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INCOMING: The Foo Fightins

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Despite being strongly urged by his doctors to cancel The Foo Fighters’ impending four-month/40-date US tour and let his broken leg heel, Dave Grohl is going to bravely soldier on like the bold rock warrior that he is. Which means The Foo Fighters will be at The Susquehanna Bank Center on July 6th and then again on the 13th. We’ll be sending our intrepid cub reporter Dylan Long to cover it. Here’s a video of Dylan getting a stage-side handshake from Dave Grohl at the Wells Fargo Center back in 2011 — when Dylan was all of 14. On July 6th, the circle will be complete.

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COMMENTARY: Ann Coulter She-Wolf Of The SS

Monday, June 29th, 2015

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Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY Recently I’ve been adding a “comment” or two to some of Ann Coulter’s bigoted articles (does she write any other kind?). I admit to it being a rather nonsensical exercise in as much as nearly all of the “replies” I get are insultingly lame retorts from one or more of her cretinous sycophants all of whom exhibit significantly less cranial content than Coulter’s, which, in and of itself, can hardly be considered of rocket scientist dimensions. But I digress.

It’s interesting to note how with all accomplished bigots — Coulter, Limbaugh and Hannity are classic examples of the genre, as are Savage and (was) Breitbart — their utterances always include: 1) a tinge of “truth” for effect, invented or contrived if need be, and always exaggerated, 2) the impression of “justified” anger (at least they’d like you to think so), and 3) the implication of deliberate intent to harm on the part of the target of the anger. All three are straw dogs, of course, but absolutely indispensable to any professional hate monger.

So, why do so many Americans fall for it? Because they’ve been programmed to believe that way since childhood (for many it no doubt started with scary coulteranti-liberal bedtime stories) unless, of course, they happen to be of the Bryan Fischer species, all of whom apparently received their hatred as a gift from God. Like nearly all of her ilk, Coulter’s furnace (and those of her followers) is fueled by an all-consuming fear and loathing of anyone and anything perceived to represent a threat to their “entitled” lifestyle — which in Ann’s case happens to include a home in Palm Beach, a condominium in Manhattan, an apartment in Los Angeles, and a comfortable net worth of some $8.5 million. Just as the Nazis selected a visible scapegoat for all of Germany’s problems, today’s bigots use anything at variance from their idea of acceptable norms as the cause of all of America’s problems. It can be one’s color, ethnicity, religion (oh, boy, can it!), social/economic status, sexual orientation (including simply being a woman) or political affiliation. It can be one’s style of hair or dress, skin decor, taste in music, or simply one’s accent. For certain, if you can’t be readily identified as WASPish (as far as the “P” is concerned, it should be noted that Coulter won’t admit to membership in a particular denomination but vehemently claims adherence to “Christian” ideals and principles in literally everything she says and does, but coyly refuses to let us in on how and why God allows her to get away with such a whopper) you are automatically assumed to be dangerous, alarming, devious and/or deceitful!

Here’s a sampling from the Coulter repertoire of hostility: On the Affordable Care Act, “My friend’s sister died from Obamacare.” Well, not exactly. On gay rights, we pretty much know where Ann stands, and maybe wealth and position can, in fact, heal all wounds. On immigration reform, you needn’t go any further than the title of her latest book, “Adios, America! The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country into a Third World Hellhole.” On minorities, “Since when have black people been able to speak foreign languages?” On the opposite sex, “If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president.” On “charity” and race, “Why are medical missionaries working in the disease-ridden cesspools of Africa?” On being poor, “It’s a cruel and Selfish thing…for the upper classes…to refuse to tell poor people ‘keep your knees together before you’re married – that would solve so many of life’s problems.’” On 9/11 widows, “These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities.” On being a liberal, “Liberals are ‘going gay’ so they need immigrants to outbreed ‘Christian America.'” On domestic terrorism, “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building.” On a woman’s right to choose, “I don’t really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester. I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don’t want to impose my moral values on others.”
(more…)

