philly music scene

May 19, 2016 11:24 am

As a musician touring can be hard. For Philadelphia musician/superhero Eliza Hardy Jones, who tours with Grace Potter, its double duty, opening shows with her own music and then playing keyboard in Potter’s band. For her it’s easy, “we’ll play my set, and then change into our sparkling GP gear and hit the stage again.”

Jones has played in tons of bands including Buried Beds, mewithoutYou, and Strand of Oaks, but decided to release solo music as a way to find her own voice:

“I play in all of these different contexts — classical, country, pop, indie rock — and I love them all, but I wanted to write and record something that had no boundary around what it ‘should’ be.”

And music fans everywhere should be happy she did.

Her sound is lofty and delicate but also raw and hard-hitting. Simply put, her music is beautiful, reminiscent of early morning when the sun has barely risen and everything is serene and quiet (about the same time I look at my phone, realize how late I am, slam down coffee and sprint out the door.) Those moments that you truly appreciate.

“Criminal” is the lead track off of Because Become. It’s an ambient and floaty track, Hardy Jones sings “I am tired, I am cold, I am angry,” (insert picture of me raising my fist in solidarity here.) Her voice is warm yet aching, making her words bite at you ensuring you feel the pure emotion in every track.

Eliza Hardy Jones certainly hitting all the right notes with this release. Catch her at XPN Fest this July with other local Philly bands Kississippi and Queen Of Jeans.

April 26, 2016 5:23 pm

Mostly everyone feels what my mom calls “Sunday night blues,” not wanting the weekend to end, especially if your job is particularly taxing.

Into It. Over It.,The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, The Sidekicks and Pinegrove made a stop in Philly on 4/24 at the TLA, packed it from wall to wall and made everyone (even me— a militant hater of Sunday nights) forget their dread for Monday morning.

It was my first time seeing the New Jersey band Pinegrove but after listening to Cardinal enough times to challenge its physical value, I was due.

pinegrovePinegrove is definitely one of the most talked about and most loved bands I’ve heard about in a while. Not often do you see entire crowds singing along to the first band to play but that wasn’t the case for them. The Run For Cover Records band has a “they’re from Jersey?” twang that makes them stick out from most of the cookie cutter indie bands. One might describe their sound is “alt-country” or “emo folk.” However you want to describe Pinegrove’s sound, this band is seriously sick. I’m pretty good with my predictions, and if I’m correct they’ll be selling out their own headliner at the TLA in no time.

Ohio band The Sidekicks came on after and played a guitar heavy, high-energy set. A throwback to old school Indie, The Sidekicks are definitely one of the most exciting, and coolest bands in the indie scene today. Steve Ciolek, the band’s frontman has the perfect vocals (often compared to Ben Bridgewell from Band of Horses) for venues like the TLA.

Shortly after, TWIABP followed. Every time I see them play I am in constant awe and if I had to use one word to describe their live sets it would definitely be intense. And then if I could use more words, they would probably be something like, beautiful, unique, captivating (…alright I’ll stop before I embarrass myself). TWIABP is truly a band you have to experience in live and person, but I’ll try to do them justice. They mostly played songs off of Harmlessness, their Sophomore album. The set showcased David Bello’s striking vocals, which are as comforting as they are vehement.  Every musician in the band is talented and they all add to the puzzle that is The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. It’s also worth mentioning that the band has a hilarious online presence.

Lastly, Into It. Over It. took the stage. It’s safe to say that Evan Weiss is one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever seen or heard. Being 5 weeks into this tour can be tiring, but with the energy he brings to the band’s sets, he’s cemented his place as a tremendously good frontman, but anyone who listens to them already knows this. Touring after recently releasing Standards, there’s as much spirit in the live performance as on the record. Whether it’s the honest song writing or just his charisma Weiss passionately connects with his audience.

It’s aways very refreshing to see an artist who puts as much so much of themselves into their art, and genuinely appreciative of everything he as accomplished. As with a lot of artists who roll through Philly, Weiss (originally from Cherry Hill, NJ) shared fond memories of the city, and thanked Philly for being so good to him always.

It’s things like that which make me truly love Philadelphia (and forgiving that there’s so many Wawa’s and zero Sheetz in the area, ah East Coast gas station wars.)


December 21, 2015 8:48 am

“Hello Philadelphia, it’s been a while,” Foals’ frontman shouted out to the crowd who was in attendance at the Union Transfer December 19th. “Are you ready to fucking rock?”

And the crowd certainly was.

The last time Foals played a show in the City of Brotherly Love was in 2011 at the TLA and before that, in 2008 at Johnny Brenda’s. It’s baffling to picture the Oxford playing a show at a small bar after the show I watched them play last night.


