.” It can’t be that bad — I doubt anybody’s making much money off of Johnston — but it does qualify as a situation. Read more »

Video Breakdown: “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes

Yes, about to kill a person.

British prog/pop/prog-pop band Yes — who play the Kimmel Center on Sunday — had been active since 1968 and inactive for a year before rejiggering and scoring a number one hit in 1983 with “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” It’s the catchiest, most popular song in the Yes catalog, but it’s still pretty weird. Let’s watch the video. Which is also really weird… Read more »

Video Breakdown: I Love The ’90s Tour

Snap! portended a ghastly future wherein humans lived on scaffolding and chanted mindlessly.

Sponsored by VH1, the I Love the ’90s Tour (at BB&T Pavilion, Friday, September 1) promises an upbeat nostalgia trip for oldheads of a certain age: TLC, Naughty by Nature, Mark McGrath, Montell Jordan, C+C Music Factory and Snap! (exclamation point theirs). Chances are you’ll be too busy dancing to think about the strange, sometimes grim futures their songs and videos predicted:

TLC, “Waterfalls”
Apocalypse type: waterworld
Old society doomed by: delusion
New society defined by: stupid men, raised sea levels Read more »

This Fourth of July, You’ve Got Options

Mary J. Blige and Boyz II Men play on the Parkway on July 4. (Visit Philadelphia/Rich Myers)

Some people just hate crowds. And some people have to stay home to keep the dogs from losing their minds, and then posting about it of Facebook. For everybody else, maybe you want to venture out and watch the fireworks this year. If so, you have a decision to make.

Option #1
Wawa Welcome America Concert/Fireworks @ Benjamin Franklin Parkway
This is the obvious choice, the time-honored tradition: First the big concert then the big fireworks display over the Art Museum.
The Entertainment: Still no Roots, but the lineup’s impressive — Mary J. Blige, Boyz II Men, Mandy Gonzalez (from Hamilton), The Philly POPS, Tony DeSare and Luis Figueroa. Also: foodtrucks, beer gardens, some dude with a jackass getting in trouble maybe.
Sightlines: Well-organized people already have their tickets to be near the stage, or their gameplan for getting to the Parkway early to stake out a spot. You’ll have to work around them and stake out a patch of ground for yourself. The concert will be simulcast via lots of screens along the Parkway. Try to find a tree-less clearing. Better yet, do you know anybody with a roofdeck or balcony pointing in the right direction?
Crowds: Massive. The long trudge home is part of the deal.
Concert: 7-9:30 p.m.
Fireworks: 9:30-ish

Option #2
Freedom Festival Fireworks @ Delaware River Waterfront
Continuing a recently established tradition, Camden’s having its big Fourth of July party in Wiggins Park, and setting off its fireworks over the Delaware.
Entertainment: In Wiggins Park you can see WAR and The Cherry Poppin’ Daddies starting at 6:30 p.m. On the Philly side? BYO.
Sightlines: Penn’s Landing and lots of point South of the Ben Franklin Bridge should offer decent views. Know anybody in Society Hill Towers?
Crowds: Not as huge as on the Parkway, but still lots of people. Also may call for some trudging.
Fireworks: 9:30-ish

See Also: The Phillies will be doing their fireworks thing after the games on Thursday and Friday.


Get $10 Tickets to See the Naughton Sisters at Curtis Institute

Christina and Michelle Naughton

Christina and Michelle Naughton

The Curtis Institute of Music is offering Philly Mag Ticket readers special $10 tickets for the upcoming homecoming performance of Christina and Michelle Naughton, the identical twin pianists who are taking the national and international piano world by storm.

The concert, which is scheduled for this Sunday, September 20 at 3 pm, will feature a mix of genres and music from Bach to John Adams. The Princeton-born twins, who studied at Curtis, were recently interviewed by Philly Mag Ticket: You can read that piece here.

To purchase your $10 seats (normally a $25 value), visit this special link.

Joshua Thomas and His Obsession with Joni Mitchell

This is the (really old) YouTube video that started it all:

This cover of Joni Mitchell‘s “A Case of You,” by singer Joshua Thomas, caught the attention of Mitchell’s neighbor, who showed Mitchell an entire series of covers that Thomas uploaded to YouTube. Several months later, when Thomas met Mitchell at a concert, she immediately recognized him from the videos. Read more »

REVIEW: Taylor Swift Brings Down-Home Charm to Lincoln Financial Field

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Last night was my first Taylor Swift concert, and I learned a Taylor Swift concert is many things. There are costume changes—10 by my count, over the course of two and a half hours—and each one will involve sequins or rhinestones or fringe, perhaps leather or thigh-high boots, and almost always an exposed midriff (though never, ever navel). There are Fitbit-like wristbands for each concertgoer that flash and flicker, creating a mesmerizing light show across the crowd. There are surprises, and for anyone attending tonight’s second sold-out show, beware of potential spoilers ahead. There is excessive pandering to the hometown, though most of the assembled will consider it bonding, and weirdly, I sort of did, too. And you will become a part of a 50,000-strong group therapy session. There is also music.

Read more »

Tickets to Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett at Borgata Go On Sale at 10AM

Via Shutterstock.

Via Shutterstock.

It’s Mother Monster like you’ve never heard her before: The epic duo of Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett are coming to the Borgata in Atlantic City on July 24 with their “Cheek to Cheek” tour, and tickets go on sale at 10AM this morning.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a giant rock, most likely you’ve heard and seen Gaga and Tony perform classic jazz hits from their duo album, which just won a Grammy on Sunday evening. It’s been said once, but it is worth saying again: This is amazing music, and we finally get to hear Gaga reach vocal heights outside of her pop routines. Case in point:

And we can’t forget the iconic Tony Bennett. At 88 years old, he can still croon like none other. The event is a perfect compliment to the Atlantic City resort’s new OUT at Borgata LGBT initiative, which includes plenty of travel and entertainment opportunities.

Tickets to the show run $125-250, and can be purchased here.

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