Win Tix To See Brian Wilson @ The Mann

Friday, June 26th, 2015

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Love & Mercy tells the harrowing, heartbreaking story of the life of Brian Wilson — Beach Boys auteur and resident genius — which goes like this: Angel-headed boy from Hawthorne, California, at the dawn of the 1960s, smitten by the harmonic convergence of The Four Freshman and the shimmering Spectorian grandeur of “Be My Baby,” forms band with his two brothers and asshole cousin, calls it The Beach Boys, writes uber-catchy ditties of Zen-like simplicity about surfing, hot rods and girls (despite being slapped deaf in his right ear by his sadistic tyrant of a father), boy becomes international pop star, boy has nervous breakdown and retires from touring and retreats to the studio where he gets into a pissing match with the Beatles and the race is on to get to the next level first, boy takes LSD, boy blows mind, boy sees God, boy starts hearing strange and beautiful music in his head, boy plays the studio like an instrument, sings choirs of angels, creates music of overarching majesty, astonishing beauty and profound sadness, boy makes greatest pop album of all time (Pet Sounds) and the greatest song of the 20th Century (“Good Vibrations”), boy starts hearing terrifying voices in his head, beset by demons from within and without (his sadistic tyrant of a father, his asshole cousin) boy loses mind and, eventually, the confidence of his band mates who pull the plug on his game-changing “teenage symphony to God” originally called Dumb Angel, but later re-titled Smile, boy retreats into a years-long bedroom hermitage of Herculean drug consumption, morbid obesity and sweet insanity, columnated ruins domino, family hires Mephistophelian psychiatrist/psychic vampire Dr. Eugene Landy (played with satanic aplomb by Paul Giamatti), who switches out boy’s steady diet of cocaine, LSD, sloth and self-pity for a zombie-fying regimen of prescription narcotics, fitness Nazism, and 24-7 mind control, boy meets girl (Melinda Ledbetter, his soon-to-be second wife, played by a big-haired, puffy-shouldered Elizabeth Banks) at a Cadillac dealership and falls in love, girl rescues boy from the clutches of evil doctor, boy lives happily ever after, or a reasonably close approximation thereof.

Pretty simple, really.

Granted it’s not a story that lends itself to the linear-flow cradle-to-grave biopic treatment, which is no doubt why Love & Mercy director Bill Pohlad (executive producer of Brokeback Mountain, 12 Years A Slave and Tree Of Life) and screenwriter Oren Moverman (I’m Not There, Jesus’ Son) elected to craft a bi-polar narrative that switches back and forth from the middle-aged Brian (played with aptly vacant affect by John Cusack, who eschews impersonation for for understated evocation) and young genius Brian (played with doughy intensity and uncanny resemblance by Paul Dano, who does not so much impersonate young Brian Wilson as inhabit him), in a race to the middle where they collide in the time-space-continuum of Brian’s bedroom in a mind-bending montage that is both loving homage and direct quote of the mysterious metaphysical endgame of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The ancient, iconic moments of Wilsonian mythos — the barefoot, white Chinos- &-blue-Pendelton shirt-wearing, surfboard-toting photo shoot idylls; the terrifying nervous breakdown at 20,000 feet; the acid-fueled, poolside transfiguration; the Wrecking Crew’s adoration of his otherworldly compositional prowess; the drug den wigwam in the living room and the piano in the sandbox; the fireman-hatted Smile session meltdown; the prison of belief in Landy’s methods (less a therapist than a sinister puppeteer) — are recreated in arresting, picture-perfect period detail. The cinematography nails the shifting tone and color and tint of the times and the score and sound design is suitably mind-altering. Pedestrians may quibble, but that will fall away in time.  Love & Mercy is a grand and lasting monument to the noble beauty wrung from one man’s epic suffering. It is the story of Icarus on the beach, of the boy who got too high — flew too near the sun on wings of wax — and the man who fell to Earth.

Love & Mercy will be in local theaters for just one more week. Brian Wilson will only be in town for one night — Monday night at the Mann, to be exact, along with Rodriguez of Searching For Sugarman fame. We have a coupla pairs of tickets to give away to some lucky Phawker readers that are able to answer this mildly difficult Beach Boys trivia question: What are the names of the lyricists Brian Wilson worked with on Pet Sounds and Smile? To qualify to win, send an email to FEED@PHAWKER.COM with the magic word SMILE in the subject line, along with your answer, your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!


