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BEING THERE: Pale Waves @ Union Transfer

Monday, November 12th, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

Every light in the room went to black, and a buzz of distortion grew into a thundering roar until overhead lights bathed the room in red, and the goth Britpop band Pale Waves took the stage. Surrounding a pale-faced black-lipsticked Heather Baron-Gracie were her bandmates – a pair of lanky indie boys Charlie Wood and Hugo Silvani, and fellow goth queen and Pale Waves co-founder Ciara Doran. Soon that droning background distortion morphed into the synthy build at the start of “Television Romance,” prompting Baron-Gracie to stomp around in robotic doll-like dance moves.

The dramatic contrast between complete darkness and a stage doused in deep red light cycled through for each song, as Pale Waves progressed through “Eighteen,” “New Year’s Eve,” and “Red” – all off of their debut album My Mind Makes Noises, which came out in September. Each track is its own tragic love story, the kind that you can imagine Baron-Gracie scribbling into a diary with pictures of young Robert Smith lookalikes pasted in between tear-stained words of heartbreak. This emo sensitivity isn’t what one would expect from the overtly goth lead singer, whose stringy black hair, platform shoes, and eyes shrouded in dark shadow make her look like 2018’s incarnation of Siouxsie Sioux.

But despite the sometimes sickeningly sweet songs of young love, the music behind the words does take influence from goth rock and new wave post-punk in a way that’s not unsimilar to fellow Manchester natives, the 1975. In fact, Matty Healy is one of Pale Waves’ biggest fans, and his help in editing and producing their music has certainly accelerated their recent rise to fame. With him, Pale Waves refined their fusion of pop and rock, hard-edged goth and vulnerable sensitivity, in a combination of drum hits and guitar hooks that is enticingly danceable.

Sometimes, however, this back and forth can get confusing. While playing a song, Baron-Gracie would stare out at the crowd like a stupefied zombie, her jerky dance moves adding to this robotic and unnatural stiffness. But during in-between moments, she was ebullient with love for the crowd, encouraging fans to sing along and raise their hands, telling the room over and over again how much she appreciated us all. At one point, she even brought out the tour photographer to take pictures of her with the crowd in the background, waving her hands about in an effort to make fans look more fun.

Nonetheless, these cheesy performance antics were charming. Pale Waves’ music isn’t markedly deep or revolutionary in its style or lyricism, but it is certainly a fresh take on the sad-pop that generations of young lovers have always turned to in moments of romantic angst and unrequited emotions. Baron-Gracie sings of the most foolish kind of love – one that offers its life so easily and stupidly that a lack of its return is almost guaranteed. Sometimes the mysteries of love and rejection are profound, especially as we grow older. But other times, our uncertainties are as simple as the questions Baron-Gracie wondered about in last night’s closing song, “There’s A Honey.” And when that’s the case, Pale Waves will be there to dance through the pain with you. — SOPHIE BURKHOLDER

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FUNNY GIRL: Q&A W/ Sasheer Zamata

Monday, November 12th, 2018

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BY ANTONIA BROWN Sasheer Zamata is a young comedian, actress, and writer perhaps best known for her tenure as a cast member on SNL, her appearances on the Stephen Colbert Show, or her own live variety show called Sasheer Zamata Party Time. Her new stand-up special Pizza Mind is currently streaming on Amazon Prime and Starz. She’s been in numerous short films as well starring in The Weekend, a new rom-com with a cast that is a who’s who of hot young black Hollywood that just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. She is a contributor to public radio’s This American Life. She is the voice of Sally in the first-person shooter “Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.” Off screen, she tackles social justice issues as the ACLU’S Celebrity Ambassador for Women’s Rights. In advance of her upcoming shows at Punch Line Philly (November 15th to the 17th) we got her on the horn to talk shop about her career, what made her want to pursue comedy, her work with the ACLU and the trials and tribulations of navigating the colorist Hollywood casting system as a darker-skinned female.

