The Skeleton Key: This month give thanks for punk, jazz, wrestling, and a full calendar of cool gigs
Maybe it’s cause Halloween hasn’t yet been pushed to the side by all things Christmas, or maybe it’s just totally random but Mikey Wild has come up a lot recently. The late Mayor of South Street – he was a punk before you were a punk, punk! – and noted horror movie buff was an indelible part of Philadelphia culture for decades and his unique art can still be seen all over the city. Also his music was pretty great and you should check it out if you’re not familiar.
Hello Philadelphia! Welcome to the second Skeleton Key for November. I wasn’t intending to lead with all this stuff about Mikey Wild but he was and is a Philadelphia institution and you should take the time to celebrate those as much as possible. I was interviewing Mike Mongiello about the cymbals he makes in a garage in South Philly – look for that article later this week – and he mentioned that he was in Mikey’s backing band for a couple years, which is awesome. Then a couple days later I was at the final Streets of Philadelphia concert at Pageant : Soloveev and realized they have a whole wall of Mikey’s art!
While I don’t think any of the bands playing the show at Ortlieb’s tonight will be doing any Mikey Wild covers that doesn’t mean you should avoid it. Timmy’s Organism is downright amazing, Trash Knife is always fun, and this will be the first and last Dark Web show for a very long time. Up at Temple the TU Klezmer Ensemble under the direction of Key-favorite Dan Blacksberg will be playing their first ever concert and at the Kelly Writer’s House Erik Ruin is presenting an evening of music, art, and performance.
On Tuesday all you headbangers better go to see Power Trip, High on Fire, Creeping Death, and Devil Master at Union Transfer. I don’t listen to Power Trip at home cause it’s not really my thing but I will rarely pass up the chance to see them live because people go off! There are very few bands that inspire the chaos that is a Power Trip show and I truly appreciate that.
Switching gears just a little, the November edition of the improv and chamber music series Warp Factor 9 is this Thursday. While I don’t think anyone will be stage diving at the Suzuki Piano Academy – they’d need a stage first! – the music of composer Carlos Cotallo Solares and GPS will certainly be just as engaging. Also, there will be tea and chocolate for everyone there, which is just plain charming. I’d like to see High on Fire do that!
Also that night is a benefit show at Everybody Hits for the group 18 Million Rising which is working to save Hoa Binh Plaza in South Philly from being potentially razed and turned into condos. The plaza, at 16th and Washington, has been a “community space and economic lifeline for new immigrants and working class people in the neighborhood” for more than three decades according to the event organizers. Not only will Tact, Big Nothing, and Abi Ooze be playing but there will also be Chikara wrestling (!) and a huge raffle. How can you beat that?
Friday night you have a ton of choices: there’s a screening of Downtown 81, the classic art-punk film that stars Jean-Michel Basquiat and a veritable who’s who of NYC no-wavers. That’s at Lightbox Film Center, which you should make a point to go to before they finally close down in preparation for their move to South Broad next year. There’s a great rock n’ roll show with Sheena & Thee Nosebleeds, Poppy, and Suffacox (members of the Original Sins, Caterpillar, and a bunch more) at Century in Greys Ferry.
On the other side of town tape-manipulator extraordinaire T.D. and “primitive folk guitarist” Joseph Allred are at the Philly Record Exchange while up the block at Kung Fu Necktie it’s The Mr. T Experience and the Mikey Erg Band. MTX played one of the first bigger punk shows I ever went to – them, The Donnas, Pansy Division, and Atom and His Package at The Trocadero in the late 90s – and they’re still fantastic. Also, you can never go wrong with anything Mikey Erg-related.
However I will be elsewhere that night, and not just because MTX will almost certainly be sold out by the time you read this. You see, there’s a one-night-only Faux Slang reunion happening at The Khyber with Dragon City and Sun Organ and while I can wax poetic about a show I saw two decades ago, I’m so much more excited to see old friends come in from across the country to play some really amazing and fun songs.
Grey CELL truly goes all out. Not only did the hardcore supergroup book the Latvian Society for their record release show on Saturday, something that would be cool enough on its own, but they got fellow rockers Disappearances to open up along with Financial Guru Gregg Gethard and Latvian-American experimental musician Laris Kreslins. This is absolutely going to be a very entertaining night of music. Also that evening there’s a great jazz show at the Rotunda with Sirius Juju and the William Hooker, Elliott Levin, Luke Stewart Trio.
Even if the worst bands in the world were playing the Mitch Esparza Needs Front Teeth benefit show on Sunday at Boot & Saddle I’d still encourage everyone to go. Mitch, who is legit one of the sweetest people in all of Philadelphia, was beat up in a random assault back in July and still needs more oral reconstruction surgeries that insurance isn’t totally covering. But also even if you don’t give a crap about any of that this show is so good: Soul Glo, their own psych outfit Love Club, and Big Scary Indian out of NYC.
Next week starts off with famed composer Fabio Frizzi performing the score to the Lucio Fulci film The Beyond at Warehouse at Watts on Monday. If Italian horror movies don’t get you in the mood for Thanksgiving I don’t know what will! Wednesday night over at Ortlieb’s there’s a rad show with Venezuelan post-hardcore band The Zeta, fuzzed out indie rockers So Totally, the mathy Taking Meds, and new screamo outfit Kissies.
While Thanksgiving has muted the end of November live music calendar a little, Saturday more than makes up for it. Over at Bob & Barbara’s there is an all-star jazz show with Vernon Reid, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, and G. Calvin Weston that could fill a venue ten times the size of the paltry live room at the famed South St. bar. This is one of the best shows of the month and if you’re into jazz – or even if you’re not too familiar with these heavy hitters – you’d be a fool to miss it. Also it starts at 5pm so it won’t get in the way of any of your plans for that night!
Or, you know, like go see Stinking Lizaveta at Johnny Brenda’s with Mt. Vengeance and Heat Map. I think Stinkin’ Liz is one of the best bands to come out of the city over the past two decades and I try my best to never miss them when they play. Also that night there’s a really cool noise and improv gig at Vox Populi with Madam Data, Ghost in Salad, Yureka Cash, and Pat Gallagher.
Alright! That is it for November. Next month stay tuned for a new feature we’re debuting here at the Skeleton Key, a Justify Your Existence-style piece where we get a TOP FIVE of some sort or another from a local nerd. And as always feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any tips at @talkofthetizzy!