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July 12th, 2012

What If Van Halen Hadn’t Canceled Their Tour? PW’s Subjunctive Review of a Hypothetical Concert from an Alternate Universe

Van-Halen-wallpaper“We’re gonna do fucked-up stuff to your face holes tonight!” David Lee Roth would have screamed, and with that disgusting promise, legendary rockers Van Halen would have begun their almost two-hour set at a sold-out Wells Fargo Center. Featuring Eddie Van Halen on guitar, his 21-year-old son Wolfgang on bass, Alex Van Halen on drums, and lead vocalist (and “official bikini inspector”) Dr. Rockzo Roth, the group would have opened with the 1984 hit “Panama,” dedicating it to the late Ernest Borgnine. The four band members—all clad in leather cargo pants—would have quickly surprised the many skeptics in the audience with their still-sharp abilities. (David would have boasted that they were “as tight as a Laotian drummer boy.”)

After whipping up the crowd with the reminder that they were actually playing this show and would never dream of doing anything like, say, canceling their entire tour due to “exhaustion” then spending their off time hyping a possible Super Bowl halftime appearance, Van Halen would have ripped through some of their many hits. Fan requests for classics like “Hot For Teacher” and “Beautiful Girls” would have been immediately fulfilled—although some requests, such as “Do that song where David Lee Roth finally announces he’s gay!” would have gone unanswered. Their 19-song setlist also would have contained four tracks off their new record (which we would never have got the name of), along with a surprising medley of tunes from Van Halen III, the 1998 album by the Gary Cherone-led line-up, that would have completely delighted the crowd.

Unfortunately, the most memorable moments of the night would have been the bad ones. Before launching into their cover of “Dancing In The Street,” David would have dedicated the song to axed original bassist Michael Anthony, whom he would have claimed was “out making hot sauces or something.” This quip would have immediately angered Alex, who’d have jumped up from behind his drums and angrily fired back, “Hey, his hot sauces are pretty good!” Eddie would have quickly joined in defense of their former member, claiming that Roth “never gave his hot sauces a chance.” It would have been very clear this was still a touchy subject. The verbal scuffle would have had to be broken up by the most sensible and levelheaded person onstage, a 21-year-old named Wolfgang.

The tension would have gotten progressively worse throughout the night, finally reaching its climax during Roth’s band introductions—“Let’s hear it for Eddie, ladies and gentlemen! He’s not that drunk tonight! Owww!” Furiously, Eddie and Alex would have made a beeline offstage while Wolfgang shook his head, telling the singer that the remark was, in his words, “not cool.” As the bassist followed the other members in protest, Roth would have called for the younger Van Halen to stay, though he would have kept erroneously referring to him as “Skip.”

With no band behind him, David would have looked upon the awkwardly quiet crowd with tears in his eyes and exclaimed that “The show must go on!” And so it would have, for 20 more surreal minutes. Roth would have spent the first part graphically air-humping an imaginary girl. It would have been weird. Next, he would have performed a long spoken-word piece entitled “The Best Pussy I Ever Got,” explaining that it was currently being worked into a screenplay. When it became obvious that he was losing the crowd, he would have attempted to win them back by performing an a capella version of “Runnin’ With The Devil.”

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He then would have sobbed some more until the house lights went up.

Rating: 6 stars out of 10

Thursday, July 12th, 2012 Posted in Features, Reviews | 4 Comments »

May 2nd, 2012

Q&A With SST’s Joe Carducci, Who Reads From His Book Life Against Dementia Tonight At Brickbat

lifeagainstdementiaWay back in the 80s, while most of us were blasting Tone Loc on the way to orthodontist appointments, a tight-knit cadre of social misfits was toiling seven days a week and sleeping a few winks each night on the floor of a rundown office in Southern California. Their charge: to market and distribute the music of genre-defining and -bending acts like Black Flag, Saint Vitus, Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth. Just about any longhair that picks up a guitar is channeling the spirit of SST Records, whether he knows it or not. Elder statesmen of the bunch, Joe Carducci sheds none of SST’s caustic ambition in his writing, notably in 1991’s  Rock & The Pop Narcotic, a hefty volume of rock cheerleading and industry criticism from a guy who’s had plenty of time to contemplate his subject. His new one, Life Against Dementia, collects writing previously seen in Arthur magazine, the Match!, and The New Vulgate and covers subjects as varied as the Meat Puppets, Warren Oates and Hillary Clinton.

