Key Fest At-A-Glance, Part One: A powerful pop and hip-hop opening night with ILL Doots, Kate Faust, Hardwork Movement and Joie Kathos - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Ill Doots | Photo courtesy of the artist

Are you ready to party? We’re ready to party. The opening night of our second-ever KEY FEST is upon us and we’re elated to once again program a weekend of gigs celebrating the spectrum of incredible music and artistry that thrives in Philadelphia and its surrounding region.

As we did last year, we’re bringing you daily lineup rundowns to get you primed for the show, and I can’t imagine a more energetic roster of artists to kick this party into high gear. Dig in below.

“They only love you when you’re gone,” raps Joie Kathos, and while that might have seemed to her like it true when she was struggling on the come-up a couple years back, this multifaceted entertainer has established herself a powerful niche in the city’s scene. She spits thought-provoking rhymes over vibe-heavy beats and rocks the stage with charisma, but she also is a behind-the-scenes powerhouse, a dancer and choreographer, and a powerful public speaker. I was thrilled to see her in the mix of MCs paying tribute to Philly great Bahamadia at Johnny Brenda’s last night (her cover of “Spontaneity” had Queen B herself rocking in the wings) and I’m equally psyched to see her rock a set of her own material tonight at MilkBoy.

Hardwork Movement: what more can I say about these guys? They’re high energy. They’re pure positivity. They channel the greats (Nas, DigPlans, Pharcyde being a couple names I dropped in their Key Studio Session this week) while coming across pretty great themselves. Like I told Chris Malo at JUMP Philly when he was writing a story on them for the spring issue, the band keeps one foot in their roots and heritage with the other foot in the now, presenting songs from a twentysomething’s perspective while surfacing sounds from deep in their musical upbringing. There will be horns and flute. There will be a DJ. There will be lots of jumping around.

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If anybody is Philly’s answer to Lorde, it is Kate Faust. We’ve been following her career for years at this point, from her rootsy late-teenage bands to her jazzy music school outfit Lady, to the solo work that finds her digging deep into the world of electropop production and vibe creation. She totally embraces a pop star persona while pushing the envelope of pop mystique; when Kate played with Bilal and Son Little at Underground Arts last summer, I was blown away by how much command she had on stage. I know that the more projects she releases, the bigger and bigger things we can expect from her. This set tonight is going to be one for the books.

If you took all of the above artists and distilled them into a single super-group, that band would sound a heck of a lot like ILL Doots. The seven-piece is hip-hop at its heart, but it also challenges conventional thinking of what it means to be hip-hop in 2016. An electronic pop undercurrent is as much a part of its sound as live band instrumentation. The band rocks house parties and nightclubs, but also extends its reach into other realms of the performing arts; click here to read their interview with our David Murrell about their recent involvement in the theatrical production An Octoroon at The Wilma Theater. Every month, ILL Doots throws a huge #FourthFriday party, and this month they’re bringing that party to the MilkBoy stage for Key Fest. We could not be more pumped.

Key Fest Night One kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. at MilkBoy, 1100 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. For tickets and more information, click here

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