[DID NOT ATTEND: March 4, 2023] Zephyr: A Whirlwind of Circus

I didn’t realize that this cirque was put on by Cirque Mechanics, a group we have seen before.  (I had been calling it Cirque Zephyr).

It has bee a while since we’ve seen a Cirque, and this one looked a lot of fun (and it was so close).  The date was the same day as my mother-in-law’s birthday.  Initially I thought it might be fun to get tickets to this as a fun birthday activity.  But I soon discovered that the family was planning something much bigger.  So I didn’t bother to get tickets.

Here’s the description.  And I hope RVCC gets another Cirque performance soon.

Mechanical wonders, circus gadgetry, and astonishing acrobatics are all part of Cirque Mechanics’ new show Zephyr: A Whirlwind of Circus, inspired by the power of the wind and the human ingenuity that goes into harnessing it. Centered around a giant windmill mounted on a turntable, performers fly, balance, float on air, and defy gravity in an exhilarating whirlwind circus. Fall under the spell of turning gears and whooshing sails in this tale about the unrelenting tug-of-war between man and nature. Experience the artistry and thrill of acrobatic bicycles, foot juggling, hair hanging, and the mysterious wheel of destiny in this all ages show that’ll blow you away.

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[ATTENDED: March 3, 2023] The Beths

I saw The Beths about a year ago at Underground Arts.  Since then they have now moved up from the 650 person venue to Union Transfer (1500) which they also sold out!  Great new for them!

The Beths are actually suddenly everywhere and had we played our cards right we could have seen them like four times this year (opening for The National and a couple of other places).  But this wound up being the only show we’ll see them at.  And that’s fine because it was great and certainly tides us over for a while.

The Beths are a four piece: Elizabeth Stokes, singer and guitarist.  Jonathan Pearce who plays lead guitar. Benjamin Sinclair on bass and Tristan Deck on drums.  When introducing each other, they told “fex” about each other.  The New Zealand accent is awesome–fex would be Facts.  Like the fact that Benjamin Sinclair has a blog and Instagram account with the awesome name of Breakfast and Travel Updates.  Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: March 3, 2023] Sidney Gish

As soon as The Beths announced they were playing Union Transfer, I bought myself a ticket.  And then a little while later I bought S. one because I thought she would really enjoy a night out for rocking good natured fun.

I didn’t know the opening bands.  There were originally two: Hans Pucket dropped out of the tour.  The Beths posted the rather cryptic

Sad news is that @hanspucket unfortunately won’t be joining us this time, we’re gutted about that. But we promise to drag them over another time. So it’ll just be us and the genius Sidney Gish.

I’ve been listening to the Hans Pucket album and it’s really good.  Hope they make it over here some time.

Sidney Gish is a singer I’d never heard of, although clearly everyone else in the room had.

She has released two albums (the second one in 2017) and now is about to release a third.  What’s she been doing for the last few years?  Graduating from Northeastern apparently.

Anyway, it seems that her first two albums were viral sensations (especially her second album No Dogs Allowed).  Because everyone was singing along to all of the songs (except the new one). Continue Reading »

[DID NOT ATTEND: November 17, 2021] Meet Me @ the Altar / Young Culture / Daisy Grenade

I used to listen to the NPR All Songs Considered podcast religiously.  It was where I heard all about new bands and new releases.  And then sometime at the end of last year I was just done with it.  I think a lot of it is because I really liked the dynamic between Bob and Robin and how they tried to outdo each other with better music.  Plus, they had a very similar taste to mine.

During the pandemic, the two split up and created new shows.  And now Robin is with the youth and they talk almost exclusively about bands I don’t care about–a lot more R&B and rap.  And Bob has drifted a little more into his own thing, which is a little more delicate.  So while I’m sure they still talk about music I like, I just got tired of hearing about stuff I didn’t like.

