The Vaselines (Oct. 3, First Unitarian Church): Scottish noise-pop foursome the Vaselines existed for only a couple of years in the late ’80s, and probably would’ve remained a minor musical footnote if Kurt Cobain hadn’t declared them his favorite band ever and had Nirvana cover three of their songs. Two decades after splitting, the influential band is finally back with a terrific new album, the wry, weird, and catchy Sex With An X.
Semi-Precious Weapons (Oct. 5, North Star): If you’re going to spend two years as the opening act on Lady Gaga’s behemoth “Monster Ball” tour, you’d better be completely outrageous in your own right, and New York glam-rockers Semi-Precious Weapons are certainly that. Though he may not sport a meat bikini, flamboyant frontman Justin Tranter’s dirty-sex-drenched theatrics make Adam Lambert seem like Pat Boone, while his band’s swagger borrows liberally from the likes of T. Rex, AC/DC and Queen.
K’naan (Oct. 8, TLA): Acclaimed Somali/Canadian rapper/singer K’Naan’s gifted flow was inspired by both Eric B and Rakim and Bob Marley, and over sharp hip-hop beats and smooth R&B textures he delivers powerful, socially conscious lyrics demonstrating that the differences between the rough-and-tumble African and American streets are slight.
Pierced Arrows (Oct. 9, Kung Fu Necktie): Fred and Toody Cole recently retired their long-running, influential band Dead Moon. But the married couple, now in their 60s, are back with Pierced Arrows, a slightly bluesier but just as rippin’ version of Dead Moon’s righteous garage-punk.
Mary Gauthier (Oct. 12, Tin Angel): Given up for adoption. Teenage runaway. Junkie. Jail. Rehab. Cooking school. Successful restaurateur. Releases debut album at 35. Musical success. Mary Gauthier’s had an utterly fascinating life, and you’ll hear all about it in her dark, gripping folk-country songs.
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan (Oct. 14, Johnny Brenda’s): This generation’s answer to Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood, ex-Belle & Sebastian songbird Isobel Campbell and former Screaming Trees growler Mark Lanegan make moody magic together. Three tremendous collaborative albums in, this is their first U.S. tour together, and it promises to be hands-down one of the best shows of the year.
Kuf Knotz (Oct. 16, World Café Live): Philadelphia hip-hop mainstay Kuf Knotz’s terrific debut album BoomBox Logic—a paean to Golden Era beats and rhymes, updated with live instrumentation and Phillycentric soul—was a long time in the making, but tonight the rapper celebrates its release.
Cannibal Corpse (Nov. 20, Troc): Any band that manages to twist Bob Dole’s bowels into a knot is all right by us, and Buffalo death metal/grindcore outfit Cannibal Corpse has been terrifying Senators (Dole once said CC’s music “threatens to undermine our character as a nation”) and parents everywhere for more than 20 years. And has pulled in plenty of fans, too, with their brutal, extreme riffs and rhythms and ultraviolent (OK, really fuckin’ sick) imagery.
Powerhouse 2010 (Oct. 22, Wells Fargo Center): Time once again for Power 99’s annual Powerhouse blowout, featuring some of the bigger names in national and local hip-hop and R&B. This year’s lineup features humongo names like Drake, Ne-Yo and Rick Ross, but you should be especially excited for Grammy nominated Philly songbird Jazmine Sullivan and rising rapper Meek Millz.
Corin Tucker (Oct. 28, First Unitarian Church): Four years after the untimely demise of Sleater-Kinney, former singer/guitarist Corin Tucker returns to town behind a new album, 1,000 Years, on which she unleashes both her ferocious wail and slashing rock, and plenty of haunted acoustic numbers, too.
Jedi Mind Tricks/Freeway/Reef the Lost Cauze (Oct. 29, Troc): You really can’t go wrong with three of the best, most distinctive local hip-hop acts in one room on one night. Style-wise, Jedi, Free and Reef don’t have a ton in common, but the singular, eternal Philly clash of soul and struggle manifests itself in each.
