Interview: West Philly Writer/Musician Alex Smith

Oscar at rest.

Oscar at rest.

West Philly’s Alex Smith is a man of many talents. I first encountered him at City Paper where I edited and assigned his pieces on arts and music. Then I realized he was everywhere: writing fiction (alone and with his collective of likeminded visionaries in Metropolarity), making comics, playing music (in Solarized) and more. When I finally read his NSFW sci-fi adventure comic Believers — and heard Metropolarity was up for an award — it seemed like a good excuse to get inside his head.

Believers is a fast-paced and funny action comic. Do you dream of continuing the adventures of Oscar?

Thanks, I like to keep storytelling light but the stakes relatively high. I would love to continue Oscar’s adventures, however my collaborator Jacob Mazer who runs Animal Kingdom is a pretty busy person! It would mostly depend on him because I could not imagine anyone else at this time drawing Oscar, although you never know. Oscar is one of my favorite characters I’ve created because there’s such a vast amount of weird stuff I can pull from in my own life to project onto the page, as well as so many rich possibilities with pulling him into a universe of kooky demigods and space aliens he knows nothing about.

Believers isn’t like most comics — starting with its gay Black stoner main character. Do you see comics culture in general becoming more accepting of new voices and perspectives? Read more »

23 Things to Do This Weekend

Tennis will attempt to initiate a staring contest with you at underground Arts on Saturday. Do not accept this challenge. (Luca Venter)

Tennis will attempt to initiate a staring contest with you at Underground Arts on Saturday. (Luca Venter)

FRIDAY, MARCH 17

Fishbone @ Underground Arts
The original lineup of this revered funk/punk/reggae/ska band returns. Kinda surprised this one’s not sold out. Kids today.

Coriolanus @ Lantern Theater
Says theater critic David Fox: “Every inch of the playing area (including some of the house) is pressed into service in Charles McMahon’s production, and the updated visual world cleverly suggests Road Warrior — with all the visceral impact that implies.” Runs through April 16. Read more »

Just Listen: New Songs by Lushlife, Emily Ana Zeitlyn and more

Philly's Taiwan Housing Project will release Veblen Death Mask on Kill Rock Stars in May.

Philly’s Taiwan Housing Project will release Veblen Death Mask on Kill Rock Stars in May.

Emily Ana Zeitlyn, “Darkness”
The Arc Divers frontwoman just posted this gorgeous dedication to Leonard Cohen she recorded in November. It’s folky and soulful and brooding and hopeful.

Lushlife, “Foreground”
Rapper/producer Raj Haldar delivers a rich, moody Grizzly Bear cover as part of Rough Trade Publishing’s “A Song A Day Keeps the Pain Away” series that benefits the Southern Poverty Law Center. It’s also a companion piece to “Indian Americans won’t be safe as long as the White House is inciting fear,” which he wrote for the Washington Post this week. Read more »

Music: 8 Shows to See This Week

Allison Crutchfield of Waxahatchee and her killer Hop Along tattoo. (Jesse Riggins)

Allison Crutchfield of Waxahatchee and her killer Hop Along tattoo. (Jesse Riggins)

Waxahatchee @ Johnny Brenda’s | Wednesday, March 15
Born in the Birmingham DIY scene, kickass singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield has adopted Philly and Philly has adopted her over the past half-decade or so. It’s a win-win. As Waxahatchee, Crutchfield turns personal turmoils and triumphs into gorgeously literary songs that stick in your ears all day long. She rocks:

Puddles Pity Party @ Trocadero | Friday, March 17
Puddles is a big giant clown who sings like God’s favorite demon. His shows are enthralling, unnerving and unforgettable. You should see Puddles perform at least once in your life. Read more »

Let’s Have a Regina Spektor Film Fest

Hats off to Regina Spektor. (Shervin Lainez)

Hats off to Regina Spektor. (Shervin Lainez)

Either you’re excited about Regina Spektor’s show tonight because you have tickets or you’re sad it’s sold out — or you and I don’t understand each other. Those are the three options, and all of them sound like a good excuse to watch a bunch of Spektor videos.

