The Skeleton Key: Dancehall reggae from Jamaica, psych noise from Italy, post-punk from England…September has you covered!
It’s unreal just how much is happening in Philly this month. I know, I know: I say that every column. But it’s true! Never forget how lucky we are to be living in this great city that has so much going on every single night. Welcome to the September edition of the Skeleton Key. From space rock at PhilaMOCA to Mexican Independence Day at Penn’s Landing to all kinds of punk: we’ve got you covered.
Let’s start off with some of that punk! This Thursday you have to make a very important choice, so start thinking about it right now. Here are your options:
● Shopping and Downtown Boys at PhilaMOCA. When Shopping came through last March they played one of best shows of the year, with French Vanilla and Control Top at Johnny Brenda’s. This time the Gang of Four-core British post-punkers are on a dream bill with Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys, who bring their own kind of dancy political punk – just as fun as Shopping but a bit more Nation of Ulysses and Bruce Springsteen – to the bill. [TIX + INFO]
● Lost Balloons, Canadian Rifle, Pale Angels, and Todd Killingz at Everybody Hits. If you were to describe this show in one word it would be rock n’ roll. Lost Balloons is Jeff Burke from Marked Men and Yusuke Okada of Suspicious Beasts. Their mid-tempo pop thing is so good that even my mom enjoyed herself when I brought her to her first ever DIY show to see them, Dark Thoughts, and Radiator Hospital a year or so ago. [TIX + INFO]
● Palberta, Olivia Neutron-John, Dolly, and Juice at Underground Arts. Back in June the Philly/NYC freaky pop three piece Palberta were supposed to have a local record release show for Roach Goin’ Down, their new one on Wharf Cat Records. Unfortunately that gig was canceled and the band hasn’t played in town since. With support from locals Olivia Neutron-John, Dolly, and Juice, this show really is a perfect one. [TIX + INFO]
That Friday at Connie’s down in the Italian Market is a memorial show for two giants of Philly punk, Lenny Crunch and Beebe Perkins. Under the Crunch Productions banner, Lenny booked a ton of shows back in the 80s for bands like Hüsker Dü, Die Kreuzen, Scream and countless more. Beebe was a talented bassist who played in a number of bands, most notably Homo Picnic with Rich Hoak and Dr. Israel. He passed away in July and Crunch died last month. This memorial will feature performances by some classic Philly punk bands including Decontrol and Stepping Razor. [INFO]
The very next night at The Tusk on South Street is the first show by the most recent lineup of another classic Philly band, YDi. I know what you’re thinking: “Yoni, I’ve seen YDi play before and they’ve literally not recorded a new song for 30 years. They’re a good band and those songs from the 80s are obviously perfect but why should I care?” Well, for one thing, they’re about to put out a new album. Additionally, that new lineup I referred to? It includes original YDi drummer Howard Twiggs and guitarist Kimba Harris from The Electric Nubians, which is amazing. You should go. Opening will be Hellrad and Kaiju Go Go.
YDi isn’t the only first wave Philly hardcore punk band to be putting out new music soon. Flag of Democracy, quite possibly the best band to ever come out of our fair city, is finally releasing their long-awaited ninth album No School, No Core. It will be out next month on SRA Records, which has been championing the band for the last few years, rereleasing old albums and doing all the work on a number of new releases. For the sake of transparency, you should know that I’m friends and bandmates with BJ Howze who runs the label. But for the sake of journalistic integrity you should also know that FOD really is my favorite band and I’m beyond ecstatic for this album to finally come out.
Let’s switch gears a bit and talk about space music. Specifically, let’s talk about The Space Lady. Performing since the 70s, this brilliant outsider musician – she’s even in “Songs in the Key of Z”! – is coming to Philadelphia for quite possibly the very first time on Monday the 10th. This is going to be a truly wonderful show and you should all make it out to PhilaMOCA if you can, because who knows if she’ll ever swing back through our galaxy again. [TIX + INFO]
I’m pretty sure that Dick Lucas, lead singer of British punk band Subhumans, is also some kind of alien. I mean, look at him! He hasn’t aged in 30 years! It’s completely unbelievable. The band is equally timeless and is just as musically and politically relevant as ever. They’re playing the First Unitarian Church on the 13th with War on Women from Baltimore and locals Dark Thoughts and The Brood. It’s going to be amazing and you’d be a fool to miss this one. [TIX + INFO]
On Friday you have your choice of shows as the calendar is again remarkably chocked full of gigs. I’ll be brief and just break it down geographically: if you’re in West Philly and you don’t want to leave, head over to the Mothership to see the On The Water record release show with perennial neighborhood favorites Northern Liberties, outer space rockers S.T.A.R.W.O.O.D., and a new band out of NYC called Van Goose who remind me a lot of Gang of Four [TIX + INFO].