PHAWKER: So how did you become interested in comedy? Who were some of your early comedy heroes, and what was your ‘a-ha!’ moment when you decided this is what I am going to do with my life?

SASHEER ZAMATA: I started loving comedy when I was younger, I would watch MADTV, SNL, and “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” I loved improv and seeing improv and then I started doing it in high school but stopped doing it because it interfered with my choir rehearsals but then I picked it back up when I went to college, I was doing musical theater and plays and stuff and one of my directors suggested that I audition for the improv group at school, didn’t make it, started my own group and that was like so much fun. Then moved to New York thinking that I was going to do theater and Broadway and stuff but then I kept going back to improv, there was this theater, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre that I was obsessed with that I used to go to all the time then I eventually started taking classes, and then started doing sketch and stand up shortly after that, and then I was hooked. Then I was like I think comedy is where I’m headed and what I need to focus on and it turned out to be really beneficial.

PHAWKER: You play Zadie in a new film called The Weekend that just premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. What can you tell us about the film? Do you have any amusing or interesting stories you can share about working on the production?

SASHEER ZAMATA: Zadie is a comedian and it’s fun for me to play a comedian in a production because I’m trying to make this version of the character different then me as a comedian, and that was a fun exercise to try and figure out how I would come off as an completely different comedian than me. Zadie is more sarcastic than I am, a bit more blunt which is hard to do because I’m pretty blunt and the whole production was so fun. We shot a few weeks in Malibu and the cast is amazing. I love DeWanda Wise, Y’lan Noel, Tone Bell, Stella Maghie is the writer and director and it was just like really fun, it didn’t feel like work that much because everyone was laughing so much and we were having a blast and I can’t wait for people to see it!

PHAWKER: When does it open?

SASHEER ZAMATA: I don’t know exactly when it’s going to be distributed but I know it’s going to the AFI Festival in LA this weekend, or this coming weekend and hopefully it’ll be nationwide soon.

PHAWKER: In a piece you wrote for TIME, you spoke about what an important formative experience your time at UVA was, particularly the opportunity you had to play Lady Green in “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” written by Ntozake Shange, who just passed away. For readers that are not familiar with play, could you explain the play, the meaning of the title, the role you played and the importance of this play for young women of color coming of age?

SASHEER ZAMATA: Yeah that show means a lot to me because it was my first serious role in a production and the show is “for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf” which seems very heavy and depressing but there’s a lot of like rejuvenation and celebration in that show too and it’s a choreopoem so it’s written like poetry and I feel like that helps people connect to it in a different way than in like a regular play. The director of the show I was in, I did this in college at UVA, Theresa Davis was the director and she still teaches and directs at UVA, she would tell the students in the show to go out and talk to the audience members after the show, and the audience members were just so enraptured with it and really moved in different ways. It was so cool to talk to people who were older than me and younger than me, or a different race than me, gender, and they just totally got the words for whatever reason and I love that they were able to connect to the show, in a way that I can connect with a show, or in a way I could connect with a show. After I had did that production, I really pivoted my interest to performance because I just wanted to keep making people feel something after they see something that I am in, I just want you to feel anger, sadness, happiness, joy, whatever, I want you to leave the theater feeling something after you see me perform, so yeah that show was very important to me in a special way.
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BEING THERE: Hanson @ The Tower Theater

Monday, November 12th, 2018

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Photo by MATT SHAVER

“Who’s playing in there tonight?” said a passerby outside of the Tower last night.

“Hanson,” I said.

“Hanson? You mean ‘mmmmmmbop’ Hanson?”

“Yeah.”

“They’re still around? Good for them.”

I try to keep up, but things change so often, I inevitably lose track of bands, and I feel the worst about the 90s. “MmmBop” was a blip on everyones radar, but that jet blew past me and off to the horizon. Hanson, alongside acts like The Presidents of USA and Spin Doctors, went in to some vault in my brain that has only recently been opened again. Somewhere between the advent of Wikipedia and now, I started looking up old bands like I was cruising Facebook status updates to see how an old acquaintance was doing. I dove down deep rabbit holes, and karaoke worthy playlists. As you may have guessed, I discovered Hanson was still around, and still fun, just a different kind of fun since we last met.

