Archive for the ‘Ardmore Music Hall’ Category

[ATTENDED: June 30, 2022] Man Man

I have seen Man Man twice before and each show was a wild extravaganza of fun and craziness.  Lead Man, Honus Honus knows how to put on a show–part lounge, part punk, part WTF.  It’s a spectacle in the best possible way.

This was the first time I Was seeing them as the headliner–they did headliner Philly Music fest, but it was a Festival, not a Man Man show.  The crowd was there for Man Man and they were pretty rowdy and wiled up (I didn’t really care for them).

But we were all there to see the band put on a great show.  So the lights dimmed, the band came out and soon enough Honus Honus walked up to his keyboard (which, as always, abuts the drums that sit at the front of the stage) and the launched right into their latest single “Cloud Nein.”

The band recently (pre-pandemic) put out a new album, Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between, and this was their first time back in Philly since the album came out.  They were well practiced with the song with Honus standing up and getting everyone to sing along.

It was followed by an oldie, the swinging surfy “Piranhas Club.”  It’s impossible to keep track of what everyone is doing on stage.  Especially since everyone seems to play whatever they can get their hands on during the next song.  As for a lineup.  I’m seeing:
Jazz Diesel on drums, Smunk Smalls on guitar, Eggs Foster on keyboards, Mature Kevin on marimba, and Hard Tay on wind instruments.

Next came a new song.  Not a new song on the new album, but a new, unreleased song.  This would be the first of several new unreleased songs.  This one was called “Iguana” and featured several deep chants of “Iguana!” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 30, 2022] A Hard Tay’s Night

I was pretty excited to see Man Man again and I didn’t really care who the opening band was.

Originally it was supposed to be Pink $ock, whom I have listened to and hated–a cheesy R&B lounge act that I was glad not to have to sit through.  He was replaced by A Hard Tay’s Night, which I didn’t understand the name of.  And didn’t really understand the concept of until it was over.

A Hard Tay’s Night is the creation of Taylor Plenn who is the saxophone player for Man Man.  Taylor, according to him plays saxophone, flute and EWI (an Electronic Wind Instrument that is a synthesizer controlled by breath) and is “known for my improvising skills and my ability to adapt to different genres. I have had experience performing and recording a wide variety of styles, from hard bop, rock and roll, blues, free jazz, hip hop, electronic music.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 10, 2017] Marco Benevento

Almost exactly five years ago to the day I saw Marco Benevento headline a show at the Ardmore Music Hall.  That show blew me away, it was so much fun.  The whole band: Marco on keyboards, Karina Rykman on bass and Andy Borger on drums were terrific.  And the three of them laid down a fantastic groove all night.

The trio was almost the same tonight. This time Dave Butler was on drums, but it was still Marco and Karina.  I looked up Karina and found that she is 23, which means she was 18 last time!  She was fantastic then and even better tonight.

There was supposed to be an opening act: Deer Scout.  But for whatever reason, they didn’t come and it was announced a few days ago that Marco would play two sets.

I arrived a little later than I wanted to, but he didn’t go on exactly at 8, so that was fine.  I was also amused because for the first time in a while, I was one of the youngest people there.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead had played three nights in Philly a few weeks ago and it was clear that people who were at that show were here as well (Marco plays with JRAD, although his music is not similar at all).  There was a lot of tie-dye and a lot of long gray beards.  I decided not to get mixed up with that crowd so I hung back a bit. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 22, 2021] KT Tunstall / Christine Havrilla [moved from August 23, 2020]

So KT Tunstall was supposed to play three shows in my area.  The show at Ardmore was added when the other shows were rescheduled.  Then COVID pushed the shows back again.

For some reason this show was listed as being on December 8 for a short time before it was corrected to being on December 22.

That meant that it looked like she was playing four shows in the Philly area at different venues.

I like Ardmore, although if I can see a band closer I will go there instead.  Even though KT’s SOPAC show was postponed, the fact that it was postponed and not cancelled meant that I could just wait until she came back to South Orange. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 2, 2021] Darlingside / Lullanas

S. and I love Darlingside and have seem them several times.  I have them on my list of bands to see wherever and whenever. But sometimes things get in the way.

I think seeing them at Ardmore Music Hall would be a treat.  The sound would be amazing.  But sometimes getting to Ardmore is a hassle.

Plus, it actually felt nice to stay home for a week.  So we blew off this show, safe in the knowledge that they’ll be back to entertain us in the not too distant future.

I’d never heard of Lullanas.  According to their label

Twin sisters Atisha and Nishita Lulla, aka LULLANAS, create songs wrapped in Americana warmth, folk eloquence, country storytelling, and unassuming pop ambition. Their debut EP, Before Everything Got Real, thrives on an inimitable and familial balance.

