WKDU Presents: Vundabar @ Philamoca

Words and photos by WKDU guest writer Madison Kierod

Vundabar brought Philly out of hibernation on Tuesday, March 6th with their sold-out show at PhilaMOCA. Devoted fans had been awaiting their return to the City of Brotherly Love since their show at the First Unitarian Church with The Frights and Hockey dad this past November. This time, the Boston punk/surf/math rockers headlined the show with support from Chicago-natives Ratboys, and D.C. indie rock duo, The Obsessives. The intimate venue was decorated with paintings and prints from local artists, allowing the performance to become tailored and personal for Philly fans.

The band jumped right in with their upbeat new single, “Acetone” off of their 2017 record Smell Smoke, and, after some dramatic pauses and heckling from the audience, continued the show with fan-favorite “Chop” from their second studio album Gawk. This single particularly showcases the band’s ability merge catchy vocal melodies with crunchy guitar tones, and incorporate tempo changes from Grayson Kirtland’s groovy bass lines to Drew McDonald’s quick, almost frantic drum solos. The progression was inherently entertaining to watch and the urge to dance was hard to resist.

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Consistent with the name of their first studio album, their show was certainly filled with Antics. Their fun, high-energy tunes kept the audience jumping, and lead singer Brandon Hagan’s commentary between sets kept them laughing with cheeky rants promoting their band, asking for food, and asking silly, rhetorical questions such as “what do you sound like when you sweat?”. His witty sense of humor even kept the audience entertained while dealing with some noise interference mid-show, as the band had to overcome what Brandon described as “the crickly-crackly.”

Part of Vundabar’s charm is in their unpredictability, their improvisational dance moves, facial expressions, and vocal runs while jamming and soloing mid-song. No track shows this better than “$$$”, where the band took a 2-minute detour to exchange solos just to build up to a clean and abrupt end to the song.

The songs off of their newest album Smell Smoke such as “Diver” have a slower vibe, and were aptly placed in the middle of their set This left room for extra-long, extra-loud, extra-crunchy renditions of one of their more mosh-able tunes “Alien Blues” and “Voodoo” for last.

Overall, Vundabar’s set was tight and precise, yet natural and energetic–a difficult balance that their fan base acknowledges and appreciates. The band’s animated stage presence emanated into the audience, and kept the whole crowd moving (and laughing) for their entire hour-long set. The fun-loving band was exactly what the audience needed to get out of our houses on that cold and soggy Tuesday. Without a doubt, Vundabar fans will be anxiously awaiting their return to the east coast.

 

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OSHUN in West Philly

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Photo via Oshuniverse.com

On Saturday the thirteenth of January , Niambi and Thandiwe Sala and producer/DJ, Proda, walked in succession down the back stairs of a West Philly basement, to the front of an eager crowd. like foreign envoys Back in 2015 in an interview with Complex, the two explained that Oshun is the Yoruban deity after whom the project is named. “A West African, traditional deity, she’s a goddess, and she governs over sweet waters.” She’s a mother of love, fertility, wealth and diplomacy”.

Their presence expressed this vividly. From the time they walked towards the stage, until they took photos and thanked their fans after the conclusion, the air was full of love. Afrofuturism stands as the core value and inspiration for the group’s art. In fact, “love for [their] people and for serving and enlightening their people” is what brought the two together, when they first formed Oshun back in the freshman dorms at NYU. On Saturday these philosophies spread through the venue like a spell. In an audience comprised of primarily black/brown persons, the occasion was best described by Oshun themselves; a celebration.

The two wore matching camo jumpsuits, bronze crowns, and bronze tops which swirled over their bodies in winding patterns. Once the “takeoff sound” (a glittery, space-sound like something that would come from The Powerpuff Girls) was played, the beginning of a collective voyage into the “Oshuniverse” began. They began with a few track off of their upcoming series Bittersweet, before moving to songs from AFAHYE and ASASE YAA. With “Parts”, the two wielded a kind of sweet but powerful energy throughout the crowd. From the delicate emotional depths of Sango, to more energetic and beat driven tracks like “Blessings on Blessings”, they proved that every track in the discography is drenched in meaning. Their defiance and strength was expressed through sweetness and love; a testament to the paradoxical spectrum of a narrative which is too often flattened in our society.

With standout tracks like “Not my President”, both showcased their gifts for vocal improve, sounding better, and hitting runs more impressive than those than their recordings. The track included metal-inspired guitar riffs to replace the more jazz-like trumpet solo featured at the end of the original recording. As many genres as Oshun fits together in their music, producer Proda managed spread this idea throughout the set to add more energy to the performance.