Photo by Kenzie Gasper

Philadelphia was their last U.S. date so I knew the show was going to be insane, and after seeing them two years ago in New York City (and waiting all night to meet them — I was a teenager, ok?) I tried to prepare myself for what I was about to ensue, but there was no preparing.

Foals took the stage at about 9 P.M. and opened with “Snake Oil” off their new album What Went Down (an album I’d definitely consider as one of the best of this year) and immediately got the crowd energized. Even some of the security guards were bobbing their heads to this serious jam. Yannis Philippakis, Foal’s frontman had already begun doing his signature moves — which aren’t really moves, just him running back and forth, jumping, and spinning like a madman. To each his own.

If Foals decided to leave the venue, I’m almost certain everyone would be fine with it, as the first song was a show in itself. But they didn’t, they continued with “Olympic Airways” and added in “Balloons,” older songs from Antidotes, their first album. It was at this point I began to feel like a teenager again, wanting to scream at the top of my lungs due to the sheer force this band brought. Thankfully, there were two drunk girls next to me who did enough screaming for all of us!

Halfway through, the band slowed it down with “Spanish Sahara,” which is a long song, but a very beautiful one. As Philippakis shouted “I’m the fury in your head, I’m the fury in your bed, I’m the ghost in the back of your head” into the microphone, I looked around and saw mostly everyone in the crowd, myself included, singing along.

The band ended their set with “Inhaler,” one of their most popular songs, and looking out into the crowd I saw everyone on their feet screaming back at Philippakis. After the band left the stage the entire Union Transfer began chanting so loud that it sounded like I was at a futbol game.


Photo by Kenzie Gasper

The band came back to play “Mountain At My Gates” and “What Went Down,” and I knew what song was coming next. As a huge Foals fan I almost feel it’s a religious experience to see “Two Steps, Twice” at least once in your life and thats exactly what happened.

The rest of the band started playing as Philippakis was notably absent from the stage, but suddenly a spotlight hit the balcony and there he was. If you aren’t a Foals fan you’d probably be really confused at what he was doing, and if you probably wouldn’t want to be standing underneath him.

In the blink of an eye he jumped from off the balcony and fans caught him. He then crowd surfed back to stage to finish the set.  Foals won NME’s best live band award and it’s obvious why. This band truly puts their heart, blood, and a lot of sweat on to every stage they play. I wouldn’t be surprised if Foals became the biggest band in the world.

The band is hitting up Australia next, and doing a run around Europe, so if you want to catch them, you’ll have to wait a little, but until then check out their new album if you haven’t had the chance!

November 16, 2015 8:08 am

In celebration of his new album Beach Music, Philly-based musician Alex G played a sold-out show at the First Unitarian Church this past Saturday.


Alex Giannascoli, aka Alex G rose to prominence in the Philly DIY scene while studying at Temple University and has been quickly gaining recognition for his homegrown approach to music. The indie rock/lo-fi artist is known for recording alone in his bedroom, a factor that aids in creating a sound that’s uniquely his own.

Joining him for this special hometown show was folk punk duo Girlpool, as well as Brooklyn’s Eskimeaux and one-man electropop act Brandon Can’t Dance, whom I particularly enjoyed.  I was also excited to see Girlpool after hearing about them through friends, and I was not disappointed. I had never heard of Eskimeaux prior to this show but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by front-woman Gabrielle Smith’s vocals and low-key disposition.

At around 9:45, Alex G took to the stage and was met with enthusiastic cheers from the crowd of mostly teens and 20-somethings. Being that this was a hometown show, many of the attendees were personal friends of Alex or fellow musicians showing their support.  Alex played a long set of both old and new songs (Beach Music is his seventh album!) and had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand.  It seemed like almost everyone in the room was dancing, or at least swaying from side to side, and Alex even busted out a few of his own moves at one point.

In all honesty, this was probably one of the most intimate shows I’ve ever attended, due to both the size of the venue and the feeling of love and support that filled the room.  Alex G is without a doubt one of Philadelphia’s finest young musicians, and I can’t wait to see where his career takes him.

November 2, 2015 12:02 am

It was a drizzly, damp evening. The Boot & Saddle is a cosey South Philly music venue that bring in a wide range of indie upstarts befitting its intimate setting. Carroll is a Minneapolis four-piece that creates gentle, lush sound collages tinged with swirls of mild psychedelia. The quaint stage a perfect platform to usher in their debut self-titled album and kick off a brief tour of the East Coast.

keys1Carroll are a young band and you can tell. They haven’t gotten all of the nerves out yet, there are some hesitancies, nervous fidgeting, minor nuances in their stage presence. To be fair, I’ve always found the smaller crowds make it tougher to get into your groove. Large crowds are so all-encompassing- insignificant little ants. Smaller audiences are a nerve-racker, brings you back to classroom stage-freight. There’s nothing covering up even the most trivial imperfection, missed note, belting out a line in the wrong key. None of this mattered though, Carrol’s sound mirage was spectacular.

