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Let’s make one thing clear about this column and really The Key as a whole: it exists to promote, uplift, and really just give a platform to musicians and artists in Philadelphia, specifically those involved in the various DIY scenes in our city. It’s not an entirely rosy picture, nor should it be, and there’s certainly lots to critique. But I don’t see any purpose to spending time tearing down anyone just because of how they look or what I think of their music.

You’ve probably figured that out already, but I just wanted to highlight the fact that this is punching up journalism, not punching down. There are enough people out there who don’t give a crap about our scene, our city, that I can’t imagine any journalist in Philadelphia spending the time to make fun of and belittle folks just for trying to make their lives a little bit less bad through music and community.

Alright, now that we’ve established all that, let’s get started with the calendar for the next two weeks, cause there’s nothing but bangers from now until the end of time. Seriously, there are five different things on my calendar for tonight not including various house and warehouse shows and other things I don’t usually bring up because I don’t want or need to blow up anyone’s spot.

Speaking of spaces, let’s go from small to big as far as running through things: at the Random Tea Room, it’s an absolutely killer avant/jazz/whatever show with experimental percussionist Sean Hamilton and two duos, cellist T.J. Borden with vocalist Nola Ranallo and drummer Leo Suarez with noise wizard Madam Data. Over at the Icebox Project Space on North American the Ominous Cloud Ensemble – artist Erik Ruin’s always-shifting band this time around is a nine piece including two violinists, electronics, horns, and more – is playing with occasional Residents collaborator Laurie Amat and the Bismuth String Quartet.

I know it’s the day after Valentine’s Day but in case you’re looking for a sweet, romantic time to go with your discount chocolate, check out trumpeter Marquis Hill and his band at Ruba playing tracks from Hill’s new one called Love Tape. The Black Unlimited Music Group-released album is exemplary and the band he’s assembled for this run of shows is full of heavy hitters, including drummer Makaya McCraven who will be back for another Ars Nova show in March with Jeff Parker and The New Breed.

If it’s dancing you crave check out Scottish duo Optimo at Making Time in Kensington or the WKDU Thrifty Disco at Philly AIDS Thrift. I’m not someone who normally gets that carried away about dance parties but both these events are so excellent. Optimo are known for pulling tracks from any and all corners of the musical spectrum – they were referred to as “cult heroes” by The Guardian for good reason – and you really can’t go wrong with funk and disco in a thrift store, especially since that event is benefiting Broad Street Ministry.

Flyer by Atomicdangerdesign

Don’t stay out until dawn cause Sunday afternoon at Boot & Saddle there’s the (unfortunately!) very rare type of show: the punk rock matinee. It’s not that I don’t like to stay out and see loud bands play late into the night but there’s something really quite fun about all that happening in the middle of the day. I can’t think about matinees without thinking about fabled NYC DIY spot ABC No Rio, where the weekend matinee show has been a mainstay for decades. It’s appropriate because the headliner of this Sunday’s show is Citizens Arrest, who have been part of the hardcore scene in that city for almost as long and have certainly played a ton of those shows. Opening up will be HIRS, Soul Glo, School Drugs, and Grey CELL.

If you don’t have tickets for that sold out Christian McBride and Sonia Sanchez lecture and performance at the Penn Museum on Monday night … well, sorry, I can’t help. But if you’re still looking to do something that night and it doesn’t involve sneaking into a museum to hear some jazz, you could do a lot worse than the show at Century that night with Raries, Heavenly Bodies, and Blues Ambush, three great fuzzed-out rock n’ roll bands.

Tuesday night you have a choice between sitar player Indrajit Roy-Chowdhury at The Rotunda and noted electronic act Telefon Tel Aviv at Johnny Brenda’s, which are less dissimilar than you might think. On Wednesday musician, artist, and writer Sam McPheeters – Born Against, Men’s Recovery Project – is reading from his new book Mutations at Jerry’s On Front. His old bandmate Neil Burke will be opening up that show in a duo with Bill Nace, which is super exciting. While I don’t think they’ll be doing any covers, that’s not going to stop me from screaming requests for “Mary and Child” or “All Music Is Shit To God”! Bonus: McPheeters will be on WKDU with me Thursday morning at 11am so be sure to tune in.

The always awesome classical, jazz, and avant Warp Factor 9 series returns for their February show on Thursday at the Suzuki Piano Academy in West Philly. This month it’s the duo of George Draguns (from math rockers Don Caballero) and Kyle Press and an ensemble made up of Pete Dennis on bass, event organizer and pianist Erica Corbo, and Philly mainstay Elliott Levin on sax and flute. I am a big fan of this series in general and this show is going to be extra amazing so be sure to get there early as the venue is not very big.

While I secretly hope that the Sonoscopia Phobos Dysfunctional Robot Orchestra performing at Vox Friday night with Hermit Thrushes are basically just like the The Rock-afire Explosion – that’s the animatronic band that ‘performed’ at a pizza chain in the 80s and were the subject of a truly interesting documentary a few years back – I’m pretty sure we’re not going to get some weird anthropomorphized animals dancing in place while pop music is piped through the speakers. Still, I’m intrigued, especially cause the orchestra is described as, “strange instruments with defects, genetic mutations and erratic behaviors” representing a “critique of the technological overlapping over human thought.”

