In Philadelphia, Metallica Proves Once Again It’s Some Kind Of Live Monster

Metallica brought its WorldWired tour to MAGNET’s hometown of Philly, and it had a couple of Brotherly Love connections. The show was the last of the 50th birthday concerts by WMMR, a local classic-rock radio station instrumental in launching the career of the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. The band’s All Within My Hands Foundation donated $10,000 to Philabundance, an organization that helps feed Philadelphians in need. After comedian Jim Breuer warmed up the crowd, Metallica came out and played an 18-song, in-the-round set consisting of material dating all the way back to debut Kill Em All, which turned 35 this summer. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there to ride the lightning and get these great shots.

Dirty Perry Rides Again: Dub/Reggae Pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry Brings His “Blackboard Jungle” To Bushwick

82-year-young Lee “Scratch” Perry, backed by Subatomic Sound System, is celebrating the 45th anniversary of his classic, dub-pioneering Blackboard Jungle this year with a globetrotting tour. The OG/OD icon mesmerized the crowd at Brooklyn’s Elsewhere, playing the seminal album live in its entirety for the first time. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski came away with these great shots and an incurable case of jungle fever.

Live Review: Meshell Ndegeocello, Wilmington, DE, Oct. 21, 2018

Even in the dark, Meshell Ndegeocello can shine a brilliant light on her own songs as well as those of others. MAGNET’s M.J. Fine (words) and Chris Sikich (photos) feel the spirit magic

Even if you couldn’t see Meshell Ndegeocello—barely lit, clad in black and spending as much time as possible far from the front of the stage at The Queen—it would’ve been impossible to mistake her for anyone else. It’s not just her inimitable voice, by turns husky, sultry and matter-of-fact, or her funky, probing bass lines. A singular artist who moves freely between serving as a celebrity bassist for hire, composing audacious material herself and interpreting other songwriters’ work, Ndegeocello has a way of making everything she touches her own.

It’s the last of these three callings that brought her to Wilmington on a recent Sunday night. With several songs drawn from Ventriloquism, the album of expertly curated and exquisitely executed covers of ‘80s and ‘90s pop and R&B hits that she released earlier this year, and a few others drawn from her 2012 tribute to Nina Simone, Ndegeocello uncovered new facets of familiar songs. Stripping away the dance-floor flirtation, Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam’s “I Wonder If I Take You Home” gave way to calculations of regret, while Al B. Sure!’s slow jam “Nite And Day” became a meditation on obsession. Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” felt both gossamer and grounded, and George Clinton’s funk classic “Atomic Dog” presented a welcome excuse for Ndgeocello and her band to jam.

As often as the singer shunned even The Queen’s minimal lights to sidle over to drummer Abraham Rounds or turned her back on the crowd completely to commune with guitarist Chris Bruce, she addressed the room with genuine warmth whenever she spoke.

With so much of the set devoted to music that had inspired her in one way or another, Ndegeocello barely touched her own considerable body of work. Exceptions included an early-set pairing of “Wasted Time” and “Grace,” the last two tracks on 1999’s Bitter, which proved worthy of being bookended by “See-Line Woman” and “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” songs associated with the iconic Simone.

And by the time the show wrapped up with a thoughtful rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” it truly ceased to matter which numbers have been canonized and which are considered guilty pleasures. Ndegeocello and her band brought out the magic in each one, ignoring artificial genre boundaries and underscoring their tender edges, their vulnerable core, their common humanity. In the dark, all songs were holy.

Leaving A Trace: CHVRCHES And Lo Moon Electrify The City Of Brotherly Love

CHVRCHES has been on tour pretty much non-stop since the May 25 release of third album Love Is Dead (Glassnote). But if the Scottish trio—Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty—is worn down from such a grueling schedule, they showed absolutely no sign of it at their stop in Philadelphia, playing a ferocious 18-song set at the Franklin Music Hall (known until the day before CHVRCHES’ show as the Electric Factory).

L.A.-based Lo Moon, whose self-titled debut came out earlier this year via Columbia, opened the show with a seven-song set capped off by the epic “Loveless.”

MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there, and he was feeling nothing but (album and song titles to the contrary) love.

All In The Family: Mom + Pop Music Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary With Courtney Barnett, Sleigh Bells, Tom Morello, Neon Indian And More

Given the résumés of the three founders of Mom + Pop Music (managing the likes of Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse, signing Rage Against The Machine, Buckcherry and Against Me!, to name only a few), it’s not surprising what the NYC-based indie label has accomplished in just 10 years. But navigating the intersection of art and commerce is extremely difficult for any upstart, and Mom + Pop has seemingly done it very well, releasing records by Courtney Barnett, Sleigh Bells, Tom Morello, Neon Indian and more. Those four artists, plus Alice Merton and Sunflower Bean, joined forces at Brooklyn Steel to celebrate the label’s decade anniversary, and MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there to document this family reunion.

