For nearly fourteen years I was able to keep up this daily blog of books and music.

About a year ago I got a promotion and that changed everything.  I no longer had the time to post everything I wanted to.  Heck, I didn’t even seem to have the time to read all the short stories I wanted to.  Amusingly (or not), just before this new position, I had gotten a print subscription to the New Yorker.  This now means that I (like many others) have a two-foot stack of New Yorker magazines that I haven’t even looked at yet.

For a few weeks I was limiting myself to only the concerts that I went to because that was a little easier to write about.  Although back in the good old days, I used to include photo and links, and I pretty much have neither now. And I’m several shows behind as well.

So I’m still reading books and I think I may try to post some thoughts about them from time to time.  I’d also like to think I have time to write about my concerts, but even those are proving to be challenging.

So let’s consider the blog on hiatus more or less, with occasional posts about things I’ve read or listened to.

The good thing is that I like the new position and wouldn’t change it for the world. I guess I never realized how much down time my old position gave me!

[DID NOT ATTEND: March 29, 2023] Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul / Rentboy

Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul put out an album (with a very cool cover) in 2022 that was on most Year End lists.  Musically it is described as effortlessly propulsive electro pop, but lyrically it is sharp and targeted.

Cultural appropriation and racism. Social media vanity. Post-colonialism and political correctness. These are not talking points that you’d ordinarily hear on the dancefloor but Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul are ripping up the rulebook with their debut album Topical Dancer. The Ghent-based duo, who broke out with their 2019 Zandoli EP on Soulwax’s record label DEEWEE, are rare storytellers in electronic music: they take the temperature of the time and funnel them into their playful synth concoctions – never didactic and always with a knowing wink.

Their new studio record – which cements them as a duo under both their names for the first time and is co-written and co-produced by Soulwax – is both a triumph of kaleidoscopic electro-pop and “a snapshot of how we think about pop culture in the 2020s.” It captures Charlotte and Bolis’s essence as musical collaborators and the conversations they’ve had over the past two years on tour, as well as their perspectives as Belgians with an immigrant background, Charlotte with Guadeloupean and French-Martinique ancestry and Bolis being of Chinese descent.

It’s not really my type of thing, but I thought it would be really interesting to experience.  If i had less going on this week, I would have tried harder to get to the show.

Rentboy is a Philadelphia based disco collective whose last album, Memory Forever, is a meditation on body memory and queer musical history

[ATTENDED: March 26, 2023] Cheekface

I first heard of Cheekface about a month ago.  I’m not even sure what made me check them out, but as soon as I did, I knew I had to see them live.

Cheekface is America’s local band.  They are a trio comprised of Amanda Tannen on bass guitar, Greg Katz on vocals and guitar
and Mark Echo Edwards on drums.

Musically, they fill a niche that is often overlooked : witty lyrics delivered in a talk-sing way, choruses that are impossible not to sing along to, and razor sharp instrumentals with the bass taking more of a lead role than the guitar on a lot of songs (thanks Get Alternative).

Indeed, the rhythm section is outstanding, with Tannen generating a fantastic bass sound as she plays the interesting melodies and Edwards using all parts of his kit to create interesting sounds.  The songs also have lots of parts–so they jump from quieter to louder, slower to faster and back again.

But all eyes are on Greg Katz (who reminded me of Will Ferrell at his most charming).  He does, indeed deliver his lyrics (which are great) in a kind of speak/sing manner.  But it’s a bit more than a poetry recital to music, because Katz emotes a lot as he delivers lines like “Pledge Drive”‘s Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: March 26, 2023] Sad Park

This was my first show at the Ukrainian American Citizens’ Association (The Ukie).

The show is in the basement bar–it felt like an improved First Unitarian Church (at least I enjoyed the space a lot more than the Church).  There’s free parking nearby.  Sadly there was no Ukrainian merch for sale–although there was plenty of Ukrainian beer!

I was a little sad to find out that Sad Park went on at 8:45 and not 8, as I got there just in time for 8.  I had done a lot of shifting of things all day so my legs were pretty beat.  Fortunately, I found a pole (not a Pole) that I could lean against.

And soon enough, the four guys from Sad Park came out on stage.

Vocalist/guitarist Graham Steele was front and center, bassist Sam Morton was in front of me and drummer Grant Bubar was in the back.  Second guitarist Aidan Memory (possibly not a full member of the band?) was the only one with a brighter light shining on him, which accentuated the bleach in his hair.