BRIAN WILSON & SPECIAL GUEST RODRIGUEZ PLAY THE MANN ON JUNE 29TH

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SIDEWALKING: Skeletal Lamping

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Roof Skeletons by Adam Walacavage

Rooftop, high above South Broad, after the storm, by Adam Wallacavage

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ALL YOU NEED IS PAUL: 10 Thoughts About McCartney @ The Wells Fargo Center On Sunday

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

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Photo by DAN LONG

1. At some point in the last decade Paul McCartney assembled a team of pop imagineers and big-picture media strategists to re-brand his act from ‘The Cute One drum majoring a Boomer-ific oldies parade of warmed-over shimmy-shimmy shake moptoppery’ to ‘Sir Paul, doe-eyed Elder Statesman of Pop with one of the greatest songbooks in the history of recorded music, who is also an Important Artist who continues to make challenging and inventive work that is still relevant to The Kids,’ which is to say everyone under the age of 72. So, in addition to re-animating the Lennon/McCartney songbook, he jams econo with Nirvana and scores first person shooter soundtracks. Judging by his sold out performance at the Wells Fargo Center, I’d say mission accomplished.20150621-DSC_3792

2. The show is grand spectacle on every level. For an hour prior to the commencement of Macca’s set, DJ Chris Holmes spun a mesmerizing turntablist tapestry of shimmering Beatles re-mixes and mash-ups interpolated with chop-shopped Beatles covers — from the likes of Chubby Checker, Nancy Sinatra, the Langley Schools Music Project and, most notably, Esther Phillips’ Billie Holiday-meets-Mantovani rendering of “And I Love Her” — while an artfully photoshopped dual montage of Macca imagery scrolled down the two giant iPhone-shaped video monitors that bookend the massive stage, seamlessly morphing motion pictures into stills that span the pre-dawn of the Silver Beatles to the end of Wings and beyond. Those three story high iPhone-shaped monitors deliver an endless feed of smartphone-friendly, selfie-ready Sir Paul imagery tailor-made for instantaneous Twitter/Facebook/Instagram social mediation. Quite brilliant, really.

3. Paul still puts asses in seats — a lot of asses — which is not only crucial to the perpetuation of brand Macca but more importantly the survival of the concert industry itself. The dirty little secret of the concert biz is that it’s always been, and is now more than ever, all about gathering a moneyed mass of humanity under the roof of an industrial-scale revenue-harvesting machine disguised as a performance venue and charging them confiscatory prices for hot dogs and beer and branded baubles. I played along Sunday night, consuming conspicuously with a $10 cup of Stella Artois and a $5 club soda for my sober concert-going companion before being unwittingly upsold to the $15 tub of beer the second 20150621-DSC_3826time around. For a mere $30 I purchased a grand total of two beers and a club soda. This in a country where wages have not risen, not-coincidentally, since Ronald Reagan was elected in 1980. This is how peasant uprisings get started.

4. More importantly, Paul’s still got it. Thanks to clean living and a decades long vegan diet, not to mention the contracted services of a cosmetological engineer adept at the art of masking his mule grey locks in chestnut mare brown, Paul looks fit, trim and decades younger than his 73 years on this earth. Either that, or in some attic in Liverpool there is a painting of an aging Paul McCartney dessicating into decrepitude. And while the top end of Macca’s range has been somewhat diminished by the inevitable ravages of age, use and a half-century of (until very recently) unrepentant dope-smoking, Paul can still shred on “Helter Skelter” and “Live And Let Die” and break your heart with “The Long And Winding Road” and “Hey Jude.” I’m not ashamed to say that a single tear rolled down my cheek during “Hey Jude.” You can’t fake that shit.

5. The only stumble of the evening was the inexplicable raising of “Temporary Secretary” from the gratefully dead, aka 1980’s McCartney II, which best I can tell was Macca’s ill-conceived attempt to get his Devo on and get his New Wave bonafides stamped. This song should be forcibly asphyxiated in a shallow bath and replaced with “Jet” or “Coming Up” or even “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” Immediately.

6. Hands down the bestest/funnest/freshest song of the night was the bouncy singalong of “All Together Now” from Yellow Submarine which prompted me to posit 20150621-DSC_3755out loud that ‘By Jove, Paul should do a children’s album!’ only to be corrected by my $5 club soda & lime-tippling concert-going companion who astutely pointed out that all his songs are children’s songs.