Sunday night I found myself face-to-face with a lost portion of youth turning to that tried and true signal of maturation – the string album. It was all business from the word go. When I arrived there was still a lengthy line outside, but when 8 rolled around, the festivities kicked off with no opening act. They lead with the pretty “Reach for The Sky (Part 1)” and kept the mood a little low key, until around the fourth song when their seminal hit “MmmBop” made its appearance. For me, that really got the show going as I was spending time postulating on when it would show up, instead of just relaxing and enjoying the show.

The songs, played in the style they were, surprised me with their diversity. Some were gentle ballads, others whimsical piano pieces, and still others invoked stylistically similar creators like Nickel Creek. The crowd met each song with raucous applause, and more than a little screaming. I know that Hanson has a strong (and largely female) fanbase, so I was expecting more singing along. Alas, the audience respected the atmosphere the band was going for.

Songs like “Where’s The Love” and “Got A Hold On Me” kept the crowd on their feet, while the set opener(s) “Reach For The Sky” (Part 1) and (Part 2) were thoughtful pieces. If the evening had a major fault, it is that too often the strings reduced to background noise by other elements. I could tell by the intensity of their motion that they were playing hard, but the louder drum and electric guitars would drown out the majesty. Overall I was surprised, and pleased, at the song craft on display. It was enough to make me want to catch up a little with some guys I only knew about in high school, but never really hung out with. As I exited the venue and had the above interaction, I let out a small chuckle as I realized I had made it all the way across 69th street audibly humming “Mmmbop.” – MATT SHAVER

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Monday, November 12th, 2018

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FRESH AIR: You may be shocked by what’s living in your home — the bacteria, the fungi, viruses, parasites and insects. Probably many more organisms than you imagined.”Every surface; every bit of air; every bit of water in your home is alive,” says Rob Dunn, a professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “The average house has thousands of species.”

Dunn started out studying microorganisms and insects in rain forests, but his focus gradually shifted toward backyards and houses. “I eventually found myself in homes with the realization that a lot of what I’d done in jungles … we could do under the bed and showers,” he says. “And we were making the same kinds of discoveries I’d make in Bolivia or Ghana or Australia or anywhere else.”Never_Alone

Dunn’s new book, Never Home Alone, describes the tiny life forms he’s found living in different parts of the home, including on floors and water faucets and in basements and heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Dunn warns that, too often, people attempt to scrub away all microbes — without considering that some of the organisms may actually be beneficial. Take antibacterial soaps, for instance. Dunn notes that although antibacterial soaps kill pathogens, they also tend to favor some bacteria that are harmful to humans.

“They’re really a great example of where we’ve gone too far in trying to kill everything around us, and it’s had unintended consequences,” he says. Instead, Dunn suggests that humans would do better to accept the microbes that share our space. MORE

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BEING THERE: Ron Gallo @ First Unitarian

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

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Photo by HENRY SAVAGE

Last night, fans of hometown hero Ron Gallo gathered in the basement of the First Unitarian Church to welcome his return in glorified house show style. As Coltrane deep cuts played between sets of bluesy Laurel Canyon harmonies from two Nashville-based openers Twen and Ian Ferguson, locals exchanged beers, handshakes, and tales of the last time they saw Gallo play the church. Having found his music a few months ago through Instagram posts from one of his tour photographers, I let these exaggerated claims of Gallo’s “indescribable awesomeness” feed my anticipation.

