The Skeleton Key: Bring the heat this July with new music from Soul Glo and Blazon Rite, a 50th birthday party for WKDU, and so many shows all around the city
I recently had my first anxiety dream about this column. I know, I know, it’s been three years of doing this and it’s just now starting to infect my subconscious?! I’m such a slacker. The dream itself was pretty standard: I was putting it all together and getting ready to send it off to my editor when I realized I hadn’t included any events! Chief among the missing was a screening of the brand new Flag of Democracy documentary, which for the record is not a thing, though it should be.
Yes, these are my dreams. Yes, I am a nerd. No, I don’t want to talk about it.
Hello and welcome to the first Skeleton Key of July! I hope your 4th of July was great and that you still have all your fingers. If my block was any indication, fireworks are more popular than ever before, which is saying something after last year.
There’s a very full calendar to get to, lots of new music, and a ton more to talk about. As things slowly ramp up and, at least on paper, feel safer, we are seeing more indoor events. While I wasn’t planning on promoting any indoor shows here until at least later this month and the return of PhilaMOCA, the other night I ended up at the Pharmacy at a gig that got pushed inside because of the rain. The whole experience was both very weird but also so utterly wonderful, at least when I wasn’t thinking about it too hard.
That being said, it’s Philadelphia, most people going to shows are almost certainly vaccinated, it wasn’t a huge crowd, and it honestly didn’t feel too uncomfortable to be there. While I’ve been loving all these summertime open-air events the weather – too hot, too rainy, too whatever – can definitely be an issue.
That seems like a perfect segue to talk about the first date on my calendar: tonight at an undisclosed “under the bridge” locale that you should be very familiar with if you’ve been going to DIY shows for the last couple months there’s a queer punk show with Itchy Kisses, Cal Fish, Ale and Cash, and Clunky Animals. More information here.
On the 7th the National Museum of American Jewish History is hosting an online concert for Ladino singer songwriter Sarah Aroeste. According to the bio, Aroeste was “inspired by her family’s Sephardic roots in Macedonia and Greece” to write and perform original songs in Ladino as well as new interpretations of classic material. A few months ago I had the opportunity to chat with Dan Samuels from the NMAJH and you should definitely check that article out if you have an interest in the museum and their programming.
The following night there are two online shows: at 8pm it’s The Key’s Unprecedented Sessions Volume 9 with Ellen Siberian Tiger and Sweet Pill and at 11 p.m. King Britt is performing as part of the ongoing Liminal States series put on by Bowerbird and The Rotunda. Both should be very, very good.
On the 9th through the 11th the CEC is hosting a weekend jazz festival with performances by the Lawrence Clark Quintet, the Victor Gould Trio, the Brent White Quintet, and more. The concerts will be held outside at the West Philly community space on Lancaster Ave.
This seems like a good spot to pause the calendar and talk a bit about some of the albums that have dropped in the past couple weeks or so. As always Philadelphia is pumping out the hits and I’m sure we are going to see a slew of new stuff now that bands have been back practicing and recording the last couple months.
Hypnotizing Chickens – (I’m On) Time
Top of that list is the new 7” from Max Milgram and Richie Charles aka Hypnotizing Chickens. This is some fun, noisy stuff, definitely drawing on the primitive punk energy of their previous band Watery Love. There are hints of Dead C and even early Rancid Vat in there with the whole thing seemingly teetering on the edge of collapse from start to finish. I say ‘hints’ as if I’m reviewing the subtle flavor profile of a glass of wine when this is more like taking one last shot of whiskey at the end of the night, despite the fact that you know for a fact it’s a bad idea. All that and they throw in a cover of the Wipers’ “Don’t Know What I Am”! You certainly can’t go wrong here.
Fat Web – S/T
This two song EP from Jazz Adam (Old Maybe, Cheap Meat) and Ko T.C. – a Guilford, Vermont “songwriter and producer of unstable pop songs” according to their Bandcamp – is a huge tease. It’s great, don’t get me wrong, but from the first notes I just want more. Bedroom pop, hyperpop, whatever you want to call it these two tracks, both covers, are absolutely catchy as hell. I’m very much looking forward to what’s next.
xpoemsx – Who Makes The Summers (ya mind tellin’ me?)
Eric de Jesus has been a mainstay in the Lehigh Valley scene for decades. He’s played in bands – We Have Heaven, the dEALERS, and more – done design work for all sorts of releases including stuff by Fursaxa, Flag of Democracy, and Photon Band, and has been making zines forever and ever. His most recent project is xpoemsx, improvised psych-y guitar loops and drums that sound like something from a long-lost dream. It’s all very lovely. His newest release is called Who Makes The Summers (ya mind tellin’ me?) and it also came out on an 8” lathe cut record, which is cool.
Blazon Rite – Endless Halls of Golden Totem
I don’t listen to a lot of power metal but I’m thinking that should change. Blazon Rite checks all the boxes: riffs, riffs, songs about swords, more riffs, a vocalist with R A N G E, and some sweet synthesizer parts. This stuff makes me want to drink mead, ride motorcycles, and punch a skeleton in the face. If you haven’t figured it out by now: this rules.