Guided by Voices (Nov. 6, Troc): In the time it takes you to read this, Bob Pollard will have recorded and released three albums. Mr. Prolific has also managed to reunite the “classic ’93-’96 lineup” of his shambling, maddening, often exceptionally brilliant, and dormant-since-2004 Guided by Voices. They’ll draw primarily from Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes, and the people will go nuts.
Roger Waters (Nov. 8, 9, 11, Wells Fargo Center): Pink Floyd will likely never tour again, but bassist/vocalist Roger Waters is celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Wall—which was mainly his vision, anyway—with a massive spectacle of a show that merges the album’s original themes of isolation and alienation with current concerns about war, fanaticism and capitalism.
Brandon Flowers (Nov. 28, Electric Factory): The Killers emerged out of Vegas all shiny, neon and synthy several years back, but frontman Brandon Flowers soon left much of that behind and got his Springsteen (and his flannel and denim) on. That vibe continues on his first solo album, Flamingo, whose Boss-worshipping anthems are abetted by both country and New Wave textures. Could be a killer time. -Michael Alan Goldberg
Electric Factory 421 N. Seventh St. 215.627.1332 electricfactory.info
First Unitarian Church 2125 Chestnut St. 866.468.7619 r5productions.com
Johnny Brenda’s 1201 Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684 johnnybrendas.com
Kung Fu Necktie 1250 N. Front St. 215.291.4919 kungfunecktie.com
North Star Bar 27th and Poplar sts. 215.787.0488 northstarbar.com
Tin Angel 20 S. Second St. 215.928.0978 tinangel.com
TLA 334 South St. 215.922.1011 livenation.com
Trocadero 1003 Arch St. 215.922.6888 thetroc.com
Wells Fargo Center 3601 S. Broad St. 800.298.4200 wellsfargocenterphilly.com
World Cafe Live 3025 Walnut St. 215.222.1400 worldcafelive.com
Nerds at National Mechanics
The endearing eggheads from the Chemical Heritage Foundation continue their monthly formal-yet-informative Science on Tap lecture series at National Mechanics, a safe space for those who kind of miss going to chemistry class, but don’t miss the homework or enforced sobriety. Every second Monday, science lovers gather for drinking and thinking about dinosaurs, forensic science, creative zoology, the origins and evolution of beer and, of course, just plain old beer. The upcoming theme is “A Toast to Fixing the Sky,” (Oct. 11) on man’s attempts to control the vagaries of the natural world. From Native Americans offering dances for favorable weather to Bernard Vonnegut—who, as frequently noted in his brother Kurt’s books, discovered that seeding clouds with silver iodide produces precipitation—people have tried everything from prayer to technology to make weather work for them. Atmospheric scientist and historian James R. Fleming explores our technological relationship with the natural forces that have the power to sustain life or destroy civilization. He’ll lead a talk on how climate manipulation could help our rapidly warming globe. Weighty concepts indeed—best discussed with heady brew in hand. -Alexandra Jones
6pm. Free. National Mechanics, 22 S. Third St. 215.701.4883. nationalmechanics.com
Philly Pride busts open closet doors and takes it to the streets to mark National Coming Out Day. Loud, politically-charged, and glitter-spangled, OutFest (Oct. 10, phillypride.org) is an irrepressible, “Here and Queer!” celebration of sexuality and Philly’s incandescent bright LGBTQ culture—a coming-out party on a citywide scale. It’s also a typical street festival with a little Gayboorhood twist. Here, drag races run on pancake makeup and high heels, eating-contest competitors gobble down penis-shaped bagels and the dogs are dyed DayGlo colors. Vendors will be hawking rainbow gear, the thumpa thumpa will be pounding, and the politicians will be schmoozing. Whether you’re part of the acronym or an ally, it’ll be a sparkling good time—and a very beautiful day in the Gayborhood. -Lauren Smith
As the name implies, the first annual Philadelphia Film & Music Festival, or Philly F/M, (Sept. 23-26, phillyfmfest.com) intends to integrate the visual pleasures of independent film with the aural pleasures of independent music. And how shall this be accomplished? Over four days and 70 events (some free) at nearly three dozen venues around town, bands will play live as films are screened, sometimes crafting improvised scores; music-themed movies and documentaries will be shown both indoors and outdoors; a Phillycentric music video expo and a record fair will be held; and more. Scads of local and national bands (and films) are involved in Philly F/M—be sure to check out the official website for the full slate of events and locations. -Michael Alan Goldberg
“It’s disturbing,” remarks Stephen Quay, one half, along with identical twin Timothy, of the stop-motion animation duo the Quay Brothers. Be very afraid of what would disturb filmmakers whose creations include baby dolls with open heads (Street of Crocodiles), a razor-thin grotesque atop a tricycle (The Epic of Gilgamesh) and a twitchy-eyed beast with a tangled wire body (Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies).
