Sir Babygirl threw an exhilarating electropop/punk party at Philly’s Boot & Saddle, and you were invited. Hearing songs off Crush On Me (Father/Daughter), the debut album from Brooklyn-based Kelsie Hogue, put the crowd in a frenzy, leading to a dance party onstage for the whole show. Hogue is a versatile performer who rocked the guitar, sampled other artists in inventive ways between songs and delivered great banter. And in a preshow fitting with MAGNET for her SXSW outfit, Hogue showed a sense of how she’ll take over the music world one crush at a time. Sunspeaker—also from Brooklyn—opened with an entertaining blast of synths and vibes.
Liverpool It duo Her’s is winding down its U.S. tour this week, and we were lucky enough to catch the off-kilter pop duo play to a packed house at Philly’s Johnny Brenda’s. Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading—along with spiritual guide Pierce Brosnan, who seemed a little stiff during the set—are supporting their debut album, last year’s Invitation To Her’s. Fellow punctuation-appreciating Spencer. opened the show, and MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich says both acts put on shows not to be missed if you know what’s right.
Last week at Philly’s Johnny Brenda’s, the punk rock of the Flesh Eaters swallowed the sold-out crowd whole. The mythical Los Angeles dream team of frontman Chris D., Dave Alvin and Bill Bateman (both from the Blasters), John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake (both of X) and Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) filled the stage to the brim with sweaty hellfire rock for the ages.
Touring behind this year’s I Used To Be Pretty (Yep Roc), the first release from this lineup since 1981’s A Minute To Pray, A Second To Die, the Flesh Eaters were a glorious sight to behold. Alvin’s blistering guitar solos—matched with Doe’s bass lines and Berlin’s sax—made for a heady mix of jazz-ish punk to accompany Chris D.’s evocative lyrics. Add to that Bonebrake’s marimba and Bateman’s drums, and it’s a propulsive sound like no other for a show that may never be replicated again.
Minnesota’s Porcupine—featuring Hüsker Dü’s Greg Norton—opened with a super-charged rock set of its own. Norton’s bass (and stage moves), Casey Virock’s gut-punch vocals and Ian Prince’s crushing drums were a sublime start to the night.
Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir is on tour now with new trio Wolf Bros featuring Don Was (Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop) on bass and Jay Lane (Primus, RatDog, Furthur) on drums. The veteran threesome is playing a combination of songs by the Dead (and its extended family) in addition to covers of tracks by the likes of Dylan, the Beatles, Kris Kristofferson, Little Feat, Daniel Lanois and more. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was at the first of two nights at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, N.J., to witness these anthems of the sun.
In the early ’90s, the Pixies were in the midst of their first wave of band mutilation when Weezer was just coming out of the garage. Since, both groups have dealt with lineup changes, hiatuses, substance-abuse issues and all the other stuff that career rockers experience over their journeys on this planet of sound. But it’s 2019, people, and these days, Weezer and the Pixies just want to rock, realizing that if they do, everything will be all right in the end. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski joined Hurley and Indie Cindy in the Madison Square Garden pit to get these hot shots.
Robyn, whose sixth LP Honey was our number 14 album of last year and is by far the best work of her career, brought the house down at Madison Square Garden. Over the course of 100 minutes (including two encores), Ms. Carlsson played all but one song off her latest record—plus the hits and some surprises—for the sold-out crowd. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski can attest to the fact that Robyn knows what it takes to completely memorize nearly 20,000 people.
In the past, when we’ve been invited to the red carpet, it usually involved our third cousin, a 12-pack of wine coolers and the back of a rockin’ van. But when MAGNET was allowed access to Love Rocks NYC 2019’s red carpet last week, we sent photographer Wes Orshoski to shoot the stars: Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow, Lukas Nelson, Hozier, Heart and Billy F Gibbons.
Love Rocks NYC 2019 hit the Beacon Theatre last week, benefiting God’s Love We Deliver, which provides meals and nutrition counseling to people living with severe illness in the New York metropolitan area. As you can see, it was a night of whole lotta love, featuring the likes of Robert Plant, Sheryl Crow, Heart, Billy F Gibbons, Bernie Williams, Hozier, Buddy Guy, Grace Potter, Taj Mahal and Lukas Nelson, plus Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Martin Short. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was seeing stars.
Before the Chicago Stock Exchange building came down in the ’70s, preservationists disassembled its trading room and rebuilt it inside the Art Institute of Chicago. This monument to a bygone era of robber-baron capitalism made a curious place to experience two ensembles that measure success according to creative—or even cosmic—metrics rather than commercial ones. But both Body/Head and Joshua Abrams’ Natural Information Society prevailed, and MAGNET writer Bill Meyer and photographer Julia Dratel were there to bear witness.
If you need someone to put ballast and swing in your groove, Joshua Abrams is your man. He’s lent his bass presence to Prefuse 73, Sam Prekop, the Roots and countless jazz ensembles, but he puts the instrument aside when he takes the helm of the Natural Information Society. Abrams plays the guimbri, a Moroccan bass lute that can articulate a melodic lead while holding down the rhythm and is traditionally used in healing ceremonies. The variably sized NIS combines that beneficent imperative with elements of jazz and krautrock.
Abrams, harmonium player Lisa Alvarado, bass clarinetist Jason Stein and drummer Mikel Patrick Avery played just one piece, “Finite,” which covers two sides of the group’s forthcoming double LP, Mandatory Reality (Eremite). Abrams and Stein played intersecting figures reminiscent of the theme from Don Cherry’s “Brown Rice” over a squeezebox drone, inviting the audience to lose themselves in a trance state. But their appeal wasn’t purely cosmic; while the rest of the band played music that breathed like a living thing, Avery laid down a stiffer rhythm that split the difference between Can’s minimalist beats and straight-up disco. If you weren’t nodding, you were grooving.
Body/Head is guitarists Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and Bill Nace (free-agent collaborator with Chris Corsano, Paul Flaherty, Twig Harper and many more). Playing in front of a film screen, the duo blurred the boundaries between structured song and open-ended improvisation while comporting themselves with a grace that drew a few new lines between rock-star iconography and martial arts grace.
Each rocked back and forth, their movements corresponding to the waves of thick, distorted sound they drew out of their instruments while a slowed-down projection of the beach scene from Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye added another layer motion. Gordon’s voice plunged down a long tunnel of reverb, her distorted phrases leaving literal meaning behind to swim in the music’s tidal pull.
Whether stretching toward the microphone or bowing toward the amplifiers, Gordon’s movements were sonically essential, but also engaged in a dialectical exchange with decades of rock heroics. At one point, she stood on top of her amp, carefully swinging her guitar in circular motions that added yet more churn to the maelstrom.
In decades past, the chaos enacted in this room created and wiped out fortunes. Tonight, Natural Information Society and Body/Head offered two roads to transcendence.
The Beths’ Future Me Hates Me (Carpark) was one of those out-of-nowhere surprises that reminds you why you love music in the first place. The New Zealand indie-pop band’s debut was our number-two album of last year, and the quartet is on tour now supporting the LP. The Beths just stopped at Philly’s First Unitarian Church with Bad Bad Hats and Sieve, and MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there and reminded why the present him loves this band.