Soul Glo – DisNi**a Vol. 2
Soul Glo have been very busy lately. Like, more than usual. The hardcore band put out this new EP, announced a bunch of shows for the fall – including a spot on the Coheed & Cambria cruise alongside Sheer Mag, Taking Back Sunday, and more, which is beyond ridiculous – and got signed to Epitaph. As always I am excited for all of it, even if I can’t convince management here at The Key to let me do a “Fear and Loathing on the Coheed Cruise” feature. Check out the three excellent tracks on this EP and dream about how cool they would sound on a freakin’ boat in the middle of the ocean.
Also, they have a new video. Told you they’ve been busy!
As far as new-to-the-internet archival stuff goes, Freedom Has No Bounds has been knocking it out of the park, as usual. Check the site for everything from a Go To Blazes set on WKDU in ‘89 to Johnny Thunders live at the East Side Club in ‘82. They’ve also been uploading more 80s punk zines, which is awesome. Also be sure to check out this article from 1979 about a Yippie protest and Pure Hell show that Diabolique’s Rob Skvarla posted to Twitter:
Speaking of WKDU and all things Philadelphia history, the venerated college radio station is celebrating its 50 year anniversary this month. I’ve been a DJ there for the past 15 years and it is by far one of my favorite things about this city. The week-long birthday celebrations start on the 10th and include an all-day Black Experience in Music reunion, alumni DJs, a brand new compilation, and so much more. There will also be an actual party on the 17th on Drexel’s campus. You can find out more on the anniversary website: 50.WKDU.org
Getting back to the calendar: that Saturday at Love City Brewing over at 10th and Hamilton local rockers TVO will be performing alongside a whole bunch of drag performers and DJs. The event is being co-presented by Altslut69 and Vox Populi. Also that day way out in Millersville – I looked it up, it’s close to Lancaster – it’s the return of jazz doom trio Stinking Lizaveta after almost two years of no shows. Anyone want to give me a ride?
TVO also recently announced that they’re putting out a 12” on State Champion Records as part of their picture disc series that also includes Snakeskin and Marissa Paternoster’s Noun. You can pre-order a copy of that over here.
On Sunday afternoon the Derivative Sessions folks are hosting a show down at the FDR Park Boathouse. The lineup for this one will be Trevor Rogers on drums, Kevin Savo on bass, and Angelo Outlaw Jr. on vibes. I’ve been super into all the different locations this series has popped up at over the past few months and the idea of sitting on the dock at FDR while a funky jazz fusion band plays sounds super nice.
The next day there are two different online shows: at 8 p.m. tune to the Mutants of the Monster fest on social media for performances from locals Backslider, Witching, and Sunrot, along with a number of other bands from across the country. At 8:30 p.m., open a new tab and head on over to the Fire Museum Presents YouTube channel to watch Chris Corsano, Amirtha Kidambi, and Lea Bertucci as part of that series’ 20th anniversary proceedings.
On Thursday the 15th it’s the final – for now – Warp Factor 9 concert, which is very bittersweet. Erica Corbo has been organizing and running things at the monthly avant and classical series since founding it back in March of 2019 and is taking some well-deserved time off. So that night head over to the Suzuki Piano Academy at 47th and Cedar and sit outside while pianist Maya Keren and dreampop quartet Miss Cantaloupe play inside. Like all of the WP9 shows over the past two years, I’m sure it’ll be quite fun and enjoyable.
Friday night it’s the July Monthly Fund show, their first back in person. At Pentridge Station in West Philly starting around 6pm it’ll be Tubey Frank, Justmadnice, Driftwood Soldier, and DJ Ross of Love, all raising money for the Amistad Law Project. Also that night at Cira Green, the new elevated park on 30th Street, World Cafe Live is presenting house icon Lady Alma.
The following afternoon trombonist Dan Blacksberg is outside The Rotunda with a band including D.M. Hotep, Veronica MJ, Tara Middleton, Nick Millevoi, Julius Masri, and more. This will be the first event at the community venue since the start of the pandemic and we are all very, very excited. That evening at Milo’s Meeting House in Mt. Airy Rachel Andie & The Fifth Element are performing their final headlining Philly show before Andie skips town for New Zealand. She’s not leaving till the end of August, though, and her and the band are on the lineup of the “Pocket-Size Edition” of the Philadelphia Folk Fest on the 21st and 22nd of that month, which is super exciting. West Philly Orchestra and a special surprise guest will be opening. Also that night it’s Cinema in the Cemetery at Laurel Hill with a screening of the classic musical Little Shop of Horrors. Options, people! We have options again!
Okay, that is it for this edition of the Skeleton Key. I’ll be back in two weeks with more of the same. Before I go I want to quickly highlight a couple local fundraisers. Beyond the Bars, the organization that works with youth across the city impacted by violence, is raising money to help rebuild a couple of studios that were unfortunately broken into recently. On a more positive note, regular Key contributor Alex Smith – also from the bands Solarized and Rainbow Crimes – is putting out a queer sci-fi comic book called Black Vans and is currently running a Kickstarter where you can pre-order a copy of the first issue and more. I know Alex would urge folks to give to Beyond the Bars but really you should just do both.
As always you can hit me up on Twitter at @talkofthetizzy to discuss the finer points of the Flag of Democracy discography and whatever else you want to talk about. I’ll see you at the show!