So, what disturbs the Quays? For one, the Mütter Museum, our city’s (in)famous museum of anatomical and pathological specimens (they find the often-used term "medical oddities" to be imprecise) that include an 8-foot-long colon, a malignant tumor removed from Grover Cleveland, the shared liver of Siamese twins Chang and Eng and rows and rows of skulls and horrific gynecological instruments from the early days.
“A lot of these objects have a history,” Stephen says. Timothy continues: “In the old days, a guy would carve notches into his gun to show how many he’d killed. You’d say the same about a device that’s meant to perforate the skull of a child that has to be aborted. How many times has it done it? There are notches on it that we don’t see.”
“They’re deadly but they’re also beautiful,” Stephen says. “That’s what’s frightening.”
In August, the Quays were at the Mütter to film their latest short, commissioned by the museum and supported by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. Currently going by Anatomica Aesthetica , it will debut at the museum next year before visiting MoMA and Los Angeles’ Museum of Jurassic Technology.
The marriage between the Mütter and the stop-motion animators—who were born in Pleasant Valley, outside of Philadelphia, attended the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts) and have spent most of their lives in London—is, needless to say, ideal. Their dozens of shorts and features revel in the antiquated, the tossed-aside, the deformed. It’s no shock when the Quays repeatedly boast of their impressive collection of books on pathology and anatomy.
The museum has given them creative carte blanche, plus access to the vaults housing objects and books that are not, for whatever reason, available to the public. As we chat after a day’s shoot, they excitedly talk about an instrument that was inserted through a patient’s urethra. Once inside, the surgeon had 90 seconds to grab and crush a kidney stone, otherwise the patient would die.
But what fascinates them isn’t just the objects themselves. “We grew up around the work of Andrew Wyeth,” Stephen says. “We were fascinated by texture. It can be about using a macro closeup of an acorn or a pine cone.”
The Quays mention the word “story” once, and that they mention it at all is surprising—their films often work as pure abstraction. They foreground everything but narrative, creating a dialogue between, among other entities, image and music.
“The montage of film is choreography,” Stephen says. “And music assists as a choreographer. Just as in dance. You always choreograph to the music.” The scores are always written before production—the one for their Mütter film is by Tim Nelson, who visited the museum for inspiration—but not written for any specific action. No rules are given. They want to be “surprised.”
“There’s that potential that music can illuminate and create epiphanies and revelations. Usually voiceover does not give you an epiphany. Music does. Words establish order, and music establishes that sense of edginess and disorder that brings the spectator forward,” Stephen says.
Still, we shouldn’t use the word “nightmare”—or even “dreamlike”—to describe their moody, otherworldly films. “We don’t do dream sequences. Puppets aren’t about that. Not every puppet film is a dream,” Stephen says. “We’ve always liked something Robert Walser once wrote: ‘In between worlds, in between wakefulness and sleep.’ We think animation inhabits that beautifully.”
Stop-motion typically brings to mind painstaking preparation; think Aardman taking years to make a Wallace and Gromit entry from the tight storyboards. The Quays don’t rely so much on pre-planning, piecing their work together slowly, “inching forward millimeter by millimeter.”
The Quays are used to a more leisurely production period—say, a year locked away in a studio. For their Mütter film, they had 10 to 12 days and a tight budget. Even halfway through the shoot, they still weren’t sure exactly what direction it would take.
“We feel very natural working like that,” Stephen says. “We know by experience that the major discoveries will be made en route. It’s a process of discovery that will develop very slowly.”
“And,” adds Timothy, “it will develop by accident.” -Matt Prigge
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor