PIFA, Cinedelphia & 47 Other Things To Do This Weekend

Knitting Peace — part of PIFA. [Photo by Mats Backer]

Knitting Peace — part of PIFA. [Photo by Mats Backer]

Friday, April 8

Read more »

Concert Review: Andrew Bird Gets Serious at the Electric Factory

Andrew Bird [Photo by Chris Sikich]

Andrew Bird [Photo by Chris Sikich]

Opening, as he often does, by picking away at his violin to create beautiful riffs that meander between dissonance and classical music ruminations, Andrew Bird set a mysterious and wondrous tone Monday night at the Electric Factory. His set drew heavily from the brand new Are You Serious, but he employed some of his older tricks as well, like talking to himself while singing to the crowd. The most striking example of this was “Left Handed Kisses,” a duet (on the album with Fiona Apple) he performed solo. Matters of the heart figured heavily, as on “Bellevue,” which he prefaced by saying it was unfinished on the album but had since reached a finer ending.

A master at looping his many instruments — be they guitars, violins, or his singular whistling style — Bird really took flight with older works like “Imitosis” and “Plasticities,” creating a vivid pastiche of electronic and acoustic sonic delights. His crack band added further dimensions to these songs.

A startling display of psychedelic rock that runs the gamut from Grateful Dead jam band status to the eccentricities of modern alt rockers like Grizzly Bear, openers Boogarins, from Brazil, were stunning to watch, especially lead guitarist and vocalist Dinho Almeida.

Slideshow below. More photos by Chris Sikich at sikichphotography.com.

Read more »

Concert Review: Lucius Brings the Love

Lucius [Photo by Chris Sikich]

Lucius [Photo by Chris Sikich]

With colorful capes and hairdos like waves of orange frosting, Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig — lead singers of Brooklyn indie pop band Lucius — were otherworldly apparitions to match their music at Union Transfer on Saturday night. There’s something almost inhuman about the precision with which their voices intermingled “Turn It Around” and “Gone Insane.” Both of their LPs were well represented, with 2016’s Good Grief leading the way from opening “Madness” to the show closer of “Better Look Back.”

Lucius’ music often offers an emotional release. “Go Home” does it with a folk sound and a resounding chorus of “I don’t need you anyway/ I don’t need you/ Go home/ Go home” transformed into a collective plea, with the crowd singing along. Good Grief pop gem “Born Again Teen,” meanwhile, is bursting with dance energy.

Slideshow below. More photos by Chris Sikich at sikichphotography.com.

Read more »

Philly Music Royalty Turned Out to Celebrate Lee Andrews’ Life

Lee Andrews (left); his children Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and Donn T (right). Photos | Bobbi Booker

Lee Andrews (left); his children Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson and Donn T (right). Photos | Bobbi Booker

A collective gasp erupted in the Philadelphia music community when news of doo-wop superstar Lee Andrews had died March 16th at the age of 79. It was over five decades ago that Andrews — then a Bartram High schooler — formed and become the lead singer of the 1950s doo-wop group Lee Andrews & The Hearts. Andrews’ strong-but-tender tenor voice and the groups’ harmonizing four-part vocal base was the foundation of The Hearts’ hard-to-beat sound that influenced similar vocal acts like The Moonglows, The Orioles, The Drifters, The 5 Royales, The Five Keys, The Midnights and The Ravens.

On Saturday, a memorial tribute to celebrate Andrews was held, as per his request, at the Clef Club of Philadelphia. Born Arthur Lee “Andrew” Thompson in the summer of 1936 in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Lee relocated with his parents to Philly as a toddler. He dropped his first name and added an “s” to Andrew, and began performing as Lee Andrews as a teen. His father, Beachy Thompson, sang with the pioneering gospel group The Dixie Hummingbirds, so one could say Lee was born into — and contributed to — a storied musical lineage. In addition to being the father of The RootsAhmir “Questlove” Thompson, Thompson and his wife, Jacqui, parented a daughter, the enigmatic vocalist Donn Thompson — known by audiences as Donn T.

According to his children, it was just two weeks ago that they discovered 50 pages of Lee’s handwritten life story and that list morphed into a final wish list that only a sage performer such as Lee could craft from the wealth of his experiences. In the months prior to his death, Lee had taken pen to paper and charted his life performing for sold-out audiences at Madison Square Garden, The Beekan Theater, The Bottom Line and Radio City Music Hall in NYC. He told of taking the stage of The Spectrum in Philadelphia and held-over performances at the Valley Forge Music Fair and the Claridge in Atlantic City, N.J., along with the countless nightclub and television appearances throughout the United States and Europe.  Read more »

Concert Review: Japanese Breakfast Leaves ’Em Satisfied

Japanese Breakfast [Photo Chris Sikich]

Japanese Breakfast [Photo Chris Sikich]

Frenzied musical euphoria emanated from every note and sweat droplet of Japanese Breakfast on the occasion of their Friday night record release show. Ortlieb’s was jam-packed to hear the Philadelphia band led by master rocker Michelle Zauner (also of Little Big League).

Playing almost all of Psychopomp, Zauner and company took the crowd on a journey through the sorrow of the loss of her mother to the peaks and valleys of existing in the now. Songs like “The Woman That Loves You” got the crowd moving while “Everybody Wants to Love You” was so hooky it did not want to leave my head days later. Psychopomp is certainly one of 2016’s finest and its live translation was immaculate.

Myrrias and Littler opened. Both have a Philadelphia pedigree and were superb musical treats. Myrrias shimmered in indie psychedelia. It was impossible to not move to their rock beats. Littler played with a more punk rock edge that popped and hissed in the ears.

Slideshow below. More photos by Chris Sikich at sikichphotography.comRead more »

Concert Review: Laura Stevenson Delivers New and Old Favorites

Laura Stevenson  [Photo by Chris Sikich]

Laura Stevenson [Photo by Chris Sikich]

Another night, another full house at Boot & Saddle last Thursday. No surprise, as Laura Stevenson is one of the true stars of pop-rock. With 2015’s Cocksure as a guiding light, Stevenson and her band wowed the crowd with a swift, 19-song set.

Opening with the first song from Cocksure, “Out With a Whimper,” Stevenson took a rabid Philly crowd on a tour of her rock psyche. With frequent singalongs from a healthy portion of the crowd, songs like “Runner” from 2013’s Wheel were music celebrations, despite their inherent pain and longing. And there were moments of true fun, like the semi-cover of The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton” as “Alex Billig” to commemorate the keyboard /accordion player of the same name. Between the challenges of playing some songs from Cocksure live for the first time, Stevenson responded to a request for an older cut with an affirmative; a joyfully rocking “Beets Untitled” followed.

The country-ish Chris Farren started the night out. Crying came next with its hearty throwback to a 1980s many wish was still alive: With hints of shredding metal and bubblegum, they are a unique musical vision in 2016.

Slideshow below. More photos by Chris Sikich at sikichphotography.com. Read more »

« Older Posts  |  Newer Posts »