The band members emerged, each equipped with a Fiji water bottle (not very rock and roll, if you ask me), to a loud play of “Happy Birthday,” as Gallo passed a cookie, card, and candle to a dude in a red shirt. Wearing white overalls and a yellow beanie over his voluminous hair, Gallo marched into the slow and steady opening of “‘You’ Are the Problem” off of 2018’s Stardust Birthday Party, the keyboardist backing up the song’s meditative verse with heightened layers of distortion at the end. This new album brings Ron Gallo’s personal reflections on one of the most tired clichés: going on a spiritual retreat in California in an effort to find himself. And while this venture may have helped him resolve some sources of stress or anxiety in his life, it’s also taken the hard edge out of his music.

He took this theme of compassion to unironic and corny extremes, purposefully taking a moment before “It’s All Gonna Be Ok,” to look directly at the crowd and say with a practiced omniscience, “It’s all gonna be okay, no matter what it is. Really.” Certainly the pleas for love and equality in songs like “Happy Deathday,” or “Love Supreme (Work Together!)” are a mentality we should all strive for, but given the recent acts of immense hatred in this country, they seemed far too naΪve a solution.

But worst of all was the lack of connection between Gallo and the crowd, one that’s absolutely necessary when espousing such cheesy messages of community. The frontline of the pit was packed with wobbly drunks who couldn’t handle a few cans of cheap beer, a girl on one side of me inexplicably crying through the entire encore, and a dude on the other loudly yelling that he would piss his pants by the end of the night (I didn’t stick around to see that).  Even when Gallo’s former Toy Soldiers bandmate Matt Kelly came onstage to play while Gallo jumped into the crowd, fans stepped back in awe instead of dancing along with him like he so clearly wanted.

Though the encore of “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me,” and “All the Punks are Domesticated” – two songs off of Gallo’s debut Heavy Meta – nearly provoked the bluesy concert high I expected from the night, Gallo poisoned it with another pretentiously pensive proclamation that people’s egos prevented them from enjoying moments of silence. He still ended the night with a small laugh and smile, but the awkward intensity of his exchange with the crowd made me wonder if he had been spiritually overwhelmed by his homecoming, or if this were merely an off night for him in the monotonous routine of touring. – SOPHIE BURKHOLDER

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

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Painting by PAUL MEIJERING

FRESH AIR: Brian May, the lead guitarist in the British glam-rock band Queen, is a modern-day renaissance man.Eighteen of his albums with Queen have topped the charts, selling more than 300 million copies worldwide. May, who played the guitar solo in “We Are the Champions,” also sang the bass parts in Queen’s rock opera “Bohemian Rhapsody” and penned the classic anthem “We Will Rock You.” He’s on Rolling Stone’s list of the Top 100 guitarists ever.

But May’s interests aren’t limited to the rock world. Before Queen made it big, May was studying astrophysics at Imperial College in London. He gave it up to hit the road with Queen, but his background in physics helped the band in the recording studio: In “We Will Rock You,” for example, he designed the sound of the famous “stomp stomp clap” section — in order to make it sound like thousands of people were stomping and clapping — based on his knowledge of sound waves and distances. (A more detailed explanation exists in interview highlights below, but he constructed the stomps based on a series of distances based on prime numbers.)

He tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross that ironically, that famous “stomp-clap thing” in “We Will Rock You” wasn’t even included in the original song. May explains that he got the idea after a particularly animated Queen show at Bingley Hall near Birmingham, England. “The audience was responding hugely, and they were singing along with everything we did,” he says. “I remember talking to [lead singer] Freddie Mercury about it. And I said, ‘Obviously, we can no longer fight this. This has to be something which is part of our show and we have to embrace it, the fact that people want to participate — and, in fact, everything becomes a two-way process now. And we sort of looked at each other and went, ‘Hmm. How interesting.’ ”

May went home that night and says he woke up the next morning with the “stomp stomp clap” line in his head. “I was thinking, ‘What can you give an audience that they could do while they’re standing there? They can stamp and they can clap and they can sing some kind of chant,’ ” he says. “To me, it was a united thing. It was an expression of strength.”