7.
While Macca and his crack backing band were zooming through the mighty “Band On The Run” a film of the faux-prison break cover shoot for that album unspooled behind them, revealing cameos from not only the preternaturally cool James Coburn (which I remembered) but also the recently dearly-departed Christopher Lee (which I’d forgotten). And then the undertaker drew a mighty sigh seeing no one else had come and a bell was ringing in the village square for the rabbits on the run.

8. Paul ended Sunday night’s epic, 39-song,  two and a half hour rock n’ roll fantasy camp for Beatlemaniacs by playing the second half of the second side of Abbey Road: “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and, fittingly, “The End.”

9. All you need is Paul. Paul is all you need.

10.
The fact that I sorta-kinda know his ‘people’ and they were on site Sunday night triggered a brief glimmer of hope that I might be invited to a post-show meet & greet/photo-op with Sir Paul. Didn’t happen, sad to say. Hoping to of have my own Chris Farley Moment, I had come to the show equipped with a two-page (one for Paul to hold and one for me) sharpie-scrawled sign  that read:

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Text by Jonathan Valania

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FLAG OF OUR FATHERS: Let It Burn

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

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NPR: In December 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union just months after Abraham Lincoln, from the anti-slavery Republican Party, was elected president. In April 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C. Ten other states would eventually follow South Carolina in secession, forming the Confederate States of America. However, of the three flags the Confederacy would go on to adopt, none are the Confederate flag that is traditionally recognized today. The “Stars and Bars” flag, currently the subject of controversy, was actually the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. After the war ended, the symbol became a source of Southern pride and heritage, as well as a remembrance of Confederate soldiers who died in battle. But as racism and segregation gripped the nation in the century following, it became a divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups. It was also the symbol of the States’ Rights Democratic Party, or “Dixiecrats,” that formed in 1948 to oppose civil-rights platforms of the Democratic Party. MORE

THE ATLANTIC: Dylann Roof walked into a Charleston church, sat for an hour, and then killed nine people. Roof’s crime cannot be divorced from the ideology of white COnfederateFlagSkullsupremacy which long animated his state nor from its potent symbol—the Confederate flag. Visitors to Charleston have long been treated to South Carolina’s attempt to clean its history and depict its secession as something other than a war to guarantee the enslavement of the majority of its residents. This notion is belied by any serious interrogation of the Civil War and the primary documents of its instigators. Yet the Confederate battle flag—the flag of Dylann Roof—still flies on the Capitol grounds in Columbia.

The Confederate flag’s defenders often claim it represents “heritage not hate.” I agree—the heritage of White Supremacy was not so much birthed by hate as by the impulse toward plunder. Dylann Roof plundered nine different bodies last night, plundered nine different families of an original member, plundered nine different communities of a singular member. An entire people are poorer for his action. The flag that Roof embraced, which many South Carolinians embrace, does not stand in opposition to this act—it endorses it. That the Confederate flag is the symbol of of white supremacists is evidenced by the very words of those who birthed it:

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth…

This moral truth—“that the negro is not equal to the white man”—is exactly what animated Dylann Roof. More than any individual actor, in recent history, Roof honored his flag in exactly COnfederateFlagSkullthe manner it always demanded—with human sacrifice. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Those who have defended keeping the Confederate flag flying at the Capitol have often described it as merely a commemoration to the Civil War dead. But as the writer K. Michael Prince documents in “Rally ’Round the Flag, Boys!,” flags were not used in this way at the Confederate memorial on the Capitol grounds in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. Only in later decades was the flag introduced — and steadily elevated in importance — to bolster the idea of white supremacy at moments when South Carolina’s Jim Crow-era government came under federal pressure to allow black citizens even nominal civil rights. Hence, the Confederate battle flag was displayed in the South Carolina State House in 1938, after angry Southerners in Congress managed to defeat a bill that would have made lynching a federal crime. They saw that law as an intrusion on what was often called “the Southern way of life.” The flag was brought into the State Senate two years after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. The flag was quietly moved up to a position of pride on the dome on the Capitol in 1962, after President John F. Kennedy called on Congress to end poll taxes and literacy tests for voting and the Supreme Court struck down segregation in public transportation. By this time, of course, the flag had been closely associated with racial tyranny. MORE

