The Skeleton Key: New Dark Thoughts, two Wild Flowers of America shows, heavy metal, and a gamelan orchestra. Welcome to winter, Philadelphia.
Going to start off this edition of the Skeleton Key on a bit of a somber note: a true friend of the Philadelphia music scene, Terry Turtle from the Harrisonburg, VA industrial blues two piece Buck Gooter, passed away earlier this week after being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer about a month prior. Terry was a huge and very vocal fan of Erode & Disappear, Palberta (watch this wonderful video of him playing with them in 2016!), Northern Liberties, Drums Like Machine Guns, Old Maybe, Evil Sword, and tons of other Philly bands past and present.
Buck Gooter has been playing shows here at least once or twice a year for more than a decade. They’ve always been a favorite in the city and they’ve always returned that love tenfold. If you look at pictures of the band you’ll see a Northern Liberties sticker prominently displayed on one of Terry’s guitars; when I needed a quote for a piece about that band, I knew exactly who to ask.
West Philly label Ramp Local released the most recent two Buck Gooter albums and head honcho Jake Saunders, who we profiled in January, went on tour with the band down to South by Southwest this past spring. In a memorial post Saunders wrote that, “Terry Turtle was a shining light in a world of shit. For me, he represented what it looks like to pull oneself from the depths of humanity and bring light into the world. He has inspired me to no end and his memory will continue to do so for the rest of my life.”
Billy Brett, the other half of the band, is going to keep Buck Gooter going as a solo act, something he started doing when Terry first fell ill. He’s actually playing a previously-booked show tonight in Harrisonburg. I wish I could be there. Billy was kind enough to repost and archive every single post about Terry he could find to the Buck Gooter Instagram story and you should give that a look along with the documentary made about him a couple years back.
Since I’m not driving to Virginia, I’m going to honor Terry Turtle in the best way I can here in Philadelphia: by going to see live music! You have a lot of options, big surprise. Lightning Bolt, who toured with Buck Gooter in 2015 (the local show was at the First Unitarian), is at Union Transfer. You can’t go wrong with a Lightning Bolt show and their new album is phenomenal. Speaking of new albums, Wild Flowers of America are playing two record releases this week for their debut LP Lost in the Salvation Army. The first is tonight at Dawson Street Pub in Manayunk with one of my favorites, Ricky Hell & the Voidboys, and tomorrow night it’s an in-store at Long In The Tooth Records in Center City.
On top of all that Toyz is playing a show that’s part of the Song-Poems series at the Free Library, avant noisers Michael R. Bernstein and Hairy Sands are at the Record Exchange, and West Philly Orchestra is bringing the big band funk to Foto Club.
I never got into Guided By Voices until last year when I saw them at Union Transfer and got dragged in hook, line, and sinker. There is nothing like a GBV show – one band, no opener, three straight hours of rock n’ roll – and I urge you all to check ‘em out at least once. You know, like tomorrow night at Underground Arts, unofficial pre-show happy hour at Johnny Brenda’s. You won’t regret it.
Also happening tomorrow, just in case you’re not buying my pitch, is Thurston Moore Group at Boot & Saddle, Plague Dogs (record release!) and Sonja at Kung Fu Necktie, and over at the Art Dept. Collective on Berks a night of live film scoring with Rashid Zakat, Chris Acree, DJ Ripley, and The Key’s own John Morrison at a Monthly Fund show benefiting Cinespeak.
Saturday night your best bet is to head over to Everybody Hits for that Horse Jumper of Love, Soul Glo, Highnoon gig. I know I say this all the time but Soul Glo really is a treasure of a band and we’re very lucky to have them as a regularly-playing local. If their recent album isn’t in your top 10 for 2019 you are screwing up. Before that show, visit the Effected 4: Philadelphia Pedal Pop-Up event a few blocks away at Johnny Brenda’s and maybe get something for yourself or that special guitar nerd on your list.
On the topic of top 10 lists: I was stoked to include the recent Dark Thoughts 7” Do You Dream in whatever I end up writing for the 2019 Year End Mania section here at The Key but now I’m extra excited because I just found out that their new LP, Must Be Nice, will be out on Stupid Bag Records domestically and Drunken Sailor in the UK before the new year. The band was kind enough to send us the title track to preview here so check it out!
Did you listen to that five times in a row like I did? Good. Bet you can’t wait for that LP to drop. In the meantime, let’s get back to the calendar.
There are two good goth industrial shows in the next couple weeks, which is always exciting. I mean, who doesn’t like to get spooky and dance around to synthesizers?! The first is Sunday at the Barbary with psychedelic noise act Lunacy, the fuzzed out Lovelorn, and a special DJ set from Void Vision. Two days later on the 10thTurkish dark-wave post-punk act She Past Away is at Underground Arts with Remote/Control.