One of the last new bands they introduced me to was Meet Me @ The Altar.  I wasn’t planning on getting their music, but I thought they’d be fun to see live–youthful energetic modern punk is a lot of fun to see live.  So when they announced their show I snatched up a ticket pretty quickly.  I didn’t realize that it was the same night as The Beths.  Obviously, there was no contest–I was going to see The Beths.  But i didn’t sell my ticket just in case The Beths had to postpone or something.  But they didn’t and now I won’t ever being seeing any of these three bands. Continue Reading »

[READ: January 20, 2023] Sweet Desserts

I absolutely loved Ellmann’s Ducks, Newburyport.  It was unlike anything else I had read up to that point.  I also assumed it was her first book because I hadn’t heard of her before and there wasn’t really any talk of her previous books.

But it turns out that she had written many books before Ducks–and they all seem to be very different in style from Ducks.

This novel, her debut, is so radically different as to be almost from a different author.

This is, as I understand it, a semi-autobiographical story.  Well, the entire bio we get from her on the back of the book is “born in Illinois and moved to England, somewhat unwillingly, at the age of thirteen.”  In the novel, the main character is Suzy Schwarz, an American girl who is moved to England when her mother dies.

The book is short (150 pages) and each chapter is roughly three or four pages.   It opens with Suzy as yet unborn and her older sister Franny as the center of attention.  Suzy was sickly when she was born and Franny rather doted on her–although Franny was always clearly the one in charge.

Every chapter has excerpts from other things quoted in it–often without context.   One chapter about the young girls has a recipe for for cooking eels.

The story jumps back and forth between England and America.  In England, when the women are older, they have sex a lot (Ellmann does not hold back on the explicitness, she loves sex and wants women to have lots of orgasms).

There is a lot about food in the book because Fran develops a weight problem (Ellmann talks a lot about women with weight problems).  Later Suzy buys Colossus magazine (a porn about large women) and admires the personal ads: Huge Sue (84-70-73) Where did she fine Size 73 knickers?. Continue Reading »

[DID NOT ATTEND: March 1, 2023] Thick / Jigsaw Youth / Puppy Angst

I’ve been a fan of New York band Thick for a few years (since I head about them on NPR).  I’ve been wanting to see them live for a while.  I had a chance in 2021, but that show was scheduled against something else I wanted to do.

So, here they were coming to Milkboy.  I had been to Milkboy once before–although apparently not the main Milkboy venue I just learned.  I know Milkboy is a pretty small place, so I figured this would be a great way to see this riveting band.

And then, I got really sick yesterday.  I’m assuming it was the norovirus.  And, wow, although I was feeling better by show timem there was no way I felt like doing anything.  So I had to miss Thick yet again.  I hope they come back again or maybe play NJ?

Jigsaw Youth is a punk band from Staten Island.  I listened to a few songs and liked some.  I preferred their newer stuff to their older songs.  I’m sure they would have kicked ass.

Puppy Angst is from Philly and was created by Alyssa Milman (they/them) who I saw play bass with Kississippi (and thought they were great).  Puppy Angst is a moody indie dream pop quartet that Milman formed alongside Eric Naroden (drums), Dan Leinweber (guitar, vocals), and John Heywood (bass).  [These would be the only men in the show, too].

Now that I realize who Puppy Angst is, I’m even more bummed that I couldn’t make this show.


[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: February 24, 2023] Otoboke Beaver 

I saw Otoboke Beaver back in October and since they decided to swing through Philly again, I immediately grabbed a ticket.  The show sold out a few days before it happened (good for them).  And this venue is twice the size of Johnny Brenda’s (from 300 to 650 capacity) so even better for them.

There were several rules up on the wall before the show.  Basically they didn’t want people on stage (understandable) and they didn’t want people taking their setlist (this one I still don’t get) and no posting videos to YouTube (although Instagram is okay–I don’t quite get that either but whatever).  This also meant t hat there was a barrier up between the band and the stage (unusual for Underground Arts).  Sadly this meant that guitarist Yoyoyoshie would not be crowd surfing.  Of course, I didn’t arrive early enough to get that close anyhow.