Live Review: Tank And The Bangas, Naughty Professor, Big Freedia, Philadelphia, Oct. 20, 2018

Tank And The Bangas, Tank And The Bangas, Naughty Professor and Big Freedia brought New Orleans to Philly, and MAGNET’s M.J. Fine (words) and Chris Sikich (photos) climbed aboard the panda express

By the time the two pandas took the stage on a Saturday night in Philadelphia to herald the imminent appearance of Tank And The Bangas, the vibe at the TLA felt a lot more like a party than a concert. Maybe more like a Wednesday-night party by New Orleans standards (you’d have to ask the performers about that), but for Philadelphians in the crowd, Saturday night felt like we’ve always heard Saturday night should feel—the part just before the weekend’s joyful abandon gives way to morning-after ruminations and the Sunday-morning reckoning that seems to come so naturally to musicians who come from a city that celebrates lasciviousness and piety with equal fervor.

With an audience primed by Naughty Professor’s jazz-funk instrumentals and Big Freedia’s heated bounce set, which featured slick dance moves from the three pros accompanying her on tour and mass twerking from enthusiastic volunteers, the pandas were a momentary curiosity—what do pandas have to do with the Big Easy? But once they removed their heads and revealed themselves as backing singers in Tarriona “Tank” Ball’s nine-piece band, all made sense.

And then Ball opened her mouth, and it was all about the sound, that rich mix of soul, rock ‘n’ roll, funk, hip hop and poetry that Tank And The Bangas play with such exuberance. Ball shifts from one mode to another so fast you can’t see it coming, totally transforming her voice from one verse to the next, from speedy and silly to slow and sad, from bruised to blissed out. It’s not a party trick, but it’s all the reason you need to show up to the party.

Naughty Professor
Big Freedia

Big Thief Steals The Hearts Of Brooklynites With A Sold-Out Hometown Show

Sure the two criminal masterminds in Big Thief released solo albums this year (Adrianne Lenker’s abysskiss this month, Buck Meek’s self-titled debut in May) and have live dates lined up shortly, but this band of Brooklyn bandits just kicked off a short East Coast tour with a hometown show at Brooklyn Steal, er, Steel. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was part of the capacity crowd witnessing this masterpiece of a set, taking these awesome images.

Live Review: Philip Glass Ensemble, New York City, Oct. 27, 2018

The Philip Glass Ensemble performed the composer’s minimalist-milestone piece at NYC’s Town Hall, where Glass debuted it 44 years ago. MAGNET’s Mitch Myers enjoyed all four-plus hours (plus three intermissions) of it immensely. Photos by Sachyn Mital

It was a bold move, the Town Hall presenting a marathon production of the Philip Glass Ensemble performing Music In Twelve Parts, an ambitious minimalist composition Glass first unveiled at the landmark New York City venue back in 1974. With the Saturday-night program of more than four hours of music, it was deemed there would be three intermissions, including a long dinner break. Considering that Glass himself is now 81, the intermissions made sense from a logistical standpoint, as performing Music In Twelve Parts requires the utmost precision and concentration, as well as endurance.

When Glass first debuted Music In Twelve Parts, he was still moonlighting as a cab driver and minimalism was finding some favor within avant-garde communities. Having studied an impressive range of neo-modern and classical composers as well as the Indian ragas of Ravi Shankar and others, Glass began to embrace long, repetitive lines of melody that only changed most subtly over time. Stripping away all pretense of orchestral intent, his small ensemble relied on three electric organs, flutes, reeds and one female voice. Distinguishing him from minimalist influences like La Monte Young and Terry Riley as well as from peers like Steve Reich, Music In Twelve Parts was Glass’ last and most grand minimalist gesture. From then on it was onward and upward, with Glass incorporating other styles and contexts to great acclaim.

But here it was, the monolithic composition once again performed by the composer, who evidently decided to get the band back together one more time. The thing about extended performances like this is that they require equal commitment from the audience, which can result in a hypnotic, exhilarating experience. Or not. The music can easily be experienced as oppressive, relentless or, worse yet, boring. The main thing is that time (for the listener) becomes relative—it can expand or contract, or even feel like it has stopped. So much is going on musically and at the same time not much is happening at all, and you have to get your head in the right place in order to tune in for the long haul. You dig?

In any case, this amazing piece of music unfolded as planned, and it was as challenging and rewarding as ever. Word has it Glass played the exact same Farfisa organ that he used at the ’74 debut. Certainly, credit does not have to go to only Glass, but to his veteran music director Michael Riesman (keyboard), Mick Rossi (keyboard), Andrew Sterman (flute, soprano sax), Peter Hess (alto and tenor sax), Jon Gibson (flute, soprano sax) and vocalist Lisa Bielawa—as well onstage audio engineer Ryan Kelly and live sound mixer Dan Bora.

And did this five-hour minimalist extravaganza end too quickly?

The short answer is yes.

—Mitch Myers

Four Aces: Kimya Dawson, AJJ, Shellshag And Rozwell Kid Rock Philly

A great quadruple bill is something to savor and appreciate. In all honestly, they don’t happen as much as they once did, back when we used to walk to rock clubs uphill both ways in the snow, barefoot, and the legal drinking age was 57 so we would need to sneak in the back door and do as many hard drugs as possible before the show started. (OK, we’re exaggerating; we did own sandals.)

Anyway, our hometown just had an awesome quadruple bill at Union Transfer when co-headliners Kimya Dawson and AJJ and openers Shellshag and Rozwell Kid hit the City Of Brotherly Love And Sisterly Affection on this amazing fall tour. MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there to join in this indie-punk four play.

Kimya Dawson

AJJ

Shellshag

Rozwell Kid