Archive for the ‘PhilaMOCA’ Category

[CANCELLED: February 28, 2023] Crawlers / Kelsy Karter

Last year my daughter and I really enjoyed the Crawlers show that we went to.

When they announced that they were going to come back to the U.S., I grabbed a ticket for us immediately.  I knew The Foundry wouldn’t be quite as intimate as PhilaMOCA, but I knew she’d still love the venue.

But then near the end of January, Crawlers informed us that they were cancelling the entire U.S. tour.

hi creepy crawlies ❤

we hate to have to do this to you, but we have the made the difficult decision to cancel our USA & Toronto dates in March. </3 please know we are just as upset as you are to have to do this, we hate to let our fans down as you guys really are making our dreams come true. we are so thankful we got to see u all last year & have fun together, and look forward to doing that with you soon when the time is right. making our album the best it can be for you is our biggest priority in the coming months. combining this with the cost of touring has brought us to this difficult decision. </3. for now, we must give our time to writing the best album that you deserve, because this one really is for you and we can’t wait to share new music. Sorry crawlers family, we will make it up to you next time and it will be more special than ever before.

for those who purchased tickets, we are offering a full refund for your ticket.

we love u and we will see you soon.

crawlers x


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[ATTENDED: June 4, 2022] Crawlers

Out of the blue one day my daughter begged me to get her tickets to see a band I had never heard of.  They were called Crawlers from the UK.  They were touring the US for the first time and could she please please please go to a club called PhilaMOCA.

So Crawlers, it turns out are an alt-rock/punk band who are pretty darn cool.

We were in front of guitarist Amy Woodall and on the far side was bassist Liv Kettle who had the best look going on–great eye liner and huge kick ass boots.

Lead singer Holly Minto was up front engaging with everyone.  She was fun and warm and welcoming and was just a delight.  And in the back was Harry Breen smashing up the drum set.  They’ve been playing together for a few years now and Minto and Kettle have been friends forever.  They have a great stage rapport.

Crawlers had made some waves via TikTok and it was clear that their fan base was young, and they were especially speaking to young women.  I tried my best to get out of the way to let the young women have the font, but I also didn’t want to leave me daughter by herself, so we kind of hung out near the front, but not too near.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 4, 2022] Thus Love

Out of the blue one day my daughter begged me to get her tickets to see a band I had never heard of.  They were called Crawlers from the UK.  They were touring the US for the first time and could she please please please go to a club called PhilaMOCA.

Now I happened to love PhilaMOCA.  When they needed fundraising I supported them and looked forward to them reopening their doors.  I hadn’t been back since they reopened, so I was pretty interested to see the place again.  But I was even more interested to check out this band and see what had my daughter so interested.

PhilaMOCA has a supersmall capacity so I grabbed tickets for us immediately assuming the show would sell out.

But when we arrived (the renovations look great, even if it means the capacity is even smaller now), there was hardly anyone there.  (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: May 11, 2023] Jenny Hval / Discovery Zone

Jenny Hval is a Norwegian singer who plays unconventional indie rock.

She’s the kind of singer who is hard to get into, but once you do, there are worlds of wonder to discover.  I haven’t gotten there yet, although I have enjoyed a lot of what I’ve listened to.

I feel that she is like Cate Le Bon for me.  Someone I really want to dive into and fully embrace, yet someone who fights me at every opportunity.

I didn’t really enjoy Le Bon’s live show, even though I thought I’d be blown away by it.   I have the same fear about a Jenny Hval show.  The big difference, though is that Le Bon was playing a much bigger venue and Hval is playing a tiny venue, where her subtleties will no doubt be appreciated more.  Perhaps next time, I shall have to make sure I go.

Discovery Zone is the moniker of musician and multi-media artist JJ Weihl. Raised in New York City and currently based in Berlin, Discovery Zone is the space in which Weihl creates pop music, video collage, powerpoint presentations and algorithmic art experiments. Her recordings and performances utilise a laboratory of instruments and 3D visuals to explore the universe as a source of information. Discovery Zone’s debut album was released on Mansions and Millions in 2020. In her upcoming work, Discovery Zone continues to inspect the juxtaposition between warm analog elements and cold digital sounds, conducting a conversation between the past and the future.

