Live Review: Cocaine Piss, Paris, France, Nov. 14, 2018

“They’re short,” Aurélie Poppins reassures the audience, in defense of her songs. “And sensual.”

Indeed, the band Poppins fronts, Belgium’s delightfully offensive Cocaine Piss, limits its performance to concise bursts of intense, sexy energy. With the finesse of a steamroller, set opener “Piñacolalove” expresses the anxiety of the first flush of lust. The thrashy “Treehouse” recounts, with the delicate touch of a 300-pound biker somersaulting down a flight of stairs, the revenge of a sexually conflicted girl.

From their titles alone, “Sex Weirdos,” “Incest” and “Pussy” require no exegesis.

Drawing on their tutelage under noise guru and engineer extraordinaire Steve Albini, the Pissers are highly skilled at such provocation, often flirting with the grotesque. The band squats that gritty space where Surfbort and early Bad Brains intersect. That’s a clumsy convergence, to be sure. But hardcore punk pays heed neither to subtlety nor to nuance.

And nor should it.

Poppins herself embodies this defiance of rules and propriety—qualities that define her gloriously anarchic quartet. Her shrill caterwauling recalls Japanoise siren Yasuko Onuki from Melt-Banana. She spends half of the gig pinballing through the pit and the other half face-planted on the stage. Her demeanor is both stand-offish and matronly.

But Poppins’ triumph is complete with the trashy burlesque of “Happiness.” Her interpretation captures the awkwardness and joy of self-pleasure. She tugs brusquely on her left tit and then, with a charming accent, coos jerkily “mas-tur-bah-syoh.”

So yeah, Cocaine Piss songs are short and sensual. Just like any good session of, uh, “happiness.”

—Eric Bensel

Iceage Rocks Brooklyn’s Elsewhere For Its Final U.S. Show Of Its Banner Year

Copenhagen’s finest (post-)punk-rock band plowed into Brooklyn’s Elsewhere for not only its second show in three nights in the Big Borough but also its final North American date of 2018. Iceage—fronted by madman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt—was supporting startlingly mature fourth album Beyondless (Matador). MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski risked life and limb at the foot of the stage to get these pain-killing pics.

#ThomYorkeTuesday: The Radiohead Frontman Flies Solo, Part 2 (New York City)

All month, Thom Yorke is touring North America in support of new album Suspiria (Music For The Luca Guadagnino Film) (XL). The Radiohead frontman kicked off the jaunt in MAGNET’s hometown of Philly at Franklin Music Hall and followed up a few nights later at Brooklyn’s King Theatre. MAGNET had photographers at both shows—Chris Sikich (Philly) and Wes Orshoski (NYC)—to make sure Yorke had everything in its right place. Here’s what happened in Brooklyn.

#ThomYorkeTuesday: The Radiohead Frontman Flies Solo, Part 1 (Philadelphia)

All month, Thom Yorke is touring North America in support of new album Suspiria (Music For The Luca Guadagnino Film) (XL). The Radiohead frontman kicked off the jaunt in MAGNET’s hometown of Philly at Franklin Music Hall and followed up a few nights later at Brooklyn’s King Theatre. MAGNET had photographers at both shows—Chris Sikich (Philly) and Wes Orshoski (NYC)—to make sure Yorke had everything in its right place. Here’s the Philly Special.

Thom Yorke brought some of his odd beats to Philadelphia on Black Friday to open his North American solo tour. Playing before a sold-out crowd at Franklin Music Hall, Yorke was in fine, loose form, delivering a soundtrack to the emotions just out of focus and underneath the skin in the best Yorkian way possible.

Despite recently doing the soundtrack for Luca Guadagnino’s reimagining of 1977 Italian film Suspiria, he and bandmates Nigel Godrich and Tarik Barri only performed one track from the soundtrack (“Unmade”), which ended the show. Yorke chose to stick to his other solo works like Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes and The Eraser. He floated between guitar and keys and mixing board with ease and joy, jumping and twirling onstage while Barri’s fluid images made a colorful backdrop that encouraged the crowd to loosen up to the ethereal sounds. Yorke’s supreme understanding of rock music as a progression of hip and head-shaking beats made the show one of pure aural and visual enjoyment. Tickets sold out quickly, and it would’ve been easy for Yorke to do a second sold-out date, but this night of elliptical sounds did just fine for now.

Oliver Coates opened with his avant-garde cello music. With piercing light stands surrounding his stark set-up, he was a great inner-ear warm-up for the night.

Indie Rock’s Best American Girl, Mitski Sets Off Fireworks In The City Of Brotherly Love

Mitski concludes her North American tour in support of Be The Cowboy (Dead Oceans) tonight at Brooklyn Steel with Arooj Aftab opening. Starting in late January, she’ll kick off dates in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Ms. Miyawaki recently played a sold-out, 23-song set at Philly’s Union Transfer, a show added after her previous gig there in October sold out immediately. (Both shows featured NYC duo Overcoats opening.) MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was at the second show and came away with a loving feeling and these images.

