Last week — to the horror of city art fans — we reported that DJ Lee Mayjahs (aka “The Buffman”) took a paint roller brush to Steve Powers‘s iconic Kurt Vile mural in Fishtown. After our reporting, Mayjahs reached out full of sympathies, and has since worked to restore the damage. According to Instagrammer @dasheikee, who posted this photo of the repaired mural, Mayjahs covered the mural with interior house paint, which “came completely off with a power wash.”
The Kurt Vile mural, as seen this morning. Photo by Adjua Fisher.
On Saturday, a Philadelphian decided to buff the Kurt Vile mural, causing shrieks of horror from hip Philadelphians and a Philadelphia public art meme.
People have said the reaction is overblown, but (1) it’s good when people discuss and debate public art and (2) of course it is. Literally everything on the Internet, even the most serious issues, can get overblown — there’s no sense complaining about it. But, sure, this isn’t the nose of the Old Man in the Mountain collapsing — the defacer has already apologized and even the artist says you should calm down. ESPO, aka Steve Powers, was similarly undisturbed about psychylustro covering up. “Nobody writing [graffiti] cares and any attempt to make it appear otherwise is click bait,” he told Hidden City (the Buzzfeed of Philadelphia Buildings, I guess) in May.
That is a point to take: Graffiti by its very nature is a transient art form, and murals come and go, too. David Guinn — who has more good murals in the city than anyone — once had four seasons in South Philadelphia. Now there are only three. The enormous Frank Sinatra mural is gone. Both were covered up by new residential construction, which is a better use of space than a mural. This one just disappeared in a more fantastic fashion. (And, obviously, the uproar was so great that it will be fixed up.)
But the mural got me thinking. I have passed the Kurt Vile mural several times where someone comments about how — while it’s cool — the mural is also an ad for his latest album. That’s weird, no? Did we paint a Boyz II Men album in the mid-’90s? (Not that they needed the increased sales.) A mural that’s also an ad is not exactly the end of the world: We have a mural for Jane Seymour’s jewelry line, after all, and a Vile album ad is certainly a better choice than that. But it got me thinking about other Philadelphians who deserve a mural, perhaps ones who aren’t selling anything. Time for some jokes mixed in with real suggestions!
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It was only a few weeks ago I was writing about Bud Selig’s visit to Philadelphia and his comments about the Phillies being the most philanthropic team in the MLB. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t too shabby, either. There’s Brent Celek’s “Take Flight” Foundation for kids’ education, DeMeco Ryan’s Foundation supporting children’s healthy eating, and Todd Herremans Foundation, which raises money for various children’s charities in need.
Now Connor Barwin has started a foundation called the Make the World Better Foundation (MTWB is an acronym for his parents’ names: Margret Thomas and William Barwin). Friday night Barwin hosted a concert at Union Transfer to raise money for Ralph Brooks Park at 20th and Tasker Streets, a park in need of renovation that Barwin would pass on his bike rides to “work” from his Rittenhouse Square residence. Plans were already underway to revitalize the park; they just needed that extra push — including money to meet the goals set out by the organizations that were in place, including Urban Roots, the ACE Mentor Program, and the Philadelphia Water Department.
The major fundraiser to get them over the hurdle was held Friday night at Union Transfer where Connor Barwin hosted a VIP cocktail party were fans could meet their favorite players. Afterward there was a concert where Kurt Vile and the Violators, The Districts and The Tontons played to a sold-out crowd. The artists donated their services to the organization as did the music hall, along with all proceeds from the bar that evening. When the total is tallied, Connor Barwin is going to match it. In no time, the Ralph Brooks Park will be a safe place for kids to play again.
Connor Barwin’s Make The World Better Foundation’s Ralph Brooks Park Fundraiser »
You know what the doctor says: A little music every day keeps the blahs away. To help, we round up a concert for every day of this week.
Having sold over 250 million albums as the group behind reggae-legend Bob Marley, the Wailers have continued to make music since his death in 1981. As part of Camden's Sunset Jazz Series, these guys will be playing for free at Wiggins Waterfront Park. Monday, June 16th, 8 p.m., Wiggins Waterfront Park, Mickle Boulevard at the River.