Memory was the most fun guy to watch as he jumped around and thrashed his guitar and was generally having a great time.  His guitar playing was pretty great too.

I was also really impressed with Morton’s basslines.  He wasn’t content to ape the guitar or just play the low end–there were plenty of runs that moved up the neck.

Bubar was loud and thrashing–but also handled the time changes with ease.

Steele was great fun to watch.  He emoted as he sang his lyrics of despair (sometimes) and comedy (sometimes).  He also had a great scream/growl that he busted out from time to time.

Their songs were really catchy with a fantastic energy.  But they also knew how to play quietly–usually in aid of setting up for the heavier stuff to come.  There was one moment when a guy up front lit an actual lighter (!) for a quiet moment.

There was another guy in the middle of the crowd who knew the words to every song I hope they saw him).

I thought they were great and I’m passing their name around for a (newish) band for young emo punks to enjoy.


I Should
Feel Like Shit ♦
unknown (“Such a good time, such a bad time, such a short time” “Don’t’ wanna leave you without saying thanks”)
Tragically Young
Nothing Ever
No Name §
unknown  (“After it’s all over” ” waiting, watching” “leaning on each other I know we’ll be okay”)
In My Head

◊ OMW single (2022)
≠ It’s All Over (2021)
⊗ Sleep (2018)
♦ Feel Like Shit single (2018)
§ Sad Park (2016)



[DID NOT ATTEND: March 25, 2023] Rural Alberta Advantage / Georgia Harmer

I had tickets to see Ibeyi, but when The Rural Alberta Advantage announced their show the same night, I decided I’d go to that show instead.

I wasn’t sure what our plans were for Saturday night so I didn’t get tickets ahead of time (what’s the point of buying two tickets you don’t use?).  But when I went to get tickets before the show, it was sold out!

I never would have guessed that a relatively obscure Canadian band would sell out, but they did.  Good for them/Bad for me.  I hope this means they will come back again soon.

Georgia Harmer is the niece of the outstanding Sarah Harmer.

She sings in a similar style as Sarah–their voices even have a similar timbre.  Her songs are pleasant and enjoyable–she’d be a great opening act.

[DID NOT ATTEND: March 25, 2023] Ibeyi / Ojerime [rescheduled from October 4, 2022]

I first heard of Ibeyi quite some time ago. They are sisters Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz.  They were born in Cuba but moved to France as small kids.  Both of their parents are musicians, and the sisters have a great musical connection.

I had heard that their live show was amazing and I put them high on my list of bands to see.  They were supposed to play Union Transfer back in October and I was really looking forward to seeing them there.

The show was moved to World Cafe Live which wasn’t a super big deal, although I fins getting to World Cafe Live to be far more of a pain than getting to Union Transfer.  Then I listened to the newest album and it was okay.  I still think “Deathless” is a staggeringly wonderful song, and I sure it’s genius live, but I had kind of lost interest in Ibeyi in the last few months.  And when The Rural Alberta Advantage announced a show for the same night, they ultimately won out.

Sometimes if you are not sure how a band is going to be live, you might be able to get a sense based on their opening act.  Not a foolproof plan, but it can certainly be an indicator.  I hadn’t heard of Ojerime, but when I looked her up, I saw she was described as a “nostalgic R&B queen, [whose] debut mixtape ‘B4 I Breakdown’ tracks a difficult journey through depression and self-discovery.”

That had all the elements of someone I did not want to see.  Like, at all.  So, that helped to solidify my decision not to go.

[DID NOT ATTEND: March 23, 2023] King Tuff / Tchotchke

King Tuff is Kyle Thomas.  Thomas was a member of Ty Segall’s band for a time (and Segall plays on his albums).

I really enjoyed his Black Moon Spell album, but when I saw this show was anounced, I listened to his newer album and didn’t think all that much of it.  At this point I’m kind of looking for excuses not to go to shows–there’s so many I want to go to that I’m happy to pass on iffy shows like this.  So that was a good enough reason not to go.

Tchotchke is a band from New York comprised of Anastasia Sanchez, Eva Chambers and Emily Tooraen.  They used to be called Pinky Pinky which I think is a much more apt name for the style of music they play–it’s a kind of an updated doo-wop, pop sheen aesthetic.