If you’re further up north then you’ve got a bit more of a quandary. At Jerry’s on Front it’s the Chronic Anxiety record release show with Taiwan Housing Project and Double Wig, which is a new band with members of Bardo Pond. [TIX + INFO] And just a mile down the street – a mere 18 minutes by foot and even less by bike according to Google Maps! – Long Hots and Writhing Squares are playing at the Philadelphia Record Exchange. Long Hots will be coming off of their tour and sporting the brand new tape that was spotlighted in an article in this great publication just last week. Maybe the shows can be staggered? Someone could set up a shuttle between the two? Please figure this out for me, thanks. [TIX + INFO]
The decision the following evening is a bit easier because there isn’t much of a choice but to go see Italian psychedelic noise duo Father Murphy at the batting cages. Around since 2001, they create music that is, as they describe it, “the sound of the Catholic sense of Guilt.” They came through Philly three years ago and it was one of the most intense shows I’ve ever been to. This is going to be their final tour and it coincides with the release of Rising. A requiem for Father Murphy., a twelve part masterpiece of an album that serves to examine the nature of faith at the moment of death. Opening will be the Ominous Cloud ensemble and Evil Sword and you couldn’t ask for a more perfect lineup. [TIX + INFO]
After all that intense music you might need a bit of a palate cleanser. Thankfully the Mexican Independence Day Festival on Penn’s Landing the next day has you covered. Starting at 2 p.m. and going until dark, the event promises to be a loud and boisterous celebration of Mexican culture, including, of course, music. While I don’t think this will be as awesome as the Carnaval De Puebla that happens each April in South Philly – because what is? – I can’t imagine it’ll be anything but a lot of fun. [TIX + INFO]
That night is the recently announced Hurry Up show at Everybody Hits. That’s Kathy Foster and Westin Glass from Portland greats The Thermals, who sadly broke up last year, with Maggie Vail from one of my favorites, The Bangs, on bass. Openers are the recently reformed Wildflowers of America, Perry Shall from Hound’s country fried rock band, and the always fantastic No Thank You. [TIX + INFO]
If by some small chance you’re still feeling down a couple days later, don’t fret: Black Uhuru is playing at Calabash at 62nd and Lancaster on the 19th. The reggae outfit has been going strong for almost 50 years, which is remarkable. Opening will be locals I Yahn I Arkestra, who occasionally feature Philly dub legends Chuck Treece and Timi Tanzania. [TIX + INFO]
The final week or so of September is, no surprise, just as jam packed as the rest of the month. Friday the 21st is Dead Milkmen at Ardmore Music Hall, which is already sold out, though a lot of people seem to be unloading tickets on the Facebook event. If you can’t make it in to this one, the band is playing their yearly Halloween show on the 27th of next month at the TLA. [TIX + INFO]
The day after that Ardmore Music Hall show I’ll see you at Johnny Brenda’s for the Night of 1,000 Kates. The “annual display of shameless Kate Bush worship through performance, dance, music, and costume” is in its fifth fabulous year and is only getting more amazing. If you’re not a Kate Bush fan, you probably should be because she’s incredible. This event, based on the similar-but-less exciting Stevie Nicks night in NYC, is one of those things that make me so happy to be living in this city. Great and fantastically weird and fun performances plus a good chunk of the door benefits a non-profit? Sign me up. This year that cause is Theatre in the X, a West Philadelphia-based organization that puts on plays in Malcolm X Park. [TIX + INFO]
I’ve seen a lot of cool music at the Institute of Contemporary Art over the years — Blues Control, Need New Body, and Plastic Ivy being the ones that stick out, though there are countless others — and the biannual Free For All exhibit coming up on the 26th is very much going to add to that list. Not only will there be a performance by Sunship, the band of Farid Abdul Bari-Barron, keyboard player for the Sun Ra Arkestra, but there are also some music workshops happening where you’ll get to mess around with a bunch of synthesizers. How cool is that? Come to the ICA, see some art, listen to a performance, and learn how to play a new instrument. [TIX + INFO]
If you need any more musical inspiration, the Guerilla Theatre performance by Negativland’s Mark Hosler two days later at PhilaMOCA should provide exactly that. Four decades after first starting the radical culture jamming outfit, Hosler is on a solo tour where he, “manipulates and augments the raw sound sources into a choral rainforest of pure electronic ear candy, erasing any easy distinction between the machine and the human.” Bring earplugs. Opening will be comedian, activist, and dancer Jacq the Stripper. [TIX + INFO]
That’s it for September! Remember,you can always send me hot tips and juicy gossip. Find me on Twitter at @talkofthetizzy. See you next month for the spooky Halloween edition of the Skeleton Key!