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 Posted in Features | No Comments »

April 30th, 2012

In Honor Of Bandname’s Friday Show At KFN, Here Are Five Frustrating Bands To Search For Online


Since the internet has made it incredibly easy to start and promote bands, there’s an infinite number to choose from. (Frankly, too many. There are too many bands!) In order to cut through all the noise and get noticed, picking a name is an increasingly important part of being an artist. You want a name that’s interesting or unique so people will remember it. (Pretty sure this is why Vampire Weekend became so popular.) You also want to pick a moniker that describes what your band is all about. (Say what you will about Insane Clown Posse, they’re incredibly up-front about who they are.) But while the internet can be a band’s best friend, it can also be an enemy, especially when it comes to Googling them. In honor of Philly punkers Bandname, who are playing with Pierced Arrows and Far-Out Fangtooth at Kung Fu Necktie this Friday, here are five bands that you might have trouble looking up on the net.


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Yes, their band name is Bandname. (Well, it’s supposed to be, according to their websites. Sometimes, it’s written as “Band Name,” which only makes searching more difficult, but we’ll trust what the group says.) In any case, we should applaud them for thinking of a clever name and sticking with it. Although searching “Bandname” on Google now brings up their MySpace as the first result (YouTube is a little less accurate), during the first few years when they weren’t one of Philly’s local favorites, it was harder.

The United States of America

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Avant garde-psychedelic group The United States of America only made one self-titled album in 1968, but it’s a little-known cult classic. Unfortunately, they share their name with our beloved, God-fearing nation. (We were going to Google “The United States of America” to see how far into the results brought up the band, but we’d like to go home at some point tonight.) Since their name is slightly more specificnot to mention more popular—the website for ’90s rockers The Presidents of the United States of America gets the first Google result for their name, since it’s at least somewhat more specific. The first correct result also comes up when searching for “A Horse With No Name” hit-makers America, which is straight up unfortunate for our country.


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Electronic duo Suicide have made some of the coldest and scariest music in history, so their name makes sense. Though it’s not too hard to find them on Google, it’s more difficult on YouTube, especially when you’re trying to search for live footage. Entering “live suicide” will probably bring up some significantly different results, but we’re too afraid to look. (This also made us think it must be tough to search for live footage of ’90s alternative band Live, of “Lightning Crashes” fame, though nobody has searched for that since the days of Ask Jeeves.)

Anal Cunt

Although typing their name into a search engine will give you results for the band, it also brings up some, er, other things as well. We would look, but we’re in an office, and if we searched Anal Cunt for examples of what besides the band came up, our boss would most likely want to have a little chat with us.


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The clear winner (loser?) out of this unsearchable list are dance-rockers !!!, whose Google search brings up literally zero results. That’s pretty incredible, given their popularity; of course, their name is just three exclamation points. As any hardcore fan of the band knows, !!! is pronounced Chk Chk Chk. (Though technically, according to the band, any onomatopoeia repeated three times will work, not that it makes any more sense.) It’s pretty cool to have a band name that has interchangeable pronunciation, but to anybody who doesn’t have that knowledge and wants to look up the band, they’ll quickly get pretty pissed off.

Monday, April 30th, 2012 Posted in Features | No Comments »

March 11th, 2012

PHOTOS: The Black Keys & Arctic Monkeys At Wells Fargo Center






Sunday, March 11th, 2012 Posted in Features, News | No Comments »

February 9th, 2012



NOTE: Just the tip of this interview appeared on the pages of the most recent issue of Philadelphia Weekly, which hit the streets yesterday. Get a copy. Here’s the whole damn thing.