CNN: Now that the so-called Stars and Bars is linked to last week’s church massacre in Charleston, S.C., some flag manufacturers are having a serious discussion about whether they should continue to make it. “We don’t want to cause someone continued pain because what it represents,” said Reggie Vanden Bosch, president of the Flag Manufacturers COnfederateFlagSkullAssociation of America in Wayne, Pa. “We’ll definitely spend time as an industry group discussing that.” The group represents about 38 flag manufacturers and retailers. Vanden Bosch is also vice president of sales for Valley Forge Flag, a 133-year-old maker of flags from more than 200 countries, states, territories, and also branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. He said sales of the Confederate flag comprise a “miniscule” part of his overall business. MORE

THE COUNCIL OF CONSERVATIVE CITIZENS:
Again, we utterly condemn Roof’s despicable killings, but they do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed.” The council’s site also has a statement from the organization’s president, Earl Holt III, saying, “The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website.” MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Many of the themes promoted on the council’s website resonate through an online manifesto apparently written by Dylann Roof, who has been charged in the killings last week in Charleston. The manifesto traced the motivation for the shootings to a twisted epiphany: a Google search that led to the council’s website, where “pages upon pages of brutal black on White murders” were tallied and described. “I have never been the same since that day,” the manifesto attributed to Mr. Roof said. MORE

THE ATLANTIC: The manifesto is wrong on the facts. A 2014 report by the Sentencing Project found that the media empirically tend to over-report crimes with black offenders and white victims. But the group he cited, the Council of Conservative Citizens, has spent a great deal of effort trying to convince people that black-on-white crime is a real menace. (Journalists are often bombarded with publicity materials for White Girl Bleed COnfederateFlagSkulla Lot, a book purporting to reveal the truth about black-on-white crime.) MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: Since it rose in the 1980s from the ashes of the old and unabashedly racist White Citizens’ Councils, the Council of Conservative Citizens has drifted in and out of notoriety. But it is clearly back in: Last weekend, three Republican presidential candidates — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky — announced that they were returning or giving away donations from the council’s president, Earl Holt III.

Since 2011, Mr. Holt has also contributed at least $3,500 to Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who is expected to run for president. A spokesman for Mr. Walker said he would donate the money to the Mother Emanuel Hope Fund, which is helping families of the Charleston massacre. All told, Mr. Holt, who did not return calls for comment, has given at least $57,000 to Republican candidates for federal and state offices. But those contributions, first reported by The Guardian, tell only part of the story of the council’s ties to Southern Republican officeholders. In the 1990s, the council counted influential Republican friends from town halls to the halls of Congress. Among those who have addressed its meetings were Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, at one time the Senate majority leader; Haley Barbour, a former national Republican chairman who was campaigning for governor in Mississippi at the time; and Mike Huckabee, the presidential candidate who was then Arkansas’ lieutenant governor.

More recently, Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina dropped a council official in her state, Roan Garcia-Quintana, from her re-election campaign’s advisory committee in 2013 after his COnfederateFlagSkullties to the group became public. In 1999, a cascade of reports linking Mr. Lott and other prominent Republicans to the council led the party’s national chairman, Jim Nicholson, to urge all Republicans belonging to the group to quit the organization, calling it racist. MORE

NPR: A two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate is required to remove the flag. However, there may be a workaround, and the law itself could be changed by a simple majority. The Post & Courier has a running tally of state lawmakers and how they stand on the issue. At her press conference, Haley said if the legislature doesn’t finish its session by acting to remove the flag, she will call an additional session. Also under the 2000 compromise: lowering the flag requires approval of the legislature, which is why even after Haley ordered the American and South Carolina flags ordered to half staff following last Wednesday’s massacre, the Confederate flag remained at full staff. MORE

THE POST & COURIER: The Post and Courier has reached out to lawmakers across South Carolina to find out where they stand on removing the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds. This is a work in progress, and we encourage you to keep checking back as we reach more legislators and update our results. We encourage any lawmakers reading this to get in touch with us and weigh in with their thoughts. We began polling lawmakers at about 9:00 am Monday, and have been updating this page with responses as we receive them. The collection of responses remains on-going. The page will update in real-time, no need to refresh. MORE

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INCOMING: Bowie’s Golden Years