Really not my thing, although I heard that if you went to their merch booth after the show they handed out a tchotchke to each person.

[DID NOT ATTEND: March 19, 2023] The Messthetics / James Brandon Lewis Trio

I really like The Messthetics (including the name).  The band has at its core drummer Brendan Canty and bassist Joe Lally who were both in Fugazi.  Along with guitarist Anthony Pirog, they make cool and interesting instrumental rock.  They have been pretty high on my list of bands to see.

However, the timing of this show was kind of rough.

Plus, the opening band or co-band or maybe even headliner (it was unclear), was James Brandon Lewis Trio.  JBL is a saxophonist.  he is typically joined by Lally and Canty (I assume he was on this show as well, but who knows).

I just didn’t think I wanted to hear roughly an hour of jazz, even if it was really good (which I’m sure it was).

So I stayed home instead, and had a great night in with the fam.

[ATTENDED: March 17, 2023] Quasi

I explored Quasi’s music back in the late 1990s mostly because I loved Janet Weiss’ drum work with Sleater-Kinney.  I had no idea who Sam Coomes was (he was her husband at some point but is no longer), but he was clearly the main songwriting force behind the band (Janet is credited with some song, but Sam wrote the majority).

I lost track of them during the 2000s (they release sporadically and Sam does a ton of other work with other people–for instance he has played keyboards on every Built to Spill album since Keep It Like a Secret].  They have put out about five albums that I hadn’t heard of, including their most recent Breaking the Ball of History.

Janet Weiss got into a car accident about four years ago and broke her leg and collar bone.  It seemed like she’d never play again.  But she fought through the grief and man, she was amazing to watch.

I went to this show in part because I like their older songs and in part to give Janet Weiss some support.  She clearly didn’t need the support from me as everyone was there to cheer her on.  Apparently they used to sell “Janet Fucking Weiss” shirts, but don’t any longer.

And so they came out on stage, Janet and Sam setting up their own gear.  Since it’s just the two of them, they face each other.  Sam plays keyboards (which is the most limiting way of describing his performance) and Janet pounds the hell out of the kit. Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: March 17, 2023] Bat Fangs

I hadn’t heard of Bat Fangs when this show was announced.  But when I looked them up I was really excited to hear them. I really love duos, especially bands that can really rock even with a two person set up.

I wound up missing the very beginning of this set (parking around Johnny Brenda’s can really suck).  But I caught most of it.

Rather than being a duo, however “(Betsy Wright (Ex Hex) shreds ‘n’ howls over Laura King’s (Flesh Wounds / Speed Stick) deep-thunder drums),” there was  third person on stage playing bass.  I have recently found out that bassist was Chrissy Tashjian (lead vocalist and guitars for the amazing Philly band Thin Lips).

I was a little bummed that they weren’t a duo, but Chrissy’s bass playing was awesome and their backing vocals were pretty incredible.  Indeed, each musician was great.  Betsy Wright played some fantastic guitar solos–shredding like nobody’s business.  And Laura King not only beat the hell out of the drums, but (for some of the songs) the patterns were complex and really interesting.

However, I really didn’t enjoy the songs. Continue Reading »

[DID NOT ATTEND: March 18, 2023] White Reaper / Soul Blind / Mamalarky

I was intrigued by this show because I’d heard some good things about White Reaper.  But when I listened to them I wasn’t all that impressed.  But then WXPN started playing their single “Pages” and I really like it.

At some point I realized that I wasn’t going  to be able to make this show, so I haven’t listened to anything else by them so I didn’t know if I was missing out on something I really wanted to see.  Now that the show’s over I’ll give them a more proper listen.

Soul Blind was originally listed as on this bill, but it appears that they didn’t play.

A review describes them as:

Soul Blind is a four-piece group from the Hudson Valley, creating a fuzzy blend of shoegaze and alternative that takes inspiration from bands like The Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Third Eye Blind, and Deftones.

Aside from Third Eye Blind, I think I’d enjoy their set.

I had heard of Mamalarky on NPR Music.  Their single was a boppy weird thing that I kind of liked.  But I knew that the rest of their sound could have gone in many different directions.  The singer is from Cherry Glazerr.  According to the program they said they wanted to make a psych pop record but not from “60’s dude band.”

I feel like this whole show would have been really fun.  Probably best I didn’t find out until after it was done.