Tuesday: Arkells ($10-$12)
The Arkells won the Juno Award for New Group of the Year in 2010. Two years later they won the award for Group of the Year. After that sinks in, go check out some of their music on YouTube and you'll see why. These Canadian gents have a new album coming out soon, so check them out for a sneak preview of some of their new material. They have also been known to burst out into Motown tunes during their live shows, which is a must-see. Tuesday, June 17th, 8 p.m., North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar Street.
With her elegant yet weary vocals and sorrow-centric songwriting, Sharon Van Etten is making the type of folk music well beyond her years. Her unique voice and use of harmonies adds a dreamy layer to her music. In May she released her fourth album, Are We There, gaining her praise for continuing to mature in style, sound and voice. Wednesday, June 18th, 8 p.m., Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street.
Alice Smith blends features of rock, blues, jazz and soul into her music, making each song a unique, instantly catchy experience. After the success and hype that surrounded her first album (including a Grammy nod), Smith relaxed from the spotlight and started a family. She is finally back on the tour bus, and with her second album already a year old, be sure to keep an ear out for what's next. Thursday, June 19th, 8 p.m., Theatre of Living Arts, 334 South Street.
Eagles' linebacker John Connor Barwin's charity "Make the World Better" will be hosting a concert to raise money for a South Philly park in dire need of repair. Every single penny made from this show will be donated, and Connor Brown said he'll cut a personal check to match the total amount raised (doubling the total). Kurt Vile and the Violators and fellow local guys the Districts will be performing at no cost to the venue. Twenty bucks gets you into the show, but VIP tickets can get you a meet and greet with Eagles players and some sweet raffle prizes. Great music for a great cause. Friday, June 20th, 8 p.m., Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street.
Solstice in the City is an all-night event with drinks, games, and music. The Kimmel Center will transform into party central with a DJ playing in Commonwealth Plaza, skeeball, foosball, ping pong and more. Guests can also check out Verizon Hall, where there will be music acts going all through the night, concluding with indie rock veterans Real Estate. Bring in the summer with this pretty sweet bash at the Kimmel Center. Saturday, June 21st, 8 p.m., Verizon Hall, 300 South Broad Street.
The dad concert to end all dad concerts. You may be more familiar with these guys from radio stations that play hits from "back then," but these iconic groups still know how to put on a show. After famously finding their lead singer,Arnel Pineda, on YouTube in 2006, Journey has been hitting the recording studio and touring with a new-found vigor. Along with the Steve Miller Band in tow, expect a night of power ballads and old-fashioned arena rock. Sunday, June 22nd, 6:45 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbour Boulevard.
Eagles Linebacker Connor Barwin’s “Make the World Better” charity project is hosting a concert to raise money for much-needed improvements to Ralph Brooks Park in South Philadelphia. The park was constructed in honor of Ralph Brooks Jr., who, when he was 7 years old in 1988, had his spinal cord severed when he was struck by a bullet in a gang-related incident. While the park was named in his memory, the violence in the area has continued, leaving the park in dilapidating condition. The purpose of the effort is to give kids a safe place to play and have fun.
The concert will be on Friday June, 20th, and will feature local groups Kurt Vile and the Violators and the Districts, and Houston’s The Tontons. All money raised will be used to improve the park, which involves adding a new, state-of-the-art basketball court, safe and well-lit play areas, a large community garden and a mural by local artist Steve Powers.
VIP/Meet and Greet tickets are available, giving you the chance to hang with Barwin and his Eagles teammates LeSean McCoy, DeMeco Ryans, Jason Kelce, Brent Celek, Trent Cole and more. There will also be raffles for Eagles memorabilia, and some of Kurt Vile’s personal pedals and keyboards. Union Transfer has agreed to offer their venue for the concert free of charge and will be donating all bar proceeds from the night. Connor Brown has promised to match the funds raised from the show, doubling the total amount raised. It’s a night not to be missed. Get your tickets here.
We sent writers/photographers/brothers Christopher Sarkis Graham and Bryan Armen Graham to Randall’s Island in New York to check out this weekend’s three-day Governors Ball 2014. Here’s their photographic recap of the day, which kicked off with Philly’s own Kurt Vile:
Who better to help kick off a weekend of world class, genre-spanning pop music than Philly’s own Kurt Vile?
Early on Friday, Vile and his Violators helped usher in this year’s Governors Ball, a music festival that's settled into a three-day format since launching as a one-day event with an emphasis on dance acts in 2011.
Vile's vinyl psychedelia-flavored lo-fi was the perfect volley to Janelle Monáe’s cosmic funk that would soon follow.
OutKast might have had a bumpy start to their festival comeback run after a (in)famously lackluster Coachella reception, but Friday night's confident set — backed by a live band — showed they've worked out the kinks.
Guest stars kept the energy level cranked to 11, with Sleepy Brown weaving in and out of songs through the night, and Killer Mike emerging just in time for his verse in the finale, “The Whole World.”
Day 2 brought more pristine weather and hometown talent in West Philly expat RJD2.
The collage artist’s celebrated electro-analogue style laid just the tone for the day, leaving the crowd in a sea of fist-pumps with the “Ghostwriter” set closer.
Later, The Strokes took the main stage for their first festival appearance since 2011 — but if there was any dust to shake off, no one could spot it settle.
Soon after came a far-and-away fest highlight in Jack White, who may have swapped his trichromatic theme from a red to blue base, emerging on Saturday night’s cerulean-drenched stage — but White was sure to remind us he’s not turned on the work that’s secured him as rock’s saving grace for near 15 years.
Seems the only Jack project left untapped was the Dead Weather (something of a missed opportunity, considering the super-group cofounder Alison Mosshart was on deck for a Kills set on Sunday.)
Tyler, The Creator joined Earl Sweatshirt, Jasper Dolphin and Taco for a raucous, profanity-laden afternoon set that drew a massive crowd on Day 3, demonstrating why Odd Future is the biggest punk attraction in the business. Seattle folk-rockers The Head and The Heart alleviated the adrenaline rush with a set drawn heavily from Let's Be Still, their sophomore effort for Sub Pop Records. British singer and electronic producer James Blake reached into his back catalog with a sexy set drawing on his inimitable blend of R&B, soul and electronic influences. Homestanding veterans Interpol delivered a tight, focused set before a massive crowd that conflicted with eccentric Australian electro-pop duo Empire of the Sun, whose "Walking On a Dream" set an overflow tent crowd into hysterics.
Vampire Weekend drew the bigger crowd of Sunday night's two headliners, but Axwell & Ingrosso — veterans of EDM kings Swedish House Mafia — closed the festival with a bang (literally) with a fist-pumping set punctuated by fireworks above the stage.
The trail of defunct, failed New York City music festivals is long (remember All Points West, Vineland, Field Day, Across the Narrows or Bonnaroo N.E.?) but another successful weekend on Randall’s Island proves that Governors Ball just may have cracked the code. Keep scrolling for more photos from the three-day festival.
Kurt Vile and the Violaters
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
It dawned on someone over the weekend that Philly indie rocker Kurt Vile and New Zealand pop star Lorde look an awful lot alike. So they started a Tumblr, “Lorde or Kurt Vile?,” where they collect photos of the two looking especially similar. That long curly hair. The lanky frames. Throw on a pair of dark shades, and sometimes it really is hard to tell them apart. See what you think here.
More morning headlines after the jump
Australian alt-rockers Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds just announced that Philly’s Kurt Vile and the Violators will open at their show at the Mann on July 25. New Jersey singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins will be there, too.
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Kurt Vile covers Nine Inch Nails
The AV Club says:
Kurt Vile didn’t seem the most obvious candidate to cover Nine Inch Nails’ 1989 classic “Down In It,” since Vile isn’t usually one for sharp industrial angles. But he rose to the challenge here, adding some of his own buzzy haze to the song, accompanied by a diminutive keyboard and an iPod. It doesn’t sound like anything on Vile’s recent Wakin On A Pretty Daze, but nonetheless might provide a good introduction to what he’s all about. (Or you could just try Smoke Ring For My Halo.) Enjoy.
Remember, you can see Kurt Vile play in the courtyard at City Hall, tonight at 5:30 p.m.