In 2007, May earned a doctorate from Imperial after completing his dissertation on interplanetary dust. His book on the subject, Bang! The Complete History of the Universe, was released in 2006. May tells Terry Gross that, while traveling the world with Queen, he would often stop in antique stores on the road to look for stereoscopic photographs. His interest in the early 3-D photographs led to the publication of a second book, A Village Lost and Found, which depicts life in a small English village at the beginning of the 1850s.

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BEING THERE: Low @ Underground Arts

Sunday, November 11th, 2018

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Photo by MARK LIKOSKY

With the perfect certainty of a heavy ocean wave crashing upon the shore, Low is a force of nature. That wave may start off small, might eat you up and crash you into the rocks or it may lift you higher into the suns rays. Although they still rock the slowcore vibe which they were only loosely associated with, Low now also has this sort of “I-don’t-know-but-whatever-it-is-I-like-it-core” vibe in that each album wiggles around different genres while still maintaining their strange and peaceful aesthetic. When they first started getting a bit more poppy I suppose I just wasn’t ready, but looking back and giving albums like The Great Destroyer a fresh listen I’m finally feeling where they were going with their ocean of sound. “Dancing in Blood” started with the intro playing on what I assumed was some sort of laptop or keyboard but in fact it was all coming from bass player Steve Garrington’s vast array of effect pedals. I love the way Low start songs with subtle attacks from a quiet discordant pluck of a string to a weird combination of delay pedals and pitch shifters soon to be layered with two distinctly different vocal harmonies as they move from sweet quiet melodic tunes to deep dark heavy ballads and never lose the flow. Last night at Underground Arts Low was perfect, their dark yet warm sound leaving me oddly hopeful about the long winter that is to come. – MARK LIKOSKY

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BEING THERE: Darwin Deez @ World Cafe Live

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

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PHOTO BY HENRY SAVAGE

Last night at World Cafe Live, the age range of the audience was so diverse it was likely you saw your mom’s tennis partner Regina and the neighborhood pest Shane who just started high school. That’s the appeal of Darwin Deez, regardless of who you are, he’s still going to have you on your feet and bouncing to his indie pop hits. If you aren’t dancing as hard as he is, he’ll drop down into the crowd to show you how.

Even his opener brought fire to the stage, Soren Bryce, a badass electronic pop musician that was accompanied by her early twenty-something ensemble of hip millennials. At one point when the crowd of clamoring teenagers in the front row wouldn’t stop talking through her set, Bryce let ‘em hear it. “WE TRAVELED ALONG WAY TO BE HERE, I HOPE YOU’RE NOT GOING TO TALK THROUGH THE WHOLE THING,” Bryce bellowed at the crowd. Audience inattention didn’t stop Bryce, as she and the band plowed forward, head banging through the amps crackling and Bryce’s energy in full force.

In retrospect though, when half the audience is 17 years old, it’s hard not to expect some attention deficit to occur. You know it’s a young audience when you see a mom weave through the crowd to ask her son if he needs his sweater. Yes. That happened. And for that, show moms everywhere, we thank you.

As the four piece band took stage they lined up shoulder to shoulder with their backs to the crowd, as if they were about to perform Village People’s “YMCA.” That’s when DJ Telly Tellz’s FUCK IT UP CHALLENGE, an urban dance craze popularized through social media, blasted through the speakers and the four of them embarked on a fit of hard stomping, swirling dance moves that had the whole crowd FUCKING IT UP with them.

Darwin went through most of his catalog, dipping in between his self titled album all the way through his newest efforts, 10 Songs That Happened When You Left Me With My Stupid Heart. Throughout the set, he would interlude to similar dance routines that kept the crowds energy high and towards the end Deez even waded through the audience playing his guitar to the swarm of teens trying to get a photo for the Snapchats. Deez maybe in his thirties, but he knows how to keep a room of teenagers and decade-long fans entertained and feel like their part of the same community. – HENRY SAVAGE

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INCOMING: New Panda Bear Album Imminent

Friday, November 9th, 2018

Panda Bear Painting
Artwork by HUGO OLIVEIRA
Noah Lennox’s sixth solo album as Panda Bear is Buoys, due out February 8th, 2019 on Domino. The first song to be released from Buoys is “Dolphin”: Lennox’s bright, sincere voice front and center, with miles of space surrounding it, a guitar and some textured samples fleshing out the dubby sparseness and undercurrent of speaker-limit-pushing sub-bass low-end. You can listen to it below.