Overcoats
Overcoats

Supergroup I’m With Her Shows Philly Why We All Should Be With Them

This superstar super trio features Nickel Creek fiddler/guitarist Sara Watkins, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/guitarist Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O’Donovan (known for her stunning vocal work with Crooked Still and Sometymes Why). Debut See You Around shows off I’m With Her’s celestial harmonies, instrumental prowess and impressive songwriting. The women alternate lead vocals, but when their voices blend, moving from two-part to three-part harmonies, the music really takes off. The threesome brought all this and more to Philadelphia’s Union Transfer, playing a 17-song set that included covers of songs by Jim Croce (a Philly boy) and Bill Monroe. MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there to capture these girls on film.

The Blow Employs Its Energetic Strategies Right Here, Right Now

It’s a band! It’s performance art! It’s an installation! It’s sound and vision! It’s the Blow! Brooklyn-based Khaela Maricich and Melissa Dyne have taken their latest performance piece, “Energetic Strategies For Right Now,” on the road, and the dynamic duo hit Philly’s Johnny Brenda’s with Tucson sound collagist Karima Walker opening. MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there to get his mind blown.

Karima Walker

Live Review: Letters To Cleo, American Hi-Fi, Philadelphia, Nov. 14, 2018

At Philly’s Underground Arts, reunited ’90s rockers Letters To Cleo proved that the old stuff still sounds pretty great in the here and now. MAGNET’s M.J. Fine (words) and Chris Sikich (photos) agree Letters To Cleo is still a band wicked good enough to write home about.

It would’ve been enough to hear Kay Hanley sing “Here & Now,” Letters To Cleo’s biggest hit, to see if she could still spit out one of the best rapid-fire choruses in modern rock. (The answer: She sure can.) Instead, at their first Philadelphia show in 20-odd years, at Underground Arts, the reunited Boston band pulled off a thoroughly entertaining set that proved it’s got much more to offer than a single tongue-twisting take on existentialism.

In a career-spanning show that drew from its three mid-’90s albums—Aurora Gory Alice, Wholesale Meats And Fish and Go!—as well as 2016’s let’s-get-the-band-back-together EP, Back To Nebraska, Letters To Cleo ripped through nearly 20 songs in 75 minutes (including two separate rounds of “Happy Birthday” for bassist Joe Klompus). In the process, the band reversed Hanley’s bad mood, powered through Klompus’ technical issues and amply demonstrated that drummer Stacy Jones—who also served as the warmest of warm-up acts as American Hi-Fi’s frontman—has acres more energy than most dudes half his age.

Spunk, sass and strong chops carried the day, with second-string power-pop confections such as “Mellie’s Coming Over” and “Awake” and latter-day effort “4 Leaf Clover” sounding like forgotten gems that just needed a good polishing. Call it cocky, but Letters To Cleo’s shimmery originals stood tall alongside its punchy takes of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel To Be Kind” and Cheap Trick’s “I Want You To Want Me,” the two classic covers the band contributed to the 10 Things I Hate About You soundtrack in 1999.

American Hi-Fi

As for American Hi-Fi, early-aughts hits “Flavor Of The Weak” and “Another Perfect Day” were expertly executed exercises in mainstream pop/punk—not surprising considering Jones and lead guitarist Jamie Arentzen spend their downtime in Miley Cyrus’ band—but if the songs sounded generic and irritating on MTV back in the day, they sounded irresistibly catchy coming from the small, packed stage in the here and now.

Thurston Moore May Have Just Turned 60, But His New Noise Guitar Explorations Showcase His Eternal Sonic Youthfulness

The newly 60 years young Thurston Moore brought his New Noise Guitar Explorations to Philadelphia’s Ruba Club, playing extended compositions focusing on the 12-string electric guitar and special tunings. Moore was accompanied by Sonic Youth bandmate Steve Shelley on drums, My Bloody Valentine’s Deb Googe on baritone bass and Thurston Moore Group’s James Sedwards also on 12-string electric guitar. Though admission was 18 bucks, the music was free, and Moore and Co. tuned it up and brought the noise. MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich put in earplugs and took aim.

Welcome To The NYC Jungle: Australian Multi-Instrumentalist (And YouTube Smash) Tash Sultana Lands At Terminal 5

Given Tash Sultana identifies as nonbinary and prefers the pronouns “they” and “them,” it’s fitting the Australian multi-instrumentalist (emphasis on the “multi-“—they play 20 instruments) is literally a one-person band. Sultana was a massive YouTube sensation and festival-circuit regular based on bedroom-recording videos, one EP (2016’s Notion) and a handful of singles (all of which sold incredibly well down under), and now they’re riding on a wave of hype following the recent release of debut album Flow State (Mom + Pop). Sultana played two nights at Terminal 5 in NYC in support of Flow State, and MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there for the first show, looking for Sultana to free his mind so his camera would follow.