The Skeleton Key: End the month with a Sheer Mag series, Phantom of the Opera at the cemetery, Folk Fest, and more - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Hello Philadelphia! I hope the second half of this month hasn’t treated you too poorly. I took a bit of a vacation – odd concept, I know! – and bought a bunch of records. Like, possibly too many records, if such a thing exists. So if you need anyone to DJ your outdoor party and don’t mind them playing weird post-punk and power pop, I know a guy. There is a lot to get to in this column but I want to start off by talking about the most recent in pandemic news: the decision basically across the board to require proof of vaccination in order to attend indoor events.

This is, in a word, great. Not only are there no downsides – I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of those who are against it and I just can’t figure out where they’re coming from – but unlike a lot of other preventative measures from the past year and a half, this one is actually doing what it’s supposed to do with very little effort outside of the initial jab. If you don’t believe me, look at the numbers from Lollapalooza, which was almost certainly the biggest vaccine and/or negative test-required event so far. They had close to 400,000 attendees, a scary number of people even when there isn’t a pandemic raging, but only about 200 cases of Covid have been reported two weeks later.

Of course everyone’s social media is blowing up with people calling the venues and promoters all sorts of names but here’s something I’ve noticed: many of those calling for a boycott or asking for their money back or yelling about Nazis and free speech are not actually from Philly. And while I’m not trying to judge, some of them don’t exactly seem like DIY music fans. There’s definitely some sort of coordinated effort on the part of the anti-mask/anti-vaxx crowd to seek out places that are asking for proof and try and shame them.

What these people – and I’m including both online trolls and actual IRL Philadelphians who are on that same tip – don’t seem to grasp on a fundamental level is that they are not entitled to concerts or going into bars and restaurants or whatever. Despite what you may think, R5 Productions was not around back in 1776 and Union Transfer is not mentioned in the Bill of Rights. Trust me, I did the research. Asking for proof of vaccination is part of a community effort to try and take back some of the power from this virus, from those who have allowed it to perpetuate, and it’s definitely not “medical apartheid” or whatever these idiots are going on about. Is it ideal? No. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past year and a half is that nothing is ideal. But it’s a whole hell of a lot better than the alternative.

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I’m sure you’ve all been vaccinated but talk to your friends and family who haven’t and explain to them how necessary this is for them, for you, for the kids under 12 who can’t yet be vaccinated, and for those who are immunocompromised and live in total fear of getting sick. Hell, show them that article about Lollapalooza if you think it’ll make a difference. Whatever works. On that note, let’s get into the calendar. I’m still going to try and highlight a lot of outside events cause those are inherently safer than indoor ones, even with additional safety precautions in place. Related: check out these pictures from the Mesh record release show last night in the courtyard of the new Space 1026.

First thing is tonight’s Dominic Angelella show at Sunflower, the fledgling outdoor space up on North 5th that’s been absolutely killing it recently. Dominic has written a ton of absolutely brilliant songs but you know I’ll be up front just heckling him to play his Choking Victim cover. Also on the bill are the great Lizdelise and Koof.

Tuesday be sure to tune in to America’s Got Talent to watch and vote for hometown heroes and total freaks Johnny Showcase. I don’t totally know how this works or really what any of that means but you can read more about it on the band’s Instagram.

On Thursday night at the Dolphin it’s the return of Nippon Leagues, the Japanese disco and city pop night that’s been going for a few years at this point. I haven’t been to that kind of thing in a very, very long time but the promise of Yellow Magic Orchestra and snacks from Japan – and the fact that the Dolphin asks for proof of vaccination – might just bring me out. One way or the other, you should definitely show up cause it’ll be a fun time.

Friday at Milo up in Mt. Airy it’s an evening of Eastern European and Turkish music with West Philly Orchestra and Barraka. At Ortlieb’s it’s the debut of Rid Of Me, the new-ish – pandemic kinda got in the way of things – noise rock band made up of members of Soul Glo, Fight Amp, Low Dose, and more. You can read more about them in our profile here. They’ll be playing with Tangled Up and Halfsister. Also that night it’s the record release show for dream pop outfit Miss Cantaloupe in the Franklin Square Beer Garden, which sounds like a lovely place for an outdoor show.

Speaking of Rid Of Me, be sure to check out the set they just recorded for the Under the First Floor podcast cause it’s awesome.

The Philadelphia Folk Festival is happening that weekend. Though it was supposed to be a limited capacity in-person thing, they decided to shift it online. A total bummer cause I was very much looking forward to everything but also it was the right thing to do considering the large crowds and older audience that the festival gets. Check out the schedule on their website cause there are some fantastic acts playing including Peggy Seeger, Dar Williams, Bettye Lavette, and so many more. The Folksong Society does great work and it truly pains me to see how much the pandemic has ruined things.

Saturday afternoon it’s finally time for that Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!) and Brendan Kelly (Broadways, Lawrence Arms, The Falcoln) show at Four Seasons Total Landscaping. Yes, that Four Seasons Total Landscaping, the one that was immortalized in that absolutely bizarre post-election news conference. You better believe that Laura Jane Grace will be playing “Baby, I’m An Anarchist” and everyone there better sing along. If you didn’t get tickets for that very sold out show, she’ll be at KFN that night and Sunday, too. Of course those are also sold out but maybe you’ll figure out a way in. I have faith.

At Century on Saturday night experimental drone rockers Heavenly Bodies are playing their first show back. Philly grunge band Larlene and DC’s jangly post-punks BRNDA are also on the bill.