Colorful interlocking guitars. Vibrant vocal harmonies. Swift, punchy drums that gave the music an energetic punch. Waves of deep, robust bass- filling out the hazey soundscape. They played through the highlights from their new album no particular order, and also threw in a few bonus concoctions. All in all a solid set. Each song had a new and unexpected transition, rewarding avid listeners with a fresh dynamic.

This promising new band is traveling across the country to rile up hype for an album they’d put countless hours into, and that passion and genuine love to entertain spews out.  Definitely catch them if they come through your city.

I got a chance to ask Carroll’s bassist, Charles McClung, a few questions prior to their show, discuss the origin of the name “Carroll”, transplanting from the outskirts of Minneapolis to Philly, and the nervous energy associated with a new album. Here’s what he had to say:

So we know the name Carroll is derived from the Iconic Minneapolis hot spot, what brought you to name your band after that?

We named the band after the avenue in St. Paul where Brian and Charlie started the band. In our own way, we made it a hot spot, although I doubt anyone else would consider it such.

I looked up name “Carroll” online, it’s a surname, Irish in origin, meaning “manly” or “champion”…so you guys believe you’re “manly champions”?!  

We would be very hesitant to call ourselves manly champions.

You guys are picking steam in Minneapolis and you’re summoned to record an album out here in Philly. What was that like?  

It’s funny you use the word “summoned”! We definitely learned a thing or two about the art of summoning from that experience; namely, summoning the psychedelic vibes from within!

How does that compare to the Northern Wilderness?

On a more serious note, it was definitely a rad experience to leave the Twin Cities to record in a totally different creative environment out here in Philadelphia. Some of us liked it enough to move out here, actually. Both cities are special places.

Recording tracks in a studio environment versus recording demos out in the woods are very different experiences. I think we have an affinity for both domains, though. Disparate inspirations come into play.

Apparently you guys recorded the album in 18 days–did you guys actually get to check out the city?  Or were you locked up in the studio the entire time?

You can fit a lot into 18 days, as it turns out! We were able to finish tracking and get a feel for the city as a whole during that recording session. Some days were more stressful than others, both in and out of the studio. From Max taking his sweet time dialing in guitar tones to Charles getting lost in South Philadelphia looking at murals… it was a fun time.

Are you looking forward to returning to Philly and playing the Boot & Saddle?  Philly’s a pretty fun crowd, right?!?

Yeah, Philadelphians are a hoot. We actually just peeped Here We Go Magic at Boot & Saddle earlier this week, and we’re excited to get back in there!

How was it working with Jon Low (who’s produced Kurt Vile, The War On Drugs, The National, and many more) you must have been absolutely floored.

Jon Low is a wizard. But he’s not the only one. See for evidence.

Releasing a record is a major milestone for any up-and-coming band. Are you more anxious or excited about rolling out your self-titled second record? It sounds amazing by the way- as if my opinion counted for anything.

Thank you so much! Your opinion totally counts, don’t sell yourself short! Although we are generally an anxious bunch, I think that it would be the wrong adjective to describe our view on our record. We’re proud of it and happy that it’s out in the world now.

October 19, 2015 8:58 am

Opening to a packed house at Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA was the band As It Is.  They are a five member Pop Punk/Alternative Rock group from the UK and they got everyone revved up.

Second to the stage was the duo This Wild Life from Long Beach, CA. Kevin Jordan absolutely killed it with those vocals. Their music has a pop-rock acoustic feel to it. They were on Warped Tour this past summer, so they know what they’re doing.

The third band up was Real Friends from Chicago.  Their music is an eclectic mix of Rock, Pop Punk and Emo. Their song “Better With You” is a beautiful love song. They kept the crowd moving, dancing, crowd surfing and singing along to all their songs.

By the time MAYDAY PARADE took the stage, the floor and the balcony were packed solid with screams filling the air. The band consists of vocalist Derek Sanders, guitarists Brooks Betts and Alex Garcia, bassist Jeremy Lenzo and drummer Jake Bundrick.  They are from Tallahassee, Florida. Smoke filled the stage as the rock/alternative band emerged while the crowd chanted MAYDAY.  The audience was holding up their phones and they were moving their heads along with the strong beats. This was the second night of their tour. They have been a band for ten years and just put out their fifth album.  The second song “Jamie All Over” got the crowd jumping all over the place and singing along. The stage lighting added to an already incredible performance. If you get a chance to see them on their current tour I would definitely recommend it.


Photos by @camiliberty