The Skeleton Key: Rare Philly 7"s and a ridiculously busy month, from Team Dresch to Drill and beyond - WXPN
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The only bad part about writing this column is trying to figure out how to fit a month of events into something that isn’t so long that you don’t want to read it and I don’t want to write it. There is so much that goes on that I want to spotlight – you should see my actual calendar, it’s ridiculous – but I need to make sacrifices, for all of our sakes.

But what if instead of once a month this column was … stay with me here … twice a month. Not only could I include a bit more of everything, including the gossip this so-called “gossip column” is sorely missing, but it would make the whole thing just a bit more timely. Everybody wins, right? Well loyal Skeleton Key readers, I have some exciting news for you: welcome to the first of two October columns!

What I’m hoping to be able to do is include more than just listings. We were able to do that in the past – see August of 2016’s “Pi Lam” edition of the Skeleton Key for a good example of that – and there’s really no end of things I could cover in this space.
I was recently DJing out and in the box of records I haphazardly packed there were 7”s from Undergirl, The Holy Fallout, and Grisly Fiction, all great Philly bands from days gone by. And while I kinda know the history of Undergirl – check out these two City Paper pieces by Patrick Rapa and A.D. Amorosi about that South St. mainstay – and all that Grisly Fiction stuff is really fun late-80s/early 90s chaotic post-punk, whatever happened to The Holy Fallout?

Here’s what I can tell you: the 7” I have, which I probably bought at Space Boy around the time it was released in 2000, is some fantastic heavy and noisy garage punk on Track Star Records. According to Discogs there was a CD on that same label a year later, though I’ve never seen a copy. I’m pretty sure I saw them at least a couple times at The Khyber, though I wasn’t at the show they played in May of 2003 with Party of Helicopters, The Nite Lights, and Lickgoldensky. The band was actually mentioned in this Key piece on Northern Arms and you can download the aforementioned 7” from some random blog that names them and Need New Body as the only good bands the author saw when they lived here. That’s some solid company!

So, yeah, look for some more of that over the next few columns. There’s no limit to the things I want to talk about but also I am totally open to suggestions so feel free to hit me up.



Let’s get to the calendar because even though this is just for half the month it’s an incredibly jam-packed two weeks. Tonight you have to make the choice between one of the best metal shows this city has seen in ages and one of the best jazz shows this city has seen in ages and the kickoff to Ars Nova Workshop’s always fabulous October Revolution series. The former is Mizmor, HELL, Moros, and Caged at Kung Fu Necktie and the latter is of course Moor Mother and Roscoe Mitchell at Ruba, which if you’re anything like me you’ve had on your radar since it was announced. Camae has been performing with Mitchell and his group the Art Ensemble of Chicago for a while now but this is their first show together in Philadelphia and it’s sure to be incredibly memorable.

Tomorrow night is another fantastic Ars Nova show – the amount of amazing jazz and related music this city is seeing this month from a number of promoters is absurd! – with British avant-garde guitarist Fred Frith (Henry Cow, Art Bears, Massacre) at Johnny Brenda’s. Over at Boot & Saddle is a great post-punk gig featuring Pink Turns Blue who are on their first ever U.S. tour after more than three decades of being a band. Tuff Turf and Skeleton Key favorites The Ire will be opening up. That show was originally supposed to be at PhilaMOCA before that venue ran into some problems. They’re still collecting funds to try and get the building up and running as soon as possible so if you can throw a little money their way everybody would appreciate it.

If it was just Screaming Females playing at Union Transfer on the 3rd I’d be lining up around the block to get in, but the fact that they’re opening up for 90’s queercore favorites Team Dresch makes this one a must-see. Don’t show up late and miss Des Ark!



You know how I was saying that this month is just overwhelmingly busy? Friday night alone there are six great gigs. To try and keep things simple, I’ll organize them geographically: in West Philly the Community Education Center is holding a fundraiser with performances by a veritable who’s who of celebrated locals including Ursula Rucker, Danny Simmons, and Rennie Harris Puremovement. Also in the neighborhood is James Poyser of The Roots hosting the Philly edition of Future x Sounds, a nationwide series that, “invites artists, attendees, and society to question the world around them.” The event, which is being held at World Cafe Live as part of that venue’s 15 year anniversary commemorations, will feature Chill Moody, Cosmo Baker, Killiam Shakespeare, and more.

Across the bridge and right north of Center City there is an awesome night of improvised drone and psych at Vox Populi with Tetuzi Akiyama, John Krausbauer, and Bill Nace. Heading even more north and east you’ll run into the record release for the new Upholstery remix album Inga at Bourbon & Branch with performances from Camp Candle, David Fantasy & Adult Content, and Rego. Be sure to also check out the recent live Key Session that Upholstery recorded last week! At Johnny Brenda’s – basically up the block from Bourbon & Branch if by some chance you were trying to bounce between the two – it’s Bonny Doon, Anna St. Louis, and a solo set from Radiator Hospital. Finally on the complete other side of everything else that night Brother JT and Lettuce Prey are playing a free show upstairs at the Khyber, which is awesome on many different levels.