Buoys was co-produced and co-mixed by collaborator Rusty Santos in Lennox’s adopted home of Lisbon, Portugal. Lennox and Santos last collaborated on the landmark Panda Bear album Person Pitch, which had its 10-year anniversary last year. Animated by their ongoing interest in contemporary music production techniques, Lennox and Santos envisioned something that would “feel familiar to a young person’s ears.” However, Buoys retains a deep layer of experimentation coursing through the hyper-modern production – a hallmark of Panda Bear releases that will feel intimately familiar to fans of Lennox’s decade-plus body of work.

Alongside Santos, Buoys also features collaborators in Chilean DJ/vocalist Lizz and Portuguese musician Dino D’Santiago, both artists who came to Lennox via Santos’ recent trap and reggaeton production work; the former contributes arrangements throughout the album including “Dolphin,” and both lend their vocals to “Inner Monologue.”

Buoys is the first Panda Bear release since 2018’s vinyl-only EP A Day With the Homies, and the follow-up to 2015’s kaleidoscopic full-length Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. “The last three records felt like a chapter to me, and this feels like the beginning of something new,” says Lennox whilst surveying how Buoys relates to the estimable Panda Bear catalogue. Indeed, the forthcoming Buoys is full of fresh ideas from one of modern music’s most fascinating, innovative, and emotionally generous artists.Buoys will be available on CD, LP, and Limited Edition LP, and digitally on February 8, 2019.

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BEING THERE: Shannon @ The Clams

Friday, November 9th, 2018

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Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER

Last night, the kitschy-cool underground of Philadelphia gathered at First Unitarian to worship at the altar of Shannon & The Clams, one of the only modern bands whose sound is a manifestation of a rock and roll that reaches from the Ronettes to The Clash, and everything that’s followed. The sold-out crowd was dappled with heads of hair as vibrantly colorful as the wigs in the video for “Backstreets” (see below) off their new LP, Onion. Crowned in shades of lavender and burnt orange and neon green, fans of the Oakland retro rockers dressed in loud sartorial crossovers of flared houndstooth pants, turquoise sequined dresses, and studded leather jackets.

But for all their elements of nostalgia, Shannon & The Clams are never stale. Immediately plunging into the dreamy opening strum of “The Boy,” the foursome sent the crowd off into an eternal sway that matched the pace of guitarist Cody Blanchard’s own rhythmic toe-tapping. With a thin Little-Richards-like mustache penciled above his upper lip, Blanchard screamed out high notes in the song that I had originally mistaken for bassist Shannon Shaw’s voice in the recordings. Reaching back to prior albums Gone by the Dawn, Dreams in the Rat House, and Sleep Talk, the set included intoxicatingly smooth pop tones like “I Will Miss the Jasmine,” and the driving punk drumbeat behind tunes like “You Will Always Bring Me Flowers.”

Fresh tracks like “Love Strike,” “It’s Gonna Go Away,” and “Backstreets,” off of Onion were undoubtedly the hottest of the night, with the band still visibly relishing their sparkly Zombies-like newness. But the setlist also included covers of The Misfits’ “Angel Fuck,” Zager & Evans’ “In the Year 2525,” and a room-shaking homage to fellow Californians Jefferson Airplane with “White Rabbit.” Rarely pausing for longer than a few words of thanks between songs, the Clams accelerated through swinging crowd pleasers like “Rip Van Winkle,” and “Ozma,” before settling on the prom-slow-dance doowop of “Did You Love Me.”