Now that Niambi and Thandiwe are graduated from school, they have been able to create their album series Bittersweet, and embark on a two-month tour throughout Canada and the United States. A sort of Neosoul/Hip-Hop infusion, their music draws heavily on reggae, and multiplicitous forms of traditional African/root music. Mixing these sounds with progressive production and otherworldly sound effects/design, the Oshun’s art ends up somewhat like an enormously expensive musical history lesson/divination session. The two frequently express the spiritual nature of their goals and purpose in interviews and press. At their West Philly performance on Saturday they brought a message of peace and healing to a well deserving crowd.

Punk Turns 40: The Buzzcocks at TLA

Maren Larsen

If the Buzzcocks were a person, that person would be right on schedule to hit its midlife crisis. It might buy a shiny car or quit its job and burn all its ties. Or maybe it would go on an international tour for its 40th birthday, just to prove it can still rock and rage.

Their most recent album, The Way, which premiered in May of 2014, contains “People Are Strange Machines”: a tune I would rate in their top ten. The opening track, “Keep On Believing,” has the kind of restless, unstoppable energy that only a bunch of perpetually angry, aging British punks could muster.

The Buzzcocks will be playing at Theater of the Living Arts Friday September 30, presented by yours truly and your fellow punks from WKDU. It’s a good venue for loud noise, and despite several rotations of band members and various breakups and reunions over the years, the Buzzcocks haven’t lost their good vibrations. I hope to see you there.

7 Reasons to Get Up and Go the New Alternative Music Festival

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The New Alternative Music Festival (NAMF) is September 16-18 in Asbury Park, NJ. Running by Don Giovanni Records, NAMF is a one-time event meant to be an alternative to the obstacles and backwards thinking presented the music industry. The result is a diverse lineup spread across three days, with no overlapping set times.  It’s one of the most significant musical events of the past several of years. Continue reading “7 Reasons to Get Up and Go the New Alternative Music Festival”

Extreme Heaviness: Gojira Slays the E-Factory This Thursday

Hailing from Bayonne, France, Gojira have been busy laying waste to Japanese cities and casual listeners the world over for the past 16 years and will do the same to the E-Factory Sept 22nd.

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— By Jon Galuchie

Hailing from Bayonne, France, Gojira have been busy laying waste to Japanese cities and casual listeners of the world over for the past 16 years (check out crowd-favorite “The Heaviest Matter Of The Universe”).   Their trademark blend of metal is captivating, fierce, and ultimately comes out head and shoulders above the other bands in the pit with a sound all their own.  When it comes to the live show, the energy is felt through the crowd and each song has undeniable heft.  I had the pleasure of catching them when they toured in support of the mighty Mastodon and (if I’m being honest) they stole the show.  The audience and the band were on the same page and there was all the headbanging and moshpits that a metalhead could ask for.

 

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They recently released their new album Magma on back in June on Roadrunner Records.  Check out the newest single “Silvera” and get back to me.  It showcases the band honing in on their unique songwriting and masterful song structure and development–all in less than four minutes.

 Gojira will be stopping by to slay the Electric Factory with support from Tesseract on September 22.  Highly recommended show.

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard play Underground Arts this Sunday

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Still from “The River” music video

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard shows are sacred experiences. And if you’ve yet to attend one, now’s your chance. The seven of them will play Underground Arts on Sunday night (5/15/16) in support of their new album Nonagon Infinity– an album intended to be played in a continuous loop. Probably one of the most unpredictable bands out there right now, King Gizzard treats each album as its own conceptual piece. On Nonagon Infinity, each song flows into the next, including the last track back into the first, creating a never-ending circle of psych.

Accompanying them will be Philly’s own Mercury Girls and Melbourne’s The Murlocs.

While consisting of members of King Gizz, The Murlocs have a bit more of a melodic, folk-rock grounding. Stu Mackenzie (lead guitar/vocals of King Gizz) produced their latest album and second full length LP, released this March on Flightless Records and titled Young Blindness.

Mercury Girls (members of Literature and Little Big League) perfect a jangly pop-meets-shoe gaze sound, and are touring in support of their new 7″ and a split EP with Spook School, Tigercats and Wildhoney.

WKDU will present the show on Sunday (after the Punk Rock Flea Market), so come say hello, check out our merch and pick up one of our free zines!**

Watch videos for King Gizzard’s “Gamma Knife” and The Murlocs’ “Unknown Disease,” and stream Mercury Girls’ new single, “Ariana,” below.

 

**While supplies last Continue reading “King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard play Underground Arts this Sunday”