Archive for the ‘Underground Arts’ Category

[ATTENDED: April 22, 2022] Just Mustard

Just Mustard are a five piece band from Dundalk, Ireland.  They make a fantastic noisy mess of shoegaze combined with a wall of noise and singer Katie’s droney but at times piercing vocals.

The blew away Underground Arts when they opened for Fontaines D.C.

They have a new album coming out soon and they played a bunch of songs from it.  Lead singer Katie Ball was wearing a cheerleader-type outfit with her name in letters across he front.  This was about the only whimsical thing in their entire set.

The band exuded seriousness and they were exceptional musicians.  Drummer Shane Maguire played some amazing and unexpected fills and when he hit the snare hard (which wasn’t always) it cracked to attention.  I was in front of guitarist David Noonan who played a lot of rhythmic sounds (not so much rhythm guitar as rhythmic sounds–his playing was very percussive.


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[CANCELLED: March 24, 2022] Fu Manchu / Speedealer [rescheduled from May 9, 2020 and March 18, 2021]

indexThis show had been rescheduled for March of 2022 after two previous cancellations.  But with the rise of more COVID cases Fu Manchu decided to cancel once more.  It strikes me that they seem quite content to just cancel a show and then work with the venues for a future show, so I’ll assume they’ll be back to Philly eventually.


This concert was never formally cancelled it seems (as of last week you could still get tickets for it).  But Fu Manchu officially cancelled all of their shows on the tour.  No word yet if they’ll be back, but I hope so.

Fu Manchu is one of the great stoner rock bands.  They have been around for thirty years with a similar fuzzy, grungey sound.  I missed them the first time around but because more keenly aware of them when their 2018 album Clone of the Universe featured not only an 18 minute song, but also a guitar solo from Alex Lifeson of Rush.

Their early stuff is really catchy and I wish I had known about them for longer.  They seem like they’d be a really fun live band.

Speedealer was originally called REO Speedealer, which I love.  They were told to cease and desist from REO Speedwagon (imagine that).  They play a kind of aggressive garage metal.  They have a punk edge and the lead singer has a growly punk voice that is clear enough amid the roughage.

I feel like they don’t quite pair with Fu Manchu (they seem a bit too aggressive) and would pair better with Monster Magnet.

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[ATTENDED: March 12, 2022] Wet Leg

Wet Leg became a huge sensation on the basis of one song.

“Chaise Longue” was suddenly everywhere.  And it’s a weird, catchy, funny song with lots of talking a lot of repetition.  It hit all of my buttons and I was immediately a fan.

But it was so strange that the band had just this one song out–nothing else online or anywhere.  NPR Music introduced me to the song in July 2021.  They had a second single “Wet Dream” out in September.  And that was that–two songs and an album promised in 2022.

And they announced a tour of the States in November.  Somehow I missed the announcement because I would have totally gotten tickets at PhilMOCA.  And it sold out pretty quickly.  Then at some point it was announced that it was moved to Underground Arts and more tickets were available.  I grabbed one immediately and it soon sold out at UA as well.

I thought the show would be fun, but I also thought that the band was a kind of left-field, one hit wonder who it would be fun to see because they’d probably never come back.  Heck, they seemed like they might just make the one album and be done.

So my expectations weren’t super high, but I assumed I’d have a good time. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 12, 2022] Lowertown

I had a great plan for this evening  I would drive into Philly early–this show was at 6:30!  I’d stop in at Federal Donuts for treats for the family.

Then I would park near Underground Arts on the street.  I would see Lowertown and Wet Leg, then I would hop in my car and drive to Union Transfer–just a few blocks away, and see Daughter of Swords and The Tallest Man on Earth–a double header!

And then it snowed.

I wasn’t even sure if I could make it.  But it stopped snowing with enough time for me to get to the venue and do my plan without the donuts.  But when I got to Underground Arts, it was packed.  There was a huge line out the door and nowhere to park! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 24, 2022] The Beths

The Beths are from New Zealand.

I really enjoyed hearing them talk between songs–super cool accents.

They only have two albums out but they have a pretty rabid fan base–if the guys who sang along loudly to everything were anything to go by.

The Beths were originally supposed to play King Fu Necktie in April 2020.  The show was moved to World Cafe Live, but was ultimately cancelled because of COVID.  They scheduled a new date at Underground Arts for January, but that got pushed back a month as COVID cases rose again.