That sounds like a pretty cool double bill, but I was already going to see Built to Spill.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: April 28, 2022] Trupa Trupa / Haldol

April 28th turned out to be a banner night of shows.  There were four I was interested in seeing–three of those I was really interested in.  It was very hard to choose especially since one of them was a show rescheduled to that night and I already had tickets to a different one.

Trupa Trupa is a band from Poland who I found out about through NPR music.  Their music is dynamic and exciting and I understand they are amazing live.

By the time this show was announced I already had tickets for both Son Lux and Stick Men.  But I was so intrigued by this one that it quickly became my number two choice (sorry Stick Men).  I just wasn’t sure which one I was going to go to.  I honestly don’t know how often Trupa Trupa will be able to come to the U.S.  But I so very much wanted to see Son Lux, that they won out.

Haldol is a post punk band from Philly who I haven’t heard of.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: October 18, 2021] Frankie and the Witch Fingers / Acid Dad / Hooveriii

Over the quarantine, I have discovered the good fun of the Levitation online concert series and The Reverberation Appreciation Society.  I’ve enjoyed some great concerts from psychedelic garage bands.  So when it was announce with little fanfare that two bands I have really gotten to enjoy: Hooveriii and Acid Dad were going to be playing at PhilaMOCA with Frankie & the Witch Fingers (who i didn’t know), I was really excited at a chance for a night of psychedelic fun.  Then it turned out to be on the same night as the Torres show.

The Torres show that I bought tickets for in December of 2019!

It was a really hard choice to pick which show to go to.  Even though I had tickets for Torres already, they weren’t that expensive and I bought them almost three years ago!  I spend the week before this show trying to decide who I wanted to see.  I had seen Torres twice before (she’s amazing live).  I had never seen any of the other three.  Up until that morning I was still trying to decide.

Then as the morning struck, I decided that I would go to this show.  At work, I watched some live footage of Frankie and then i watched a recent live show from KEXP with Torres.  And after listening to the interview with Torres, she won out.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to see all three bands together again, but I’m sure that at least the two openers will be back around.

But Markit Aneight was there to record all three bands

Frankie and the Witch Fingers

Acid Dad


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SOUNDTRACK: GRUFF RHYS–American Interior (2013).

Gruff Rhys was (is?) the singer and composer in Super Furry Animals, a fantastic indie-pop band from Wales.   After several years with SFA and several solo albums, Gruff decided to do something a little different.  Actually, everything he does is a little different, as this quote from The Guardian explains:

“The touring musician can feel like the puppet of consumer forces,” he writes, bemoaning the way that “cities have now been renamed ‘markets’ and entire countries downgraded to ‘territories'”. So, over the last five or so years, he has come up with the idea of “investigative touring”: combining the standard one-show-a‑night ritual with creative fieldwork. In 2009, he went to Patagonia to trace the roots of a disgraced relative called Dafydd Jones, and the Welsh diaspora in South America more generally, and played a series of solo concerts, as well as making a film titled Separado!. Now, Rhys has reprised the same approach to tell another story, and poured the results into four creations: an album, another film, an ambitious app, and this book – all titled American Interior, and based on the brief life of John Evans: another far-flung relative of the singer, who left Wales to travel to North America in the early 1790s.

So yes, there’s a film and a book and this CD.  This album is a delightful blend of acoustic and electronic pop and folk.  Rhys’ voice is wonderfully subdued and with his Welsh accent coming in from time to time, it makes everything he sings somehow feel warm and safe (even when it’s not).   Rhys creates songs that sound like they came from the 1970s (but better), but he also explores all kinds of sonic textures–folk songs, rocking songs, dancing song, even songs in Welsh.

“American Exterior” is a 30 second intro with 8-bit sounds and the repeated “American Interior” until the piano and drum-based (from Kliph Scurlock) “American Interior” begins.  It’s a catchy song with the repeated (and harmonized) titular refrain after each line and it’s a great introduction to the vibe of the record.  It’s followed by the super catchy stomping “100 Unread Messages” which just rocks along with a great chorus.  You can see Gruff “composing” the lyrics to this in the book.