Nevertheless, I had a pretty good spot up front, but as soon as they started playing, the mosh pit started and I got pushed off to the side a bit.  And by the end of the show I was all the way off to the side in a not especially great place.  That kind of sucked because they are so much fun to watch that I was bummed I couldn’t see them from the front.  But it was neat being near bassist Hiro-Chan who plays barefoot!

They sing (almost) exclusively in Japanese so I can’t really tell which song is which.  And most of their songs are short and fast so who knows what they played (again, not seeing a setlist), but it doesn’t matter because their whole set is about fun-wild fun.

One thing that really impressed me was that before one of the songs, singer Accorinrin stood with her arm raised and the whole band waited for her to begin.  The crowd, not taking the hint, whooped it up, but she was clearly waiting for silence (I understand Japanese audiences are very quiet between songs).  She stood and waited (like a teacher), until eventually she lowered her arms in a quiet gesture and everyone was quiet.  Their songs are very tight and need to be coordinated well.  As soon as their was silence, she was able to start and everyone was in synch.  Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: February 24, 2023] Gladie

Otoboke Beaver had a different local band open for each of their shows on this tour.  After the show I spoke to Gladie and they were really psyched to have been chosen to open.

This was actually the fourth time I was supposed to see Gladie.  Most of the shows they were opening for someone and the show as postponed due to COIVD. So I was glad this one actually came through.

They don’t quite fit musically, but they were an excellent warm up.  Gladie are a Philly-based band that was created out of the ashes of other Philly-based band.  Singer Augusta Koch was the singer of beloved band Cayetana, who I only really found out about as they were breaking up (and who actually only put out two albums!).

The band also has Matt Schimelfenig and some other people who may or may not have been on stage that night.

Augusta Koch is clearly in charge of things.  She is a fun frontwoman and made some funny comments about the show.  She was saying how much she loves Underground Arts and how much it reminds her of the club in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (that’s pretty accurate). Continue Reading »

[ATTENDED: February 22, 2023] Gilla Band

When Irish quartet Gilla Band first became a band back in 2011 or so, they were called Girl Band.  I first heard about them in 2015, when the single “Why They Hide the Bodies Under My Garage” came out.  It was noisy and abrasive and painful and wonderful.

I lost track of them for a bit (WIkipedia says they had a hiatus for health issues).  Then in 2021 they announced they were changing the name of the band because it was a “misgendered name” and that their former name could have been “propagating a culture of non-inclusivity.”  Which is pretty cool.  They changed it to Gilla Band (keeping the G and the Band).

The quartet has remained the same since the beginning: vocalist Dara Kiely, guitarist Alan Duggan, bassist Daniel Fox and drummer Adam Faulkner.  This is probably a good thing because I don’t see how anyone could reproduce what these guys do.

They opened with a bunch of older songs.  First up was “Lawman” which has scraping guitars and a mechanical sliding bass. as Dara sing/speaks (in a manner not unlike Mark E. Smith) as the song slams forward.   The end of the song features some high pitched noises that I don’t now how guitarist Alan Duggan even thought to make.   That song pushed six minutes and they followed it with the 90 second blast of noise called “Heckle the Frames.”  I loved the guitar that was just a high pitched note sliding up the neck.  (Is it about making fun of Glen Hansard’s band?)

“Pears for Lunch” was largely quiet (relatively) until about half way in when the guitars turned into a wall of noise.  “Fucking Butter” was amazing because bassist Daniel Fox was playing these really nigh notes that didn’t sound like a bass at all. The guitar was just a buzzsaw of scraping playing along with the drums.  Somehow the guitar made a increasingly higher and higher sound that seemed to keep going up and up long after he reached the highest point of his strings. Continue Reading »