Thanks to Lana Del Rey, who you probably know as “that awkward, puffy-lipped so-called singer who bombed on Saturday Night Live,” music critics have trapped themselves once again within the murky, moronic concept of “authenticity.” Is she really real, or is she acting? Is she a marketing-gimmick? Is she, like Holden Caulfield’s bro, a goddamn phoney? Such questions are only asked by gnawing little mice who want desperately to be metaphysicians. Here’s a response: Pizza!

The “authenticity” flames haven’t blazed this bright since South African rave-rap group Die Antwoord (The Answer) exploded the Internet back in 2010, when their “Enter The Ninja” vid went next-level viral. With choppy, shocking images and super-anti-hero gusto, nobody was ready for rapper Ninja and vocalist Yo-Landi Vi$$er’s disturbing (and hilarious) articulation of the all-encompassing aesthetic they referred to as “Zef Style”—a South African low-culture which Die Antwoord aimed to elevate, celebrate and proliferate.

Evidence that Die Antwoord was merely Ninja’s latest “conceptual” music project soon spread across the Web faster than a Kardashian sextape, and the group was reduced to mere thought-fodder as critics ruminated their authenticity. Is Die Antwoord real? Is it an art proj? Is Ninja acting, or is he really real? Is Yo-Landi a butterfly? Ugh. It was like a freshman comparative lit class high on Roland Barthes and Four Loko.

Following irrevocable disagreements with Interscope Records about the direction of their follow-up to 2010’s $O$, Die Antwoord self-released Ten$ion this week on Zef Recordz, and their North American tour begins Thursday night at the Trocadero. I talked to Ninja on the phone shortly after they finished shooting a video for their new single, “I Fink U Freeky.” It’s posted below. Watch it. (Elliott Sharp)

Thursday, February 9th, 2012 Posted in Features, Shows | 1 Comment »

December 30th, 2011

Fill In The Blanks With Bleeding Rainbow, Slutever, And Creepoid

2011’s almost over. Each year goes quicker. Time’s always vanishing. Running and passing, passing and running. All connections remain incomplete. Another wasted year. So many mistakes. We’re all dying. We’re already dead. HAPPY NEW YEAR?

Ugh! Life! It’s so awful. At least there’s music. Without it there would be many more suicides. Many more road rage rampages. Many more random kill ‘em alls. Music gives us something to live for. Music is so great, everyone seems to think. Whether you listen to crap like Bon Iver or cool stuff like Taylor Swift, everyone’s just trying to alleviate the dreadful awfulness of life. HAPPY NEW YEAR?

I started making daily posts on Make Major Moves earlier this year, and this will be my last one. I’ll still review a concert or two, but no more daily jawns for me. Good bye. One of my first posts, back in April, was about Reading Rainbow. The Philly duo was releasing a new 7-inch called Cover The Sky, so I asked Sarah and Rob to share with us their favorite 7-inches (Reading Rainbow’s Top Five 7-Inches). Since then, the duo became a trio and they changed their name to Bleeding Rainbow (pic above). So much can change in one year…

Armed with its third member and a new name, Bleeding Rainbow headline a New Year’s Eve show at The Level Room (the post-Little Bar venue of local presenters Phonographic Arts) with Pink Skull, Fire In The Hearts And Minds, Exploding World, and Creepoid (the Philly band responsible for one of the most praised local albums of 2011, Horse Heaven). Also on the bill is Slutever, the Philly punk duo of Nicole Snyder and Rachel Gagliardi, who I interviewed for Make Major Moves back in August. An excellent concert to welcome 2012, no doubt.