They sound like an excellent complement to Darlingside.

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[ATTENDED: October 9, 2021] The Menzingers

I saw The Menzingers open for Weezer back in 2016 and really enjoyed them.  I’d been wanting to see them again mostly because I was really far from the band when I saw them and couldn’t really get into it the way I might have liked.

So when they were listed as headlining two nights of Philly Music Fest I knew I had to see them.  Especially in a small place like Ardmore Music Hall.

I have only been to Ardmore a couple of times.  My favorite show there was Marco Benevento where the sound was outstanding.  Even right up against the stage.  Well, for this show I was right up against the stage (although as more and more people crowded into the place, I moved away from the band’s more devoted (and a little crazy) fans.  But apparently I never got far back enough because literally all I could hear the whole show was Tom May’s guitar.  And May tends to play lead licks and solos, so I never really got the backing chords of Greg Barnett unless May wasn’t playing anything (which happened from time to time).

Obviously it was more fun being able to see bassist Eric Keen and drummer Joe Godino (who I couldn’t see at all last time), but it was weird having the sound so disjointed.  Throughout the set I tries moving further and further away from the stage, but I was never able to get further to the middle. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 9, 2021] Control Top

I saw Control Top open for Ted Leo a couple of years ago and they were amazing.

I have been wanting to see them again live.  They’ve had a few shows cancelled and there was no real plan for them to play again in 2021, but then they were asked to play Philly Music Fest and I grabbed tickets right away.

Control Top is a trio of bassist/singer Ali Carter, guitarist Al Creedon and drummer Alex Lichtenauer.  They play a mix of raging screaming songs and somewhat more mellow raging songs.

Carter’s hair was dyed silver and looked pretty great.  She played a perfect combination of looking very nice and then raging really intensely.  It was great being up close and watching her expression change as she went from verse to angry chorus. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 9, 2021] highnoon

Philly Music Fest started in 2017.  I went to a show in 2019–a great line up!  Last year was online only, but this year it was back.  The lineup was different and wonderful.  And, thankfully, the two bands I wanted to see most were on the same bill.

I hadn’t heard of highnoon.  Artist Kennedy Freeman launched Highnoon in 2019.   Now Highnoon is led by Kennedy Freeman with longtime collaborator, Justin Roth on drums, Brendan Simpson on guitar, and Nathan Avila on bass.

I listened to their music and found it pretty and quiet.   Their new EP, Divers is their first body of work since their debut record, Semi Sweet.

I wasn’t expecting a pretty rocking set from this seemingly quiet foursome.  Actually, singer Freeman maintained a pretty quiet level throughout, but she was counterbalanced by some pretty wild guitar shredding from Simpson.  I took some really cool videos of Simpson’s playing, but at this time, Instagram decided that it would no longer allow me to move my video up or down to get the main part of the video into focus. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: February 12, 2021] KT Tunstall / New Reveille [rescheduled from March 27, 2020; moved to December 10, 2021]


The SOPAC site says that new dates will be announced for this show.  It’s nice to read postponed rather than cancelled.

When it was announced that KT Tunstall was going to play SOPAC, my first thought was probably, huh, she’s still around?

Then over the last few months I’ve been seeing more and more about her.  I also feel like her name keeps cropping up in local venues.

After listening to a live show of hers on WXPN, I realized that she’s really good (and released songs I didn’t realize were hers).  I had no intention of going to this show but with all of her shows rescheduled and the new one being moved to next year, this might be a nice show to go to.

New Reveille is an Americana/bluegrass band from North Carolina.  They’ve got banjo, fiddle and a ton of attitude.  While they are definitely in the country vein, I think the bluegrass and the rockingness (they cover The Killers live) makes them a potentially fun live band.  For the three shows in the area, she has three different opening acts.  This one might be the most fun.


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SOUNDTRACK: JAPANESE BREAKFAST-Live at Philly Music Fest @Ardmore Music Hall, Philadelphia PA, September 25, 2020).

I saw Japanese Breakfast back in 2018 at Union Transfer.  It was a really fun show.  Since Michelle Zauner is from Philly she really made the show personal. 

During the introduction to her set for Philly Music Fest, the announcer said that he’d been trying to get Japanese Breakfast to play this festival since it began.  So one good thing about the pandemic was that the band was still in Philly and not world touring.

We got to watch the band come out from back stage, take up their instruments and start “Diving Woman.”  This song has a wonderful, memorable bass line and a jamming guitar solo from her lead guitarist.

For this show she had the addition of Molly on violin.  Molly added so much to the upbeat and poppy “In Heaven.”

Michelle put down the guitar for “The Woman That Loves You,” a shorter song that was followed by the funkier “Road Head.”  This song is really catchy and has a very interesting slide sound from the bass.