If you’re into that kind of thing, be sure to check out Man or Astro-Man? at Underground Arts the following evening. Sure, they might not be robots, but the long-running surf band is from outer space, which counts for a lot. Also that night brand new hardcore outfit Slow Torture is playing their first show out in West Philly. Bassist Chuck Meehan, who we profiled in The Key a couple years ago, was a founding member of Philly hardcore pioneers YDI back in the 80s but hasn’t really had a band since. He’s been threatening to put something together and I’m stoked it finally happened. On top of that debut the show also features Demodex, S.P.I.C. from NYC, and Carnivorous Bells, who just put out their first LP.

Sunday night you should probably go see Radioactivity, Vacation, and Dark Thoughts at Boot & Saddle. Any one of those rock n’ roll bands would be great to see all on their own so the fact that they’re sharing a bill is actually awesome.

Mardi Gras is Tuesday the 25th and while Philadelphia is a bit of a slouch in that department – seriously, where can I get a beignet around here?! – we’re not entirely without cheer. West Philly Orchestra will be at Franky Bradley’s that night playing some New Orleans favorites with openers The Wild Bohemians, who are celebrating their 36th Mardi Gras. Mazel tov!

The following night at Pageant Soloveev off South Street check out what is bound to be one of the cooler experimental shows this month with Max Eilbacher (Horse Lords) and Duncan Moore (Needle Gun), both of whom have collaborated with Matmos. Also appearing will be Madam Data, Permasquelch, and Patrick Gallagher.

The Not So Silent Cinema returns that Thursday evening with a performance of Faust at the Mütter Museum. If you’ve never seen an orchestra play along with a silent movie, you are missing out because it’s always a treat no matter the band or the film. The fact that this is Faust – the 1926 version directed by F.W. Murnau – and it’s being done with the Bismuth Quartet and it’s at the Mütter makes this a truly memorable concert. Also the whole thing is in conjunction with two new-ish exhibits at the museum, “Spit Spreads Death” and “Going Viral”, both of which deal with the spread of sickness.

When that’s over scamper down to Century in Grays Ferry for the Mutant Flesh record release show. I know it would be better in this case if they were called PLAGUE WIELDER or something but Mutant Flesh is a pretty good segue from that Mütter event. Plus, the doom band, which features members of Stinking Lizaveta and On The Water, is great. They’ll be playing with Queen Elephantine and Double Wig, which is Clint from Bardo Pond.

Friday night at the new Lightbox Film Center on South Broad they’re showing “Punk the Capital,” the new documentary on the early history of DC punk and hardcore. There seems to be a plethora of these films in recent years but the fact that this one focuses specifically on the years 1976 to 1983 gives me hope that this one will stand out. The co-director of the documentary Paul Bishow will be in attendance along with Howard Wuelfing from the band Slickee Boys and H.R. from Bad Brains, who celebrated his 64th birthday last week.

On Saturday it’s the annual Two Piece Fest, this year happening up at Foto Club in Port Richmond. The daylong celebration of duos in all their forms, from jazz to noise to hip hop, punk, and more, is in its 13th year, which is amazing. Some of the 22 acts appearing include Zyme, 7th Victim, Cat Park & Mimi Gallagher, King Azaz, and Brown Rainbow. They’re even letting me on the bill, in a duo with Brian from Drums Like Machine Guns that we’re called BoreXHole. Suckers!

That night is also the first of two fundraising concerts at LAVA Space, the West Philly community center on Lancaster Ave. that spent the better part of the last two years out of operation while contending with a group of people who were trying to take over and then sell the building. There were definitely moments where it seemed like the whole thing might be lost so the fact that it’s back in business is testament to all the incredibly hard work put in by the activist collective that has kept things going there since it first opened more than fifteen years ago.

The lineups for the shows, which were booked partially by Key contributor Alex Smith, are fantastic. Saturday night it’s Soul Glo, Flag of Democracy, Manikineter, OOLOI, and Disappearances. On Sunday Moor Mother, Pinkwash, Rainbow Crimes, Kahlil Ali, and Camp Candle will be performing.

Pinkwash | photo by Yoni Kroll | courtesy of the artist

Bringing this all back around to the beginning: these LAVA benefits are proof of how important it is to support these spaces and the community at large. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world and maybe music might seem insignificant, a distraction even. But the only way we can achieve any kind of positive change on a grand scale is by first creating that change in ourselves and in our communities. Music and everything that comes with is one of the best tools we have to do exactly that.

On that note, I will see you all next month. As always, you can reach me via Twitter at @talkofthetizzy with all tips, rumors, and inquiries about music journalism. Remember: punch up, not down, and always keep in mind that you are not as funny or clever as you think you might be. Until next time!

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