When it was all over, the crowd’s demands for more brought the band back on stage for a two-song encore of “If You Could Know,” and “Onion.” Each complemented the other, the first being “a song about happiness in life,” as Shaw put it, and the second about searching for deeper problems within ourselves in order to remedy them. The organ riffs behind the self-help mantra of the latter incited a writhing mosh pit of John Waters characters, everyone twisting about in an unashamed expression of their loudest selves.

After a punchy opening set from charmingly degenerate locals, The Tough Shits [arguably one of the greatest band names in the history of bad attitude rock n’ roll. — The Ed.], and one from Dirty Fences that featured a surprise appearance of Tina Halladay from Sheer Mag, fans found a collective comfort in each other, one that this church basement always seems to inspire. Shaw herself noted this rare magic, thanking the Unitarians for allowing such wild and free self-expression, even if it differed from their own personal views. Half of this band’s appeal is their energetic love for the foundation of a genre that’s too often pushed to the sidelines of popular culture, but the other is the diverse community of personalities that gather around it – a combination of blue lipstick, vintage keyboards, and a punk mentality that make everyone in its presence unafraid to peel back the layers of their own metaphorical onions. – SOPHIE BURKHOLDER

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Hundreds Gather At Thomas Paine Plaza To Protest Trump’s Firing Of Jeff Sessions, Move On Mueller

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

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Photo by DARREN LOPRINZI

Hundreds of Philadelphians gathered at Thomas Paine’s Plaza on Thursday night, in solidarity with thousands across the nation who were staging rallies in their cities and towns, to oppose the forced resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting AG. Whitaker, who openly shit-talked Mueller investigation on Fox News, is now taking charge of the Department of Justice and with it the Mueller investigation. Everyone from Millenials to Baby Boomers were in attendance, with some folks rocking signs that said things like YOU CAN’T FIRE THE TRUTH and PROTECT MUELLER, PROTECT THE TRUTH. District Attorney Larry Krasner and other speakers at the rally demanded that Whitaker recuse himself and urged the participants to get more active in elections and protests against the current administration. Micah Sims of Common Cause Pennsylvania, who spoke at the rally, told Phawker this administration will do whatever it needs to do to protect itself so everyone needs to “stay woke.” “Call your U.S. senator tomorrow and tell them to protect the Mueller investigation,” he urged. – HENRY SAVAGE

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Win Tix To See Kamasi Washington @ Franklin Hall

Thursday, November 8th, 2018

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Kamasi Washington just might save modern jazz from its long, slow frogmarch to cultural irrelevance. Born to musical parents, and an alumnus of UCLA’s Department of Ethnomusicology, Kamasi Washington is a saxophonist, composer, producer, bandleader, and wizard. His latest album is a double LP called Heaven And Earth. Back in April of this year, Kamasi Washington explained the concept behind Heaven And Earth, tweeting, “The Earth side represents the world as I see it outwardly, the world that I am a part of. The Heaven side represents the world as I see it inwardly, the world that is a part of me.” So let’s start with Earth. The album immediately lands a right jab straight to the dome with “Fist of Fury,” a Malcom X-ian call to arms featuring Patrice Quinn and Dwight Trible chanting “We will no longer ask for justice/Instead, we will take our retribution.” It was also released as a single in April, along with Heaven’s opening track, “The Space Travelers Lullaby.” Earth uses mostly conventional styles of jazz, thus creating a sound that’s more mundane and earthly – though not in any way lacking in turbulence or excitement; the album is undeniably jam-packed with drama.

Moving on to the celestial meat and potatoes. Heaven’s grandiose orchestral jazzscapes are like the soundtrack to a trailer of a futuristic utopia, where the air is clean and electric cars fly between mile-high vertical farms. This glorious sound achieved by Kamasi Washington does invaluable justice to the modest (and dare I say starving) world of contemporary jazz. Heaven’s angelic atmosphere is largely owed to the string section employed where it was not found on Earth. This, along with more modern and cosmic synth textures besprinkled here and there, escorts us into Washington’s sonic inner sanctum.

