Live Music

Jay Reatard, Andrew Keller, Boom Nizzy, Magnetic Fields, Dungen, Ari Hoenig, Paul Bley, The Modern Skirts

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Jay Reatard

Mon., Oct. 27, 8pm. $10-$12. With Cola Freaks + Adam and Dave's Bloodline. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684.

Victory march percussion and manic singsong hooks ("She creeps me out/ She crept me in again") make Jay Reatard's two-minute ragers catchier than a genital wart at Bonnaroo. As a newly minted Matador darling, the seminal Memphis punk's going to get the youth riled up at a new round of shows with songs from Matador Singles 08, a marathon of piles and piles of fuzz thrown over polished power pop. Prolific as hell, Reatard is basically Ryan Adams with a much bigger set of balls. Anyone who watched the YouTube clip of him sailing a fist straight into the nose of a rogue audience guy will tell you to go, get your bobblehead chin-nod on, then chill the fuck out. (Tara Murtha)

Paul Bley

Sat., Oct. 25, 8pm. $25. With Richard Poole. International House, 3701 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619.

Like a rushing creek filled with eddies, whirlpools, hidden currents and the sudden, still pond, jazz pianist Paul Bley embraces space and silence alongside complex, dense compositions. A master of dynamics, tempo and improvisation, Bley has had plenty of time to perfect his craft. He cut his chops in the 1950s and '60s with jazz luminaries like Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins before becoming closely associated with the free and avant-garde movements. But just as you peg him as a minimalist, he'll suddenly turn into George Gershwin. His piano weaves a narrative of 1920s Paris, of romance, excitement and joie de vivre. But in a moment, he's moved on to a new motif and one can only guess what delights it might bring. (Katherine Silkaitis)

Boom Nizzy

Thurs., Oct. 23, 9pm. $5. Dowling's Palace, 1310 Thompson St. 215.236.9888.; Fri., Oct. 24, 7:30pm. Free. A-Space, 4722 Baltimore Ave. 215.727.0882.

Rapping since he was 12, West Philly native Boom Nizzy (aka Aaron Jones) is now of legal drinking age and hitting his stride with Da Ink Pen Best Friend, a mixtape much bigger, cleaner and glitzier than those preceding it. Likewise, Nizzy is smoother and more assured, spiking his long-developing flow with newfound speed and density. He remains keenly aware of his surroundings ("West Philly in Here") and open about his influences (he leisurely drawls over a slowed stretch of Wu-Tang's "C.R.E.A.M."), and sounds ready to graduate to a proper album. He's certainly had practice, ripping up two regular open mikes with such consistency that together they could comprise an open-ended Boom Nizzy residency. (Doug Wallen)

Ari Hoenig

Fri., Oct. 24 and Sat., Oct. 25, 8pm and 10pm. $15-$20. Chris' Jazz Cafe. 1421 Sansom St. 215.568.3131.

How many jazz drummers do you know who list both Bad Brains and Squarepusher as influences? Philadelphia's Ari Hoenig does, although the 34-year-old drummer doesn't bust out a rendition of "Pay to Cum" at his live shows. Hoenig began playing in public at 14 when he started hitting up haunts like Ortlieb's Jazz Haus. Nowadays, whether he's playing solo or with his trio, as at Chris', Hoenig's drumming alternates between understated, wispy cymbal rolls and spastic drum beats--all done with enjoyment, passion and a wry sideways glance. (K.S.)

The Magnetic Fields

Sat., Oct. 25, 8pm. $32-$36. Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St. 215.336.1234.

The Merriam has a history of musical theater, so it makes sense the Magnetic Fields are there this week. In Stephin Merritt's most recent online appearance he sings a (terrible) version of Fred Astaire's classic "Cheek to Cheek" from Top Hat. This Merriam date is part of a teeny 11-city tour, during which, depending on who you talk to, Merritt has been cranky, gothic or sedate. If you know his music, none of those descriptors will surprise you; they fit his Oscar-Wilde-on-ludes persona. This time Merritt and co. are playing tunes from the new album Distortion, but also plenty of old favorites. Pianist Claudia Ronson is along, as are Sam Davol on cello, John Woo on acoustic guitar and vocalist Shirley Simms, who could do a kick-ass version of "Cheek to Cheek," if given the chance. (Liz Spikol)

Andrew Keller

Thurs., Oct. 23, 7pm. $5. With Midwest Dilemma, the Great Unknown + Birdie Busch. Green Line Cafe, 4239 Baltimore Ave. 215.222.3431.

Not content simply to lead the jittery local act Hermit Thrushes, who are so memorably color-coded and snarky when playing live, Andrew Keller finds the time to go the solo route under his own name. His 13-song debut Baby Bird is a fitting sibling to Hermit Thrushes' Benaki, each plying a crooked strain of indie pop that's as whimsical as it is precise. Twisting soft-sung folk tableaus into hypnotic tangents, Keller's studied songwriting should appeal to fans of the Notwist and the Sea & Cake. He's also plenty charismatic, whether bouncing around the stage with a full band or leaning over a nylon-string guitar all on his lonesome. (D.W.)


Tues., Oct. 28, 9pm. $13. With Headdress. Johnny Brenda's, 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684.

Once upon a time young violin-playing Swede Gustav Estjes sat in his room listening to weird folk music, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and obscure Scandinavian psych-rock bands wishing he could make sounds like that all by himself. So in addition to the violin, he learned to play the guitar, drums, flute, keyboards and virtually every other instrument known to man, and in his early 20s founded Dungen, which sounds like the best late-'60s acid-psych-rock jams ever crossed with Swedish porn soundtracks. Essentially a one-man band in the studio, Dungen expands to a blistering four-man ensemble in the live setting, where Estjes' psychedelic dreams really do come true. (Michael Alan Goldberg)

The Modern Skirts

Sun., Oct. 26, 8pm. $10. With the Ugly Suits. North Star, 27th and Poplar sts.

It's clothing night at the North Star--the Modern Skirts playing with the Ugly Suits. The Skirts are from Athens, Ga., which makes critics say they have a lot of expectations to fulfill. Maybe 15 years ago, but these days a band like the Skirts are happy to sound more like those Liverpool lads than R.E.M. Working a serious Kings of Convenience heavy-on-harmonies vibe, the band's melodies are sweet, and so are the lyrics, all about girls and breakups and stuff--and maybe it's all too sugary, too jangly, too verse-chorus-verse, too chipper, too poppy, too predictable. But hey, don't let that spoil your fun. Maybe you're in the mood for some Ben Folds/Capitol Years action, with cute boys and danceable tunes. Good for you. (L.S.)

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