Sonic Youth

The Fire launches a lineup guaranteed to kick the winter blues.

By Doug Wallen
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Feb. 8, 2006

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Doin' it for the kids: Sam Champion prepare to light up the Fire.

Like a mini South by Southwest, the options crammed into the Fire's annual Northern Liberties Winter Music Fest can be overwhelming. Spanning eight wildly differing lineups this year, the event remains a noble means for swapping your seasonal blues for a gut-warming parade of booze and bands. It's also a colorful juggling of local and out-of-town bands of all genres, with three all-ages shows and four CD releases to boot.

The opening night spotlights Sam Champion, a nifty New York band that sounds a whole lot like Pavement gone country (yes, they're that good). They're doing a month-long Tuesday residency at the Fire, and this night they'll be supported by Lincoln Conspiracy's piano-pounding power-pop and a solo set by Townhall's George Stanford.

In the opposite direction, the second night is a triple bill of sharp Minneapolis hip-hop, with P.O.S., Mac Lethal and Doomtree representing the same scene that sprung Atmosphere and Brother Ali.

Also in the middle of a month-long Fire residency are Nouveau Riche formerly known as the Disease. Fronted by Dice Raw, who's guest-rapped on Roots records, the quintet typify the recent slew of spidery indie rock/ hip-hop hybrids. Supporting the band for the entire residency are the glitchy, girl-sung East Hundred and Kevin Hanson's folky outfit the Fractals.

Fusing disparate genres with punky abandon, Stiffed fittingly headline the festival's most schizophrenic lineup. Skeptical? Just try to reconcile North Star Infinite's screamy math-core and Bumrunner's slippery prog-pop with Chromelodeon's instrumental symphonies (which often rework old Nintendo tunes) and Dahlgren's wiry '80s-informed musings.

Friday's earlier show brings punk to the forefront with Procession Came Opposite, the Commercials, Underwater Ally and Sincerely Monroe, all earnestly melodic and none a stranger to the all-ages circuit.

The later show finds Northern Liberties' multiculti trip-hop troupe Bebek unveiling songs from their new EP, a follow-up to last year's self-titled album. Support comes from five sources, including the reggae-tinged Dialects and Taylor McFerrin's jazzy hip-hop.

The Creep/Blackout! Records band the Danger O's, whose members are so photogenic they already have a music video stocked with screaming female fans, headline Saturday's earlier show with support from the slyly named US Funk Team, a band that sounds like early Modest Mouse in all the right ways.

Closing out the festival is one of Philly's best live bands, the Teeth, who are bringing along their recent tourmates Illinois. The all-local bill is rounded out by the dreamy Blood Feathers (ex-Aspera), a newly garagey This Radiant Boy, the country-kicked Cowmuddy and the psych-folk longhair Kurt Vile.

If you've ever seen the Teeth throw down, you know there's simply no topping it. But won't it be awesome to sit back and watch 32 different acts try to do the same?

Northern Liberties Winter Music Fest
Tues., Feb. 14, 9pm. $5-$8. Through Feb. 18. The Fire, 412 W. Girard Ave. 267.671.9298.

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