It was funny to see her not playing the guitar because usually when she just had the microphone, she would interact with the crowd some.  But she only had the video monitor to look at.  Nevertheless, after the song she said “it feels great to feel like you have a purpose again.”

They played a new song–the first time the band played it together–called  “Kokomo Indiana” which is from the perspective of a love-lorn 17 year-old boy whose girlfriend moved to Australia for a summer exchange program.  It was a slower song with a slide guitar melody.

Michelle returned to the guitar for “Boyish” the catchy song from her old band Little Big League, with the chorus

I can’t get you off my mind
I can’t get you off in general
so here we are we’re just two losers
I want you and you want something more beautiful

Up next was “The Body is a Blade” with some slinky guitar lines.  After the song, someone triggered a sample of a crowd cheering, which was fun to hear and made Michele laugh.

Michelle put the guitar down again for “Essentially,” with a dynamite bass line that runs through the song.

Then she sat at the keyboard for the next song.  A new one called “Tactic.”  This is the first time she’s sat at the keyboard, “I feel very professional.” Her guitarist also played keys for this slow song.

She commented that it was lovely to see The Districts play–they are rehearsal space buddies and she felt it was surreal hearing them practice for the same show that her band was.

Then it as time for an old classic, the bouncy “Heft,” with a really nifty guitar line after the chorus.

During the quarantine, Michelle made a quarantine music project with Ryan from Crying.  The band is called BUMPER, and they released an EP called Pop Songs 2020.  She did a countrified version of the song “Ballad O” which was a look at both perspectives from Kenny Roger’s “Don’t Take Your Love To Town.”  Peter plays the slide guitar and the drummer sings the male parts.

She announced that her bass player Devon was going to get married (cue the fake cheers from the sampler) and so she was going to play a sing about marriage, “Til Death.”  This is the first song I’d heard from Japanese Breakfast many years ago and it always sounds great live.  The opening verse feels even more poignant today:

all our celebrities keep dying
while the cruel men continue to win

Then came a surprise cover: Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels.”  Musically it sounded spot on and I enjoyed her vocal take on it–not unusual or weird, just very differed with her voice instead of Roland Orzabal’s.  Then for the “da da da da” part at the end, three of The Districts came out (with masks on) to sing into one of the microphones.  It was a wonderful moment of live spontaneity (or not, but still) that is what makes live shows so much fun.

They followed that with a ripping version of “Everybody Wants to Love You.”  The drummer sang the backing vocals on this part to good effect.

Michelle took a moment before the last song to use her platform and say that of course “Black Lives Matter.  Not just saying it, it means marching and fighting.  Please vote.  We must work to defund the police and invest in our communities.”

That’s another thing I’d missed about live shows–bonding over good causes.

They ended with a “goofy” cover of a “Taste of Ink” by The Used.   I don’t know the song or the band, but it was a jangly bouncing song and the most rocking song of the night.

And then it was over.   While it was nice not having to drive an hour to get home, I still would have preferred to be there (although maybe not right now).

Diving Woman [§]
In Heaven [¶]
The Woman That Loves You [¶]
Road Head [§]
Kokomo, Indiana [new]
Boyish [Little Big League song]
The Body is a Blade [§]
Essentially [newish]
Tactic [new]
Heft [¶]
Ballad 0 [BUMPER song]
Til Death [§]
Head Over Heels [Tears for Fears cover]
Everybody Wants to Love You [¶]
Taste of Ink [The Used cover]

[§] Soft Sounds from Another Planet (2017)
[¶] Psychopomp (2016)

[READ: September 24, 2020] “Sultana’s Dream”

During the COVID Quarantine, venerable publisher Hingston & Olsen created, under the editorship of Rebecca Romney, a gorgeous box of 12 stories.  It has a die-cut opening to allow the top book’s central image to show through (each book’s center is different).  You can get a copy here.

This is a collection of science fiction stories written from 1836 to 1998.  Each story imagines the future–some further into the future than others.

As it says on the back of the box

Their future.  Our present.  From social reforms to climate change, video chat to the new face of fascism, Projections is a collection of 12 sci-fi stories that anticipated life in the present day.

About this story, Romney writes

I first learned about Muslim Bengalese feminist and writer Begum Rokeya through a massive landmark anthology: Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s The Big Book of Science Fiction published in 2016. …  The story was first published in The Indian Ladies Journal in 1905…. She simply switches the roles of men and women in her Muslim society.  This may seem like a simple trick, but … writers of science fiction have long known that sometimes a switch on perspective is all it takes to illuminate truths that are otherwise obscure.

This story is pretty simple and straightforward.  A woman, Sultana, falls asleep.  She dreams (or is it real?) that a woman named Sister Sara has come to walk her through the streets of Darjeeling. (more…)

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