This seems like a good spot to pause the calendar and run through some releases that dropped recently. I try and stay up top of things both for this column and my regular show on WKDU but I also always appreciate when bands reach out. You know, just in case you’re in a band and want some coverage.

Drivel – DRVL (Self-released)

When I wrote about Drivel in December of last year I described the duo of Joe DeCarolis and Sam Levine as making “very pretty and interesting post-punky electronic stuff” but this new album is both far angrier and a lot more shoegaze. Even the more ambient parts have a certain animosity to them. I am into it. It’s also a good reminder that even though DeCarolis might be better known nowadays for his work with Hurry, he cut his teeth in hardcore and post-punk bands like Psychic Teens.

Toe Ring – Collapsed Mine // This is The End (Self-released)

This two song EP by Toe Ring – Sims Harden from Dark Web and Mesh and Leslie Burnette of Louie Louie – is an absolutely perfect end-of-summer synth pop gem. It’s catchy, it’s fun, and it leaves you wanting more. Check it out and make sure to let the band know you want more.

Chemical Fix – Our Shade Casts Far (Safe Inside Records)

If the new one from Chemical Fix doesn’t make you want to mosh something than I don’t really know what to tell you. The four piece hardcore band absolutely brings it on this one, their second release and first since 2018. With nine songs clocking in at barely 15 minutes there is no room to stop and catch your breath. It’s fast, loud, and absolutely pissed in every way. Turn it up!

Moor Mother – Black Encyclopedia of the Air (ANTI-)

I know that Moor Mother’s new album isn’t coming out until next month but she’s put three tracks up so far and I think that’s reason enough to talk about it. Also, you should probably pre-order a copy. Just saying. Black Encyclopedia of the Air is Camae’s first release for ANTI- Records and is a collaboration with Swedish soundscape musician Olof Melander, who she’s worked with a bunch in the past. Everything about this one is just heavy and thick, the music matching the lyrics matching the mood we’ve all been in for the past year and a half.

Check out the video for “Obsidian” featuring Pink Siifu:

Blues Ambush – S/T (Self-released)

So while this came out more than a month ago, it totally wasn’t on my radar until the band recently played an outside show somewhere up near Temple. With members of Storks, Elkhorn, and Jackie O Motherfucker, this is not surprisingly absolutely loud and crushing psych-y noise rock. Or is that noisy psych rock? Either way works. The two tracks on this self-titled release clock in at about 13 minutes each and they’re both absolutely perfect trips into the ether so strap yourself in, maybe grab some headphones, and just go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

When it comes to archival material and other things you ought to check out, top of that pile is Richie Charles from Richie Records / Astute Palate / Petty Bunco on Mike Watt’s podcast The Watt from Pedro Show. Watt has all sorts of neat people on his show – the day before Richie it was Lou Barlow, which is rad – and I am always excited when there’s some hometown representation. You can listen to that here.

As far as the regular “What has Freedom Has No Bounds posted recently?” segment of the column, this time around it’s a super cool collection of Mikey Wild tracks! I loved Mikey and really appreciated everything he did both as a musician and an artist and I am stoked to dive into these tapes. The Mayor of South Street might have passed away a decade ago but he will truly live forever.

Mikey Wild | Photo courtesy of Freedom Has No Bounds

I don’t know if you regularly watch the Big Questions with The Dead Milkmen series on YouTube but it has consistently been one of the most fun things any band has done during the pandemic. Last week’s episode about cover songs was both hilarious and interesting and if you’re a fan of the band – and who isn’t? – you should check it out. Also, they recently announced that they got together to practice for the first time since the before times and I’m very excited about that.

Okay, I have been going on for far too long – as usual – so let’s hop back into the calendar and wrap things up.

On the 25th and 26th there are back-to-back record release shows at PhilaMOCA. Wednesday it’s Bleary Eyed with Sun Organ, Snoozer, Big Nick, and Acid Freek opening. On Thursday catch Rentboy at their release with openers Highnoon and Fast Car Slow Car.

The following evening it’s the sold out Sun Rot, Witching, Quiet Man, and Lástima gig at Century and the equally sold out Sheer Mag, Dark Thoughts, and Poison Ruïn show at PhilaMOCA. With these limited capacity shows it truly is imperative to get tickets ahead of time. If like me you’re out of luck and looking for something to do that night check out the free screening in Clark Park of Concrete Cowboy, the new film about a teenager who becomes involved with the Philadelphia Black cowboys.

Saturday you have a choice between a sold out night two of the Sheer Mag PhilaMOCA weekend residency – Dridge and TVO – and over at Laurel Hill Cemetery a screening of Phantom of the Opera with accompaniment by the Not So Silent Orchestra. Finally the last event on my calendar is that Sunday with, yes, Sheer Mag, this time with Public Acid and ICD 10. That show might even still have some tickets available but you better act fast.

Before I end this I want to put some future dates on your calendar, specifically the Open Sound series out in Lansdowne that just announced their schedule for September. Read more about that here and be sure to follow their Instagram. Also, before summer totally passes you by, make it a point to head over to Fairmount Park and go on the self-guided musical “tour” put together by composer Ellen Reid and featuring the Philadelphia Orchestra that shifts and changes depending on where you walk along the path. You can read more about that in our article that was published a few days ago.

Alright, that does it for August. As always you can hit me up on Twitter with any tips @talkofthetizzy. Please wear a mask and I’ll see you at the show!

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