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

Bowie Box Set Cover

 

PARLAPHONE: On this day in 1971, David Bowie performed for the first time at what was then known as the ‘Glastonbury Fair’. Today in 2015 as the Glastonbury Festival approaches once more, Parlophone Records are proud to announce DAVID BOWIE FIVE YEARS 1969 – 1973, the first in a series of box sets spanning his career. The ten album / twelve CD box, ten album / thirteen-piece vinyl set and digital download featurs all of the material officially released by Bowie during the nascent stage of his career from 1969 to 1973. All of the formats include tracks that have never before appeared on CD/digitally as well as new remasters. Exclusive to the box sets will be Re:Call 1, a new 2-disc compilation of non-album singles, single versions & B-sides. It features a previously unreleased single edit of All The Madmen, which was originally set for a US release but was never actually issued. Also included is the original version of Holy Holy, which was only ever released on the original 1971 Mercury single and hasn’t been available on any official release since. Also exclusive to all versions of Five Years 1969 – 1973 will be a 2003 stereo remix of ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’ by the album’s original co-producer, Ken Scott, previously only available on DVD with the LP/DVD format of the 40th anniversary edition of the album. The vinyl box set has the same content as the CD set pressed on audiophile quality 180g vinyl.The box set’s accompanying book, 128 pages in the CD box and 84 in the vinyl set, will feature rarely seen photos as well as technical notes about each album from producers Tony Visconti and Ken Scott, an original press review for each album and a short foreword by legendary Kinks front man Ray Davies. MORE

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BEING THERE: Morrissey @ The Academy Of Music

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

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Photo by DAN LONG

Two songs into his set at the Academy of Music on Saturday night, Morrissey paused to catch his breath and to beg the crowd to “save us from the memory of Delaware,” where he and his band were met by a sparse crowd of booing yokels at the Firefly Fest the day before. The near-deafening response made it clear that he’d get his wish. The packed house at the Academy got their wish, too: Moz more than rebounded from the Delaware disaster with an electric performance that kept the crowd on its feet for two hours and 20 songs that spanned from The Smiths years to Morrissey’s latest, World Peace is None of Your Business.

Thirty years to the month after The Smiths enchanted a room of fatalist misfits (including yours truly) at the Tower Theater, Morrissey is thicker and grayer — as are we all. His croon was in excellent form, however, remarkable considering the health problems that forced several rounds of tour cancellations last year. Let’s hope that a couple of off-mic coughs between songs isn’t indicative of any lingering trouble. The crowd at a Morrissey show knows that he’s not going to give them a cakewalk, as evidenced by the horrifying slaughterhouse footage projected behind the band during “Meat is Murder” and the medley of citizen-taped police beatings during “Ganglord.” They also know that they’ll be rewarded for their suffering with Smiths deep cuts like “What She Said” from 1988’s Rank and “Speedway” from 1994’s Vauxhall and I.

The encore, “First of the Gang to Die” from 2004’s You are the Quarry, was reminiscent of Morrissey’s gladiolus-flinging days with Marr & co., as a half-dozen adoring fans jumped on stage and ran to their hero for a hug before getting tackled by stage security. A clearly tickled Moz responded by switching the refrain “First of the gang to die / oh my” with “First of the gang to die / nice try.” Our conquering hero ended the show by tearing off his white shirt and throwing it to the screaming crowd. What a difference a few miles up I-95 makes. Suck it, Dela-where. – JOANN LOVIGLIO