“Samson”

Based loosely on the story of the dude with the fateful haircut (loosely because, like, they didn’t have Wonder bread during Biblical times), this song is so lovely she did it twice. “Samson” first appeared on 2002’s under-appreciated Songs only to be polished/shortened for a wider audience on 2006’s Begin to Hope. It’s a genuine heartbreaker and the video, directed by animator Peter Sluszka, is appropriately moody, full of flickering black and white and magical abstraction. Read more »

25 Things to Do in Philly This Weekend

Creepoid plays Underground Arts on Friday.

Creepoid plays Underground Arts on Friday.

FRIDAY, MARCH 10

Creepoid @ Underground Arts
A full night of Philly rock featuring Creepoid, whose pysch-grunge sound makes me think of Nirvana, Sabbath and the fact that every square inch of this city used to be a cemetery. Also on the bill: Ecstatic Vision, Mike Polizze of Purling Hiss and The Spirit Of The Beehive.

Pennsylvania Ballet @ Academy of Music
This “rollicking, lighthearted production” features pirates, swordplay and romance. Runs through March 19. Read more »

Sound Into Sight: Exhibition of Concert Photos Opens Friday

R.E.M. (Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, 2008) I began shooting because of this band, my favorite band of all time. I had a point-and-shoot and was lucky enough to be in the front row. Little did anyone at the show know that this was their last show ever in their home state.

R.E.M. (Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, 2008)  Says Sikich: “I began shooting because of this band, my favorite band of all time. I had a point-and-shoot and was lucky enough to be in the front row. Little did anyone at the show know that this was their last show ever in their home state.”

Two things about concert photography in 2017:
1. There’s more of it now than ever before.
2. Most of it’s not so good.

The smartphone era has its upsides, but when it comes to enjoying and memorializing shows, I’d say it’s a net negative. Read more »

Music: 6 Shows to See in Philly This Week

Aphra plays the Barbary on Wednesday.

Aphra plays the Barbary on Wednesday.

International Women’s Day Benefit Concert @ Underground Arts | Wednesday, March 8

This benefit for the new Crossroads Women’s Center — “a grassroots, multi-racial, community-based, self-help center” in Germantown — is packed with righteous Philly talent: Louie Louie, Queen of Jeans, Molly Rhythm, Hemming, Ivy Sole, Grayling, Manic Pixi, Harmony Woods, The Pretty Greens, Troi Lauren, Ladybird, Resilient, Little Strike (see below) and Sweetbriar Rose. Read more »

Music: 6 Shows to See in Philly This Week

Dua Lipa is at the Foundry at the Fillmore on Thursday. Photo by Nicole Nodland

Dua Lipa is at the Foundry at the Fillmore on Thursday. Photo by Nicole Nodland

Dua Lipa @ Foundry at the Fillmore | Thursday, March 2
This young pop singer out of London is on Entertainment Weekly’s list of “10 Artists Who Will Rule 2017” and her self-titled debut album, slated for a June release, made it onto Billboard’s roundup of the year’s 40 most-anticipated albums.

The-Dream @ Theatre of Living Arts | Thursday, March 2
Singer, songwriter and producer The-Dream, who co-wrote hits like Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” in addition to releasing his own studio albums, is on tour for a new EP, Love You to Death.

Read more »

Songwriters, Win a Chance to Play at Firefly Music Festival

Quincy Mumford performs at the 2016 Philadelphia Songwriters Project finals show at Ardmore Music Hall. Photo by Doerthe Externest

Quincy Mumford performs at the 2016 Philadelphia Songwriters Project finals show at Ardmore Music Hall. Photo by Doerthe Externest

Submit a song to the Philadelphia Songwriters Project’s annual competition and you just might win a summer tour. This year’s theme is Songs of Our Time and all genres of music are welcome, including instrumental. Read more about what fits into the theme here.  Read more »

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