On Saturday long-running psych juggernaut Bardo Pond is at Johnny Brenda’s with Violet Phase and Antigua of North America so if you happened to go to the Bonny Doon show the night before just hide in the corner for 20 hours or so. Jazz drummer and “sonic collagist” Makaya McCraven, who released an incredibly catchy and absolutely brilliant double LP called Universal Beings exactly a year ago, is at Ruba as part of the October Revolution. At Boot & Saddle it’s Dublin-based post-punk heavyweights Girl Band – whose most recent album came out on legendary British label Rough Trade – and Eel Tank.



That evening is also the first of three shows this month at the Moonviewingplatform in the recently opened Rail Park. The music space is in a section of the elevated park around 18th and Spring Garden. Joshua Abrams & Natural Information Society, a group that includes guimbri, tabla, and gongs alongside brass instruments, will be playing at sundown. The second is on the 12th with Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Anaïs Maviel, and Bismuth Quartet and the third is on the 19th so check back for the second October column.

Mudhoney just put out a new EP and it’s just as good as anything they’ve ever done. Which is to say, you owe it to yourself to come see the Seattle punk pioneers play both new songs and old at Union Transfer on Sunday the 6th. Locals Pissed Jeans and Body Spray will be opening, making this truly an excellent show. Also that night as part of the October Revolution the Go: Organic Orchestra and Brooklyn Raga Massive will be at the Painted Bride, which was very recently given a reprieve from being turned into yet another block of stale cookie-cutter condos. Maybe there’s hope yet!

The following week features a whole big mess of rock n’ roll starting Monday at Jerry’s on Front with DMBQ from Japan and the return from hibernation of local favorites Birds of Maya. The next night head over to Boot & Saddle for the always entertaining Mike Watt and The Missingmen and on Wednesday check out the CinéSPEAK screening of the 2003 Afro-Punk documentary with a post-film conversation headed up by The Key’s own Alex Smith.

Thursday night Sheer Mag, Tweens, and The Ire are at Union Transfer, there’s an incredible death metal and thrash show with Voivod, Revocation, Psycroptic, and a couple others at the First Unitarian Church, and the wonderfully mysterious Orville Peck is playing the Foundary. On the jazz side of things Ars Nova is hosting a tribute to the great Miles Davis album In a Silent Way at World Cafe Live with Charlie Hall from The War On Drugs, Monette Sudler from Sounds of Liberation, and more. It’s also the first night of the Bowerbird-presented “George Crumb at 90” concerts at the Annenberg Center, with performances of some of the celebrated composer’s most well-known works.


Yes, that does say Thursday and no it’s not a typo. This month really is that busy. In case you still have energy to go out on Friday, there’s a whole slew of great shows that night. Rock n’ rollers Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires and Nana Grizol are at Boot & Saddle with locals Big Nothing opening up. At Kung Fu Necktie “misfit pop” two piece Beloved Binge are having a record release show, at Jerry’s it’s Carnivorous Bells, Gold Dime, and Hatchers, and powerhouse hardcore band Vein are headlining a classic First Unitarian Church show with Soft Kill, Higher Power, and Silenus.

Night two of the George Crumb series is at Annenberg, this time with a couple major compositions for solo piano, South Philadelphia’s own Beanie Sigel is at Voltage for a rare hometown show, and out in West Philly one of my current favorites, freaky punk three piece Drill is playing a show to celebrate the release of their new tape.



Saturday is also host to a couple record releases: poppy hardcore group Crossed Keys will be at Creep Records with Brackish and more and at the Khyber it’s “gutter-folk” duo Driftwood Soldier with Eliza Edens and Savan DePaul. In West Philly Hermit High Priestess, Murayama Music, and Oldest Sea are playing a Monthly Fund benefit, this one supporting the 1149 Cooperative.

At Underground Arts the Melvins are playing with Redd Kross, which is going to be amazing, and at Boot & Saddle it’s long-running – seriously, this is their 40th year as a band, which is unreal – psychedelic post-punk act The Legendary Pink Dots. The final George Crumb concert “Black Angels” is also that night. And if you still have any energy, head over to AIDS Thrift for the all-night WKDU Thrifty Disco party in conjunction with the station’s 16th annual Electronic Music Marathon. More on that on the EMM website.

This half of the month ends with two punk shows at The Khyber and one at The Rotunda. I know it sounds like I plucked that sentence right out of the nineties or early aughts but it’s totally true: everything old really is new again. Sunday the 13th on 2nd Street it’s Pay For Pain, which is members of Tigers Jaw and Queen Jesus, with Sensual World and TVO and two days later it’s Narrow Head, Bleary Eyed, and Knifeplay. Finally on the 16th – halfway mark of the month and the perfect place to end this column – Nightfall, The Ire, Chained Bliss, and Alien Birth are at The Rotunda for a benefit put together by the Healing & Trauma Informed Working Group which has as its mission statement “… to establish transformative justice surrounding interpersonal violence/abuse and inaction from the community.”

That’s it! That is half of the month’s events. Please let me know if you have any critiques. As always feel free to hit me up on Twitter at @talkofthetizzy!
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