“The Whether (Or Not)” introduces some electronic elements to this song.  It’s basically a great pop song with splashes of keys and some cool stabs of acoustic guitar.  “The Last Conquistador” and “The Lost Tribes” are gentler synthy songs, as many of these are.  “Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be)” returns to the acoustic sound with some really beautiful piano.

“Allweddellau Allweddol” (English translation: Key Keyboards) is the only all-Welsh song on the record and it romps and stomps and is as much fun as that title suggests it would be.  There’s even a children’s choir singing on it (maybe?).

“The Swamp” is a simple electronics and drumming pattern which leaps right into “Iolo” one of the most fun songs on the record.  It’s a nod to the Welsh poet who inspired but backed out of Evans’ expedition at the last-minute but also a rollicking good time with the chanted “yoloyoloyoloyolo” and great tribal drums from Kliph.

The end of the album slows things down with “Walk Into the Wilderness” a slow aching ballad and the final two animal-related songs.  “Year of the Dog” is kind of a mellow opus when it is joined by the instrumental coda “Tiger’s Tale.”  Both songs feature goregous pedal steel guitar from Maggie Bjorklund.

Gruff Rhys is an amazing songwriter.  He could write the history of an obscure Welshman and still get great catchy songs out of it.  And that’s exactly what he’s done here.

[READ: December 2018] American Interior

How to explain this book?

I’ll start by saying that I loved it.  I was delighted by Rhys’ experiences and, by the end, I was genuinely disappointed to read that Evans’ trip didn’t pan out (even though I knew it didn’t).  The only compliant I have about the book is that I wish he had given a pronunciation guide for all of the welsh words in there, because I can’t even imagine how you say things like Ieuan Ab Ifan or Gwredog Uchaf or Dafydd Ddu Eryri (which is helpfully translated as Black David of Snowdonia, but not given a pronunciation guide).  But what about the contents?

The subtitle gives a pretty good explanation but barely covers the half of it.

Here’s a summary from The Guardian to whet one’s appetite for Rhys himself and for what he’s on about here:

[John] Evans was a farmhand and weaver from Waunfawr on the edge of Snowdonia, who was in pursuit of something fantastical: a supposed tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans said to live at the top of the Missouri river, who were reckoned to owe their existence to the mythical Prince Madog, a native of Gwynedd who folklore claimed had successfully sailed to the New World in 1170. In 1580, this story was hyped up by Elizabeth I’s court mathematician and occultist John Dee (born of Welsh parents), in an attempt to contest the Spanish claim to American territory. Two centuries later, with the opening of new frontiers, talk of a tribe called the Madogwys and “forts deemed to be of Welsh origin” began to swirl anew around Wales and North America, and became tangled up in the revolutionary fervour of the time, along with a radical Welsh spirit partly founded in nonconformist Christianity.

All this was moulded into a proposal made by a self-styled druid named Iolo Morganwg (“a genius”, but “also a fraud of the highest order”, says Rhys), who “called for the Americans, in the light of Madog’s legacy, to present the Welsh with their own tract of land in the new country of the free, so that the Welsh could leave their condemned royalist homeland”. Morganwg stayed put in Cowbridge, near Cardiff (the site of his “radical grocery” shop is now occupied by a branch of Costa Coffee), but Evans was inspired by his visions, and eventually set sail.

Rhys goes on a “journey of verification”, following Evans’s route from Baltimore, through such cities as Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, and then up the Missouri river to the ancestral home of the Mandan tribe of Native Americans, who had been rumoured to be the Welsh-speakers of myth, and among whom Evans lived, in territory argued over by the British and Spanish. Along the way, he does solo performances built around music and a PowerPoint-assisted talk about Evans’s story, keeps appointments with historians, and also tries to glimpse the America that Evans found through the cracks in a landscape of diners, what some people call “campgrounds”, and Native American reservations.

