Before we even had time to take notice, Philadelphia has situated itself as the capital of indie rock. Just ask any in-the-know music aficionado. In April, Noisey wrote that “It feels like ALL the bands are from Philly at the moment.” When Rolling Stone put local band Hop Along’s latest album on their list of the 45 Best Albums of the Year So Far, it wasn’t without a “What’s up with Philly lately?” shoutout to the City of Brotherly Love. But perhaps the most impressive declaration of Philly’s indie rock dominance is Stereogum’s recent, nearly 8,000-word cover story on the our city’s budding indie-rock scene.
This might be a bit overwhelming to the casual music fan, who may still think of The Hooters when asked about “Philadelphia rock and roll.” If this is you, and you’re looking to better familiarize yourself with the key players, look no further. Here, we present 16 local bands you should blast in your earbuds right now.
b’lieve i’m goin down will be the title of Philly singer-songwriter KurtVile‘s followup to 2013’s Wakin’ On a Pretty Daze. The album is expected to be released this fall in conjunction with a world-tour schedule that will bring him to Philly’s Union Transfer with Waxahatchee on October 9th.
In a conversation we had with him last fall, Vile told us a few things that have been inspiring him through the process of making his new album. Perhaps his quote offers a peek at what to expect when b’elieve drops later this year: “A couple of my favorite songwriters right now are classic-period Randy Newman, and an amazing songwriter named John Prine. His lyrics are heartbreaking. There’s certain Southern Gothic fiction that I’m getting heavy into — Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy books. I’ve always been consuming. That’s just part of my personality, and it feeds into my music.”
Check out behind the scenes footage of him working on the album at Rancho de la Luna Studio in Joshua Tree, California. His full tour schedule is below:
Living up to the album’s title, Vile has recorded songs everywhere from Brooklyn and Southern California to Georgia and, of course Philadelphia.
“I’ve developed this routine at home. I wait for the kids to go to bed, then my wife falls asleep. Then it’s dark and quiet enough for me to work on songs. I just keep going later and later, until sunrise,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I wanted to get back into the habit of writing a sad song on my couch, with nobody waiting on me. I really wanted it to sound like it’s on my couch — not in a lo-fi way, just more unguarded and vulnerable.”
The festival takes place this July at Union Park in Chicago. Besides Vile, the roster also includes Wilco, Sleater Kinney and Chance the Rapper, all of whom are headlining a different night of the three-day event.
The festival takes place July 17-19. There are a limited number of three-day passes available for $150, and single days passes are $65. Buy them here. Full music lineup below:
Philly indie rock star Kurt Vile joined Warpaint on stage this weekend during the Red Bull Sound Select’s 30 Days in L.A. music festival. The group brought him out to perform the dreamy “Baby from their 2010 album The Fool. Vile will perform his own show at the 30 Days in L.A. on November 21st.
Local band The War on Drugs was on last night’s episode of Conan. The indie-rock band, with members Adam Granduciel, David Hartley, Robbie Bennett and Charlie Hall, performed their song “Burning.” Co-founded by Philly’s Kurt Vile before departing for a solo career, The War on Drugs released their third studio album, Lost in the Dream, in March. Flavorwire has since called it one of the best albums of the year.
The current issue of Philly Mag is filled to the brim with conversations from 50 of the city’s most intriguing movers and shakers—from politicians to gossip mongers to celebrity chefs. It goes without saying, then, that it wouldn’t be complete without a chat with Philly’s most-buzzed about musician, Kurt Vile.
Here are some snippets of our chat, where he shares secrets about his creative process and staying true to his indie roots while “doing whatever I can … to be more of a success career-wise and financially.” You can read the rest here.
PM: When does the process for creating a new album begin?
KURT: I’m always creating — at least writing. One thing ricochets off the other. There comes a time where you’ve accumulated a bunch of songs and it’s time to make a new record. Then you go out on the road and perform it. That music takes on a life of its own, because you play it differently every night.
PM: Sounds like you find most of your inspiration on the road.
KURT: Not necessarily. The stuff I write on the road is more universal. There are other times, like when I visit my parents — they live in the suburbs, but compared to where I live in Northern Liberties, it’s like the country. There, I can tap into playing acoustic or banjo in their backyard. Then there’s when I’m in the studio, coming close to a deadline. I feel like some of my best work comes out of that, when all of a sudden you can fill in any blanks, music-wise or lyric-wise, on the fly, because you have your mojo going. Read more »
Few indie bands pull as much weight as Neutral Milk Hotel. Despite going on an indefinite hiatus in 1998, the group’s influence on countless artists to follow has made their 2013 reunion tour a can’t-miss event. The band's original lineup from their most successful album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, will all be present, making this a true reunion concert, and a big deal for indie enthusiasts. Monday, July 21st, 6 p.m., The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue.
Even if you don't know him by name, odds are you know more than a few of James Tayor's tunes. The grammy-winning singer-songwriter's heartfelt and resonant songs have made their way into numerous movies and TV shows. An equally talented guitarist, Taylor continues to perform for audiences around the world. For an intimate look at the prestigious artist and a setlist that is sure to please, be sure to grab your tickets now. Tuesday, July 22nd, 8 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, The Victor Building, 1 Market Street #2B.
Roots rock by way of Connecticut, Bronze Radio Return have been busy on the festival circuit this summer. With stops at Bonnaroo and Firefly already under their belt, you can also catch these guys at Lollapalooza come August. For something a little closer to home—and a little less crowded—they will be playing a free show Wednesday at Haddon Lake Park as part of Camden's Sundown Music Series. As their popularity continues to grow, expect these guys to keep touring, but don't expect another chance to catch them for free. Wednesday, July 23rd, 7:30 p.m., Haddon Lake Park.
Thursday: Purling Hiss feat Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band (Free)
Nick Cave is an Australian icon. With an impressive backlog of music spanning four decades, Cave (along with his backing band, the Bad Seeds) maintains a big following with poignant lyrics and dipping in and out of different genres with each new album. Joining the accomplished artist will be Philly favorite Kurt Vile and the Violators. Friday, July 25th, 6 p.m., The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue.
The second of the three-day XPoNential Music Festival features a trio of artists that, for $30, is a great deal. Solo artist and record producer Ryan Adams will close out the night after performances from folk rock group Dawes and solo artist Jenny Lewis, who has been gaining popularity for her new music video featuring a cross-dessing Anne Hathaway and Kristen Stewart. While tickets for the Susquehanna Bank Center show don't get you access to the other festival shows during the day, these artists are well worth the cost of admission. Saturday, July 26th, 7 p.m, Susquehanna Bank Center, The Victor Building, 1 Market Street #2B.
Forgive me for double-dipping, but when Beck comes to Philly, it's going to be the show to see that night. The XPoNential Music Festival will come to a close with the popular experimental guitarist at the Susquehanna Bank Center. Joining him at the SBC will be Lancaster-based group the Districts as well as Band of Horses. Tickets are roughly the same as the Saturday show (unless you want to get up close) and is still a better deal than festival passes, if you were just looking to catch the bigger names. Sunday, July 16th, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, The Victor Building, 1 Market Street #2B.
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.