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INCOMING: Summer Of Love

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

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I go way back with these guys, back to 2001 when they were just called Bill Ricchini [pictured, right], aka the Philly-native-turned-Brooklandian-ad-man pure-pop-for-now-people auteur/wunderkind who is, for all intents and purposes, Summer Fiction. Back then Ricchini was a dotbomb refugee who spent the unemployment benefits afforded him by his freshly-issued CDNow pink slip building a sad-sack bedroom-pop mini-masterpiece called Ordinary Time that worshipped at the altar of the three B’s — Beach Boys, Beatles and Bachrach. Critics swooned, chicks screamed, Jesus wept. He followed it up with the more-assured but-less-appreciated Tonight I Burn Brightly in 2005. After playing out that string, Ricchini took an early retirement from public music-making Bill_Ricchini_photoshoot9867and settled into a years long hermitage in the straight world of day jobs, domesticity and crock pot cookery. In 2010, he adopted the nom de pop Summer Fiction and threw his hat back in the ring with a self-titled collection of lush, sad-pop gems, most notably the standout single, “Chandeliers,” which really must be heard while watching this wonderful video (think Wes Anderson does French New Wave). Now comes Himalaya, the official soundtrack to your summer. Impeccably recorded in Manchester with former-Philly-music-scene-fixture-turned-Mancunian-ex-pat Brian Christinzio of BC Camplight fame behind the board, the new album sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned church with nothing more than Johnny Marr’s 1983 Black Rickenbacker 330, a bottle of Pernod and a candle. The guitars ring and chime and sparkle immaculately in between pristine silences, and the vocals map the velveteen intersections of heart and ache, invariably clustering into swooning Wilsonian chorales (most notably on the glorious Beach Boys homage of the title track) and Spectorian sighs. As with every Ricchini outing, Himalaya is a sun-kissed, windows-down ride to the gilded palace of mope where, as per Mike Love’s apocryphal complaint about Pet Sounds, even the happy songs sound sad. Gorgeous stuff. Resistance is futile. – JONATHAN VALANIA

SUMMER FICTION PLAYS THE BOOT N’ SADDLE SATURDAY JUNE 20TH

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BEING THERE: Shamir @ Making Time

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

SHARMIR_by_DYLAN_LONG

Photo by DYLAN LONG

Making Time celebrated its 15th anniversary in grand fashion last night at the Philly gayborhood’s Voyeur Nightclub, with a highly anticipated headlining set from dance-pop’s biggest and newest up-and-comer, Shamir. The 20 year-old sensation from Las Vegas has set himself apart from the pack with his breathtaking countertenor, lovely persona and vibrant variety of songs. Popping up on stage a few minutes after midnight to an immense roar from the hyped up crowd, Shamir knew exactly what kind of time the club was looking for as he kicked off his set with a pep in his step. Wild screams of bliss and countless individuals feverishly bouncing up and down told the story of Shamir’s 50-minutes of glory, especially during the performance of his extravagantly funky hit single “On The Regular.” Contrasting to the glamorous high-energy side of his repertoire, Shamir also incorporated a much more soft and delicate array of songs such as “Youth” (in which a full crowd sing-a-long was induced), an acoustic performance of “Darker” and the elegant “Head In The Clouds,” all of which showcased his strikingly androgynous countertenor voice. At the conclusion of his set, Shamir jumped into the crowd as the last song in his set wrapped up and began singing and dancing with members of the crowd, hugging people left and right and simply rejoicing in the beauty of the night. After his set concluded, I stood at the edge of the upper balcony watching him make his way through the crowd greeting everyone with a bright smile and gratitude in his eyes. I then came to the warmhearted conclusion that I want for nothing but greatness to come in the future of this wonderful young artist, and for him to continue pushing the boundaries of gender, music and self-expression until death do us part. — DYLAN LONG

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EARLY WORD: The Perfect Prescription

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Swamp Is On

 

R5 PRODUCTIONS: Back in 2013 both Dr Dog and the Pig Iron Theater Company were awarded a Fostering The Arts Grant from the Knight Foundation. Two years and hundreds of meetings later they will finally present their work with a four night stand at Union Transfer in September. A full collaboration between one of Philly’s most popular bands and the award winning experimental theater company. We don’t want to give away too much right now other than the collaborative effort will transform Union Transfer like you have never seen it before, a complete take over of the space in our venue. Their “experiment and transmission” will begin at 8pm each night followed by a full concert by Dr Dog. Tickets go on-sale this afternoon at 12 noon. We HIGHLY recommend getting tickets for this unique show as we expect all four nights to sell out. We are super excited to share more information about this special event as we get closer. Hope to see you there!