I caught up with Bleeding Rainbow, Slutever and Creepoid yesterday and asked them to fill in the blanks for a few burning sentences. Here’s what they had to say. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Our favorite 2011 album by a Philadelphia band is…
“Leather – Wretch EP.” – Bleeding Rainbow
First, by Cousin Brian.” – Slutever
“Far Out Fang-Tooth’s Pure and Disinterested on Siltbreeze Records.” – Creepoid

Philadelphia became an even doper city in 2011 because…
“Superfresh opened on Girard Avenue.” – Bleeding Rainbow
“we moved to Fishtown!” – Slutever
“Craigslist posts about ’sex for seats.’” – Creepoid

The best thing we did in 2011 was…
“acid hike at Hawk Mountain.” – Bleeding Rainbow
“tour across America, where we played a pizza themed festival in Seattle, ate paletas and barbeque in Nashville, and played with Alison Wofle’s new band, Cool Moms, in California.” – Slutever
“Vickadelphia.” – Creepoid

The worst thing we did in 2011 was…
“acid hike at Hawk Mountain.” – Bleeding Rainbow
“lose 15 beers somewhere in our house. Seriously where are they????” – Slutever
“play the Tritone.” – Creepoid

Our 2012 New Year’s Resolution is…
“to visit every Whole Foods in America.” – Bleeding Rainbow
“to watch a lot of TV on our two brand new televisions!!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and maybe release some new songs.” – Slutever
“never get caught!” – Creepoid

Bleeding Rainbow, Slutever + Creepoid play Sat., Dec. 31, 8pm. $15. The Level Room, 21st & Market Streets.

Friday, December 30th, 2011 Posted in Features, Shows | No Comments »

December 29th, 2011

This Week Out Print: Sonic Liberation Front, Third Eye Blind, Electric Simcha, The Lawsuits, Levee Driver, and Mike Lorenz Quartet

Too much music happens in Philly to fit it all in print. Here’s a rundown of this week’s recommended concerts that didn’t make it onto the pages of the magazine.
Thursday, December 29: Free-jazz collective Sonic Liberation Front plays Tritone tonight. Expect over 10 of Philly’s finest sonic experimenters fiercely blowing horns, manically plucking strings and joyfully bashing big and small percussion. While you’re there, pick up a copy of the band’s 2011 release, SLF Meets Sunny Murray. It’s wild. (9pm. $?. With Alert New London. Tritone, 1508 South Street).

Friday, December 30: Remember Third Eye Blind? The San Fran outfit’s one of the best bands ever, and only because of “Semi-Charmed Life” and “Jumper.” Right? Those songs defined a generation. A generation that amped up on meth, rode mopeds, fucked recklessly and then wanted to kill themselves. Perfect. Hegelian? The crowd at this sucker’s gonna be…. special. Sociology students should go do some field research. Take notes. Take the hits that you’re given and then bump again and then bump again, etc. (8pm. $40. With U.S. Royalty. Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th Street).

Saturday, December 31: West Philly quartet Electric Simcha make rawkus party music that combines punk rage and traditional Hasidic music. DJs will spin before and after sets. Happy new year! (9pm. $5-10. Highwire Gallery, 2040 Frankford Avenue).

Sunday, January 1: It’s new year’s day. Instead of going out, getting drunk and tracking down a show (trust me, there aren’t m/any), stay home and work on your resolutions. Be a better person. Change everything. Love the one you’re with. Start by picking a theme song. Mine is “Ain’t With Being Broke” by Geto Boys. What’s yours?

Monday, January 2: The Lawsuits is a rock band and tonight the Bucks County kids play Kung Fu Necktie. I spun 2011’s Darleen’s Backside on Bandcamp, and am getting some very heavy Fleetwood Mac vibes. Could be fun. (8pm. $5. With Octopus Jones, Plastic Traps + Matt Spitko. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front Street).

Tuesday, January 3: Southern blues rock tonight over at KFN by Yardley’s Levee Drivers, along with opening sets by Philly songwriter/producer/composer Andrew Lipke and others. (8pm. $5. With Zach Zaitlin + Kevin Killen. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front Street).

Wednesday, January 4: Young Philly jazz guitarist/composer Mike Lorenz is bringing his quartet to Tritone. He released a tasty, sparkly record in early November called Of The Woods. It’s very autumnal and wintry. Fireside slow-burners. (9pm. $?. Tritone, 1508 South Street).

Thursday, December 29th, 2011 Posted in Features, Shows | No Comments »
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