If that’s not your idea of fun… well, that’s your problem, not mine. Still, there are other things happening that Tuesday night. At Vox Populi Fire Museum is doing a show for celebrated experimental composer João Castro Pinto, saxophonist and improvisor Bhob Rainey, and local synth maven Apologist. Finally at Union Transfer it’s Twin Peaks – not the TV series but the indie band – with Lala Lala and OHMME.
On Thursday there’s a good metal show and a truly fantastic jazz one. Aaron Novik’s No Signal is an ode to the early New York City no wave scene and features Novik and Jeremiah Cymerman both on clarinet alongside hometown guitar shredders Nick Millevoi and Matt Hollenberg. That’s the jazz show, obviously, and it’s at the Art Dept Collective. Also performing are violinist Thea Farhadian and Strange Parts, which is the pop project of Corey Duncan of Oh! Pears and former Philly resident Attia Taylor.
The metal gig I’m talking about is not Morbid Angel at Union Transfer, though I’m sure that’ll be great, but rather the one over at Kung Fu Necktie. While you might not get covered in blood by a bunch of Satanists there – way to keep it real, Watain! – you also won’t get covered in blood by a bunch of Satanists there. On top of that obvious plus, the bands, Immortal Bird from Chicago and Witching and Polemicist from here, are really good. I’d be a big fan of Polemicist even if they didn’t wear their philosophy nerd identity on their sleeves but let’s be real: that makes the whole thing even better.
That show is the first of three of note in a row at KFN. If you just want to park yourself at Front and Thompson you could do a lot worse than Street Sects, Timelost, and Elizabeth Colour Wheel on Friday or Obituary playing the entirety of their 1989 album Slowly We Rot on Saturday. In fact, I’d say you were doing pretty great. If it’s variation you crave, head over to the Rotunda in West Philly for the Shimmer record release with a ridiculously stacked lineup featuring some of the best bands in the city: no wavers Eat, synth punks Drill, and metal maniacs Zorn.
While they’re not on that bill you should be sure to check out the brand new tape from West Philly’s Alien Birth, which my buddy Kody aptly described as, “for the freaks, by the freaks.” It’s been a banner year for punk in Philadelphia and this brilliant and brilliantly catchy album is the cherry on top. On top of what, you ask? Listen up:
Also that night Glenn Danzig – in town a day before the big gig, more about that in a bit – is presenting his horror film Verotika at the Film Center, which is sure to be a memorable experience, and at Tattooed Mom’s it’s the Shock Exchange punk holiday market. No matter what you get into you should end your evening at the Britpop dance party at Ruba where you can dance til dawn (or at least 2 a.m.) to Pulp, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, Heavenly, and other hits of the 90s.
There are two really cool events happening at around sunset on Saturday and unfortunately you’re going to have to choose. In Northern Liberties at the Liberty Lands park it’s the annual Parade of Spirits, the winter-themed costume procession and party, which like last year includes a performance from the Philadelphia Women’s Slavic Ensemble. And over at the Discovery Center in Fairmount Park Madam Data & the Imaginary Continent Ensemble and Argyle Torah are playing the Sonic Sunsets series.
Madam Data just released an album and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you to listen to it:
After the sun has gone down be sure to head over to one of the many, many gigs happening that night. If you’re already at the Parade of Spirits you’re within walking distance of an excellent post-punk and minimal psych show: Dares from NYC, Missing Earth (that’s Kyle Gilbride of Swearin’s thing, now with Jarrett Dougherty from Screaming Females in the mix), and Mitch Esparza of Chronic Anxiety/Love Club playing a solo set.
On the other side of the Schuylkill at World Cafe Live there’s a Philadelphia tribute to the 40th anniversary of The Clash’s London Calling with members of Cayetana, Signals Midwest, Catbite, and more. And down at the Wells Fargo Center a little band from New Jersey called The Misfits are playing. Ever heard of ‘em?! If you’re coming to that show make sure to get there early and figure out where the Mezzanine Skyline Bar is cause I’ll be DJing the pre-party there about an hour before the bands start. (Here’s a handy graphic to help you find me once you arrive.)
The final two shows on my calendar are pretty different, I guess, though I don’t think one is in any way less fun than the other. At the From Bali to Bala space in Chestnut Hill there’s a gamelan orchestra performing a selection of traditional songs. If you’ve never seen gamelan music – a percussion-heavy style originating in Indonesia – it is some fantastic and fascinating stuff and you owe it to yourself to check it out. Back in Center City at the First Unitarian Church Mount Eerie is playing a show in the sanctuary alongside Julie Doiron and Karl Blau. Sure it might not be a full Gamelan ensemble but it’s still pretty great.
Alright! I will see all of you in a couple weeks for the Hanukkah (and Christmas) edition of the Skeleton Key! As always if you have any juicy gossip please sent it my way via Twitter at @talkofthetizzy.