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TONITE: Shamone It

Friday, June 19th, 2015

shamir-ratchet

 

VILLAGE VOICE: Almost overnight, Shamir Bailey became something of a hero. At this time last year, he was releasing his first EP, the five-track Northtown, named for the Las Vegas suburb from which the singer-songwriter hails. Immediately, the EP showed a rare promise, garnering positive reviews for its clever meld of smart synth-pop and disco-inspired beats. And then there was Shamir himself: an über-stylish youngster, barely twenty, with a voice that sounded surprisingly like Nina Simone’s. He was entirely self-styled, from the way he sang and the smart construction of infectious songs that lay just somewhere left of mainstream pop, to his vibrant sartorial choices, to his nonchalant deconstruction of gender. Like Madonna, like Prince, like Beyoncé, “Shamir” became an immediate and singular brand, the kind of artist the world can identify simply, by only one name, because there is no one else to compare them to. In May, Shamir released his first full-length LP, Ratchet, on XL Recordings, to pretty much universal acclaim. The record was produced by Nick Sylvester, the Godmode label founder and former Pitchfork staffer who recorded and released Northtown on his Brooklyn-based imprint after Shamir sent him some demos. Like the EP, Ratchet is an eclectic blend of genres – R&B, disco, rap, funk, house – bursting with hooks and sharp turns of phrase. It’s a collection of songs you can hear once and never get out of your head, a glorious whirlwind of party anthems that manage to be heartfelt and distinctive. MORE

SHAMIR WILL PERFORM @ MIDNIGHT TONIGHT @ MAKING TIME @ VOYEUR

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BEING THERE: Robert Plant @ The Mann Center

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

ROBERT_PLANT_by_DAN_Long

Photo by DAN LONG

Flash back to 1972 in South Plainfield, NJ. I’m three years old. My earliest memories are of my father and I pulling the pots and pans out of the cupboard and setting them up like rack toms on a Ludwig kit because he and the drunk and stoned partygoers who were at my house every weekend were ripe and ready to watch me do my thing: the outro of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock & Roll.” Bonham’s mini-solo/big finish was in my hands now. Wooden spoons in hand, I blasted out the fills with such vigor – in my mind the spoons had flames shooting out of the ends and I nailed every hit perfectly. In the eyes of the bikers, truckers, and ne’er do wells at the party, I was a total spazz that had them guffawing until tears streamed down their cheeks as they cheered me on for an encore.

Shortly thereafter, around age five, as my fragile brain started to make more connections and Zeppelin became absolute magic to me. Nothing had ever taken my mind and soul and transported both into another dimension like this music. Listening to “The Battle Of Evermore,” the Eagle animal spirit flies me over the evergreen forests through the rising mist at 60mph. “Misty Mountain Hop” still flashes visions of denim-clad, boot-wearing cool guys hanging out in the sunshine smoking that stuff that smelled like burning rope. “Going To California” lit a fire in my heart that felt like it would lead me to my wife someday. Zeppelin made me want to be a magician when I grew up. Not the “pull bunnies out of a hat” magician, but one who can make things happen through the focus of my own will. Pretty fuckin’ cool shit for a five year old.

I’ve never lost my love for Zep over the years, except for the letdown of Jimmy’s drunken string plunking at Live Aid, and Robert’s pained overreaching, despite his diminished vocal range. His solo career has always been admirable, whether his “Big Log” days or The Honeydrippers or the Grammy-winning Raising Sand with Alison Krauss — all those stylistic changes always seemed to fit him like a glove.

Fast forward to last night’s Zeppelin-rich set. I had been telling two of my School of Rock friends (who are incredibly talented female vocalists) right before the show, to not be too disappointed with Robert’s voice if he tries to go for the upper register. I couldn’t have been more wrong as they opened with “Wanton Song” and he nailed every note. The crowd went nuts for all things Zep with “Black Dog,” “The Rain Song” (my wife and I had our first dance on our wedding day to this), “Trampled Under Foot,” “The Lemon Song.” Note that most of these gems start out in straight up Zep style, but midway through get broken down and deconstructed into World Music versions barely resembling their former album version selves. That’s the Plant style, which got dangerously “Dave Mathews-y” during a few tunes (yeesh!). When they jumped into a sped up “double-time boogie woogie” jam during “Whole Lotta Love” (or was it “Rock & Roll”?), I thought I was gonna blow chunks. It sounded like Zeppelin on Broadway. Nevertheless, Plant and company kept up a great energy level and the crowd responded in kind. A sustained roar pf applause brought them back quickly for a well-deserved encore. Every face I saw had a huge grin on it, mine included. It was that kind of gig. – DAN LONG

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