The Guardian’s review also talks about why the book works: (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 18, 2018] Speedy Ortiz

I really enjoyed Speedy Ortiz’ Foil Deer.  Sadie Dupuis has a great sense of melody (in a delightful alt-90s rock package) combined with excellent lyrics.  Check out this great blurb about Dupuis’ lyrics:

It’s very strange (“Or not strange at all! Hi!” says feminism) that most of the music we funnel into little girls’ ears——even music written by former little girls——is about how women are petty, pretty garbage whose only valuable function is to hold perfectly still in men’s boudoirs and wait for intercourse. “I wanted to make songs that were the opposite of ‘Genie in A Bottle’ or ‘The Boy Is Mine,’” Sadie Dupuis says of Slugger, her new solo album under the name Sad13. “Songs that put affirmative consent at the heart of the subject matter and emphasize friendship among women and try to deescalate the toxic jealousy and ownership that are often centered in romantic pop songs.” What!? Songs for women that actually champion women’s autonomy, reflect women’s desires, listen to women when they talk, and let women be funny and normal and cool, like women actually are?   – Lindy West

When Speedy Ortiz released their new album, they did a mini tour of…ice cram parlors.

As The Key noted:

It was a little suspicious, previously, that Speedy Ortiz’s only tour appearance in Philly would be at Little Baby’s Ice Cream in West Philly to scoop a new flavor, “Twerp Verse Dessert Burst Sundae,” and not to perform.

Then they announced a proper tour, which included a headlining spot at PhilaMOCA.  Amazingly, four days after our show, they were going to open for Dinosaur Jr and Foo Fighters at Fenway Park!  I don’t know how many people arrived early enough to see them, but I have to assume thy were seen by more than the 150 capacity crowd at PhilaMOCA.  And yet Sadie said she was more excited about our show than that one.  And it seemed like it.

Before the shows even began, Sadie was hanging out at the merch table.  We chatted, she sold me a copy of Twerp Verse and even signed it for me.  She was super nice.   (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 18, 2018] Two Inch Astronaut

I had heard Two Inch Astronaut on NPR and loved them.  I put them on my list of bands to check out.  So I was really excited that they were opening for Speedy Ortiz.  I got there early and wound up right in front of the stage where I was able to watch Sam Rosenberg play amazing and complicated riffs right in front of me.

Matt Gatwood was also great on drums–he hit really hard but in sophisticated rhythms that really worked with the jagged and noisy guitar that Rosenberg played.  On my right was Andy Chervenak on bass.  He was all over the fretboard, playing low and high notes to complement and contradict everything else that was going on.  It was a terrific package of music.

Until about four songs in when Rosenberg explained that this was their final tour.  They were breaking up after the next show.  It was an amicable breakup, “Nothing dramatic — still get along and love playing, but we’ve been doing some form of this band for almost ten (!?) years and it’s time to shake things up a bit,”

But still. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 18, 2018] Old Maybe

I had never heard of Old Maybe before this show, although I understand that they have been playing together for a while. (Their earliest demos are from 2014).

The band consists of Jazz Adam (guitar and vocals), Ricardo Balmaseda (bass and vocals) and Nina Ryser (drums).

The only person I knew in the band was Nina Ryser whom I had seen on this very stage when she played with Palberta a year or so ago.

But this band belongs to Jazz Adam on vocals and guitar.  She invited anyone of color or non-cis to the front of the audience before the show began.

I didn’t know much about her, so I have learned that

in 2015 Adam began playing solo shows, performing most songs a capella, creating vocal layers with looping and effects pedals.  Adam attributes her lack of stage fright to her background in theater and stand up comedy. “I am able to be myself onstage,” she says. “And I am aggressive.” [Quote from The Spark).

Adam has been pushing that belief in Philadelphia via All Mutable, a booking collective she started with Nicki Duval and Robin Meeker-Cummings. The mission of the collective is to “diversify lineups sonically and racially,” she says. “Our focus is to book lineups that represent and attract those who are under-represented in this music scene, including (but not limited to) POC, queer identified, trans identified, and those who identify as non-binary. We also hope to sonically diversify lineups, and represent genres that are not often recognized in this culturally homogenized city.”


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