We are giving away a pair of tickets to see Kamasi at Franklin Music Hall tomorrow night.To qualify to win, you must be signed up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! The thirteenth Phawker reader to email us at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us they have signed up for our mailing list (or have been all along) wins. Put the words EVERYONE WANTS TO GO TO HEAVEN BUT NO ONE WANTS TO DIE in the subject line and include your full name as it appears on your photo ID along with a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed! – KYLE WEINSTEIN

KAMASI WASHINGTON + BUTCHER BROWN @ FRANKLIN MUSIC HALL 11/9

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CLAMDIGGING: Q&A With Shannon Shaw

Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

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SOPHIE_BURKHOLDER_BYLINERBY SOPHIE BURKHOLDER Shannon Shaw is the fearless leader of the Oakland-based vintage rock foursome, Shannon and the Clams. Drawing inspiration from 50’s and 60’s era rock, they sound like some dreamy combination of the Zombies, Chuck Berry, and the Chantels – with a little added edge from their punk DIY-scene roots. Earlier this year, Shannon and the Clams released Onion, their sixth studio album and first on The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach’s label. Partially inspired by the loss of friends in the deadly Oakland Ghost Ship fire of 2016, the record follows Shaw’s gritty Winehouse-like croon as the band pulls back each layer of the metaphorical onion they’ve grown into since their start ten years ago. We got Shaw on the phone in advance of the Clams’ Thursday show at First Unitarian to talk about that introspection, what it’s like to be a woman in rock today, and how it feels to have John Waters as your biggest fan.

PHAWKER: I wanted to start by talking about Onion, and more specifically the dedication of it to the victims of the Ghost Ship fire back in 2016. What made you decide to do that? Were you part of that artist collective, and did you have friends in it?

SHANNON SHAW: Basically, that occurred when we were halfway through writing the album, and Shannon Shaw (Of Shannon & The Clams)- Shannon In Nashvillethat was just complete sadness. It was so unbelievable. I’d never suffered or lived through trauma like that before. There’s a hole in Oakland now. But I think a big part of why it touched us so much was that not only did we all live there or have lived there, but we all lost friends in the fire, and that place is the kind of place we would play. Our band came up in the Oakland warehouse scene. We would play more warehouses than we would play anything else. The warehouse scene is a very unique, very special, and very sacred place. So it just brought on a lot of reflection of all sorts when that occurred. It was constantly on everyone’s mind. Before we figured out who had passed in the fire, there were days of everyone waiting on edge, trying to find out who was at the party. I know that our drummer was saying he was having a party that night and Ghost Ship was close to his house. And I was actually at a bonfire at my brother’s house, and there were people coming and going from that party at that bonfire. Like people left our bonfire to go there. Luckily, they didn’t make it into the warehouse, but it was super traumatic.

PHAWKER: You said that you were halfway through writing the album when that happened, so did you end up keeping those songs you had already written?

SHANNON SHAW: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Maybe a third of the album is more related to those events.

PHAWKER: Do you still keep up with the Oakland scene, or have favorite bands coming out of there right now?

SHANNON SHAW: The Oakland scene has changed so much, but I try to. When I’m home, my brothers play in some bands. The garage rock scene that was in Oakland feels like it’s morphed. A lot of it’s gone. A ton of people moved away. A lot of people became junkies. A lot of people just broke up or got married and settled down. So what’s left of that scene has morphed in an interesting way. I feel like people are getting more creative. With the Ghost Ship fire, I feel like that blew a big hole in the scene too. In one sense, it’s brought more people out. Over time a lot of people have had to move away, but the people that have stayed almost have a deeper passion and a better understanding of how fragile and temporary life is. I feel like it made a lot of genres and mini-scenes within the Oakland punk scene come together more, and support each other more.
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Via BuzzFeed

Cost of the War in Iraq
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