And then, finally, they were here! (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 24, 2022] Lunar Vacation

The Beths were supposed to play shows in 2020 at World Cafe Live.  First in April, then in August.  Then that was all scrapped and then rescheduled for January 2022.  That was then pushed back until February.

Weakened Friends were slotted to open for them over these shows.  But the new show had Lunar Vacation signed up for them.

And they were delightful.

They are from Atlanta, and I had to laugh when singer Grace Repasky asked if anyone did the Wordle yet.  When we acknowledged that we had, she commented that it was a very British word (Bloke). (more…)

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[POSTPONED: January 23, 2021] Fucked Up / Empath [moved to July 17, 2022]

indexI’ve known Fucked Up for a few years and thought that they’d be a wild band to see.  They last played in Philly in 2018, and they’ve only gotten better since then.

Shows had been getting postponed, but this one was pretty hushed until only a few days ago when it was officially postponed.

I’m okay with it getting moved to July–I much prefer going out to shows in the warm weather than the frigid cold of January anyway.

Empath are a Philly band that play a kind of noise punk.  Rolling Stone says “They sound like four people who sat in a room flexing their own freaky styles until — before they realized their interests might be wholly incompatible — the chaos created its own logic.”  They sound pretty great. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: December 16, 2021] The Joy Formidable / Cuffed Up

indexThings were looking up, shows were back, we had a vaccine.  And then shitty people refused to get the vaccine and it mutated and now we’re back where we were a year ago with shows getting postponed.

I was really looking forward to this show.  It would have been a great show to end the year on (I would have gone to this one if they had been in town).

The Joy Formidable are from Wales.  The trio Ritzy Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd and Matt Thomas play diverse sounds, but tend towards guitar based rock in various formats).  They even sing in Welsh sometimes.  Their newest album into the blue brings back some of the noisier sounds that the band used on early albums and explored their way away from for a time.

Cuffed Up is an L.A. based band who is getting a lot of buzz.  They play rocking songs with a great dual vocal set up between Sapphire Jewell and Ralph Torrefranca.  I was glad to have heard of them when this tour was announced and I look forward to experiencing them live.

I’m really looking forward to when this is rescheduled.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 12, 2021] Bully / Graham Hunt Band / Slomo Sapiens

Look at this, yet another great show at Underground Arts that I didn’t go to. That place has really got my number–we just need to get our calendars to synch up better.

Bully is basically Alicia Bognanno and whoever she chooses to play with.  She writes great songs and has a unique and cool voice.  I really enjoyed Bully’s first album, Feels Like, but when it was announced that she was touring a new album (and playing Philly with Spirit of the Beehive AND Control Top!) well, I checked that album out right away. And it is very good.

I was pleased when it was announced that she’d be playing Underground Arts instead.  World Cafe Live is a better venue, but UA is much easier for me to get to.  Sadly the opening bands were not the same, but that’s okay.

And then…. Baroness announced they would be playing three nights at Kung Fu Necktie.  I couldn’t make the Saturday one (holiday party), so my only choice was Sunday.  Later they added another date for Monday, but I had already purchased my ticket and it seemed like way too much of a hassle to try to change it.  So Bully had to miss me.  Drat.  Come back again Alicia!

I’d never heard of Graham Hunt although apparently he is been in a lot of bands.  According to this write up

Hunt’s solo work continues to be an oddball amalgam of the best traits of his other projects: Midwives’ exacting focus, Reruns’ strong songwriting structures, and Sundial Mottos’ winsome, relaxed aesthetic all are apparent throughout the excellent new solo album Painting Over Mold. Even the distinct imprints of Dusk and Mike Krol, both acts Hunt has appeared with as a touring member, find cohesion across the record.

Slomo Sapiens continues the tradition of great band names from Philadelphia.  I didn’t know much about them, but they are described as a psychedelic “sludge rock” trio, which sounds pretty good to me.  Their newest album is called Cabin Fever Dreams.

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 3, 2021] Cave In / Cleric

Back in 1998 I really like the Cave In album Until Your Heart Stops.  Then I pretty much forgot about them.

They came back on my radar when one of the band members died in a car accident a few years ago.  He sang lead (but was not the only lead vocalist) and I assumed that was the end of the band.

But they did not break up.  Indeed, they have a new album coming out next year.

I wasn’t planning on going to this show without looking into what they’ve done this century, and I never got around to that, so I didn’t go.

I didn’t know who Cleric was.  Their Wikipedia write up is interesting, but this could go in a direction I don’t like

Cleric is an American avant-garde metal band based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The band is known for their experimental approach to grindcore, doom and avant-garde metal

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