Branching out to all things good.
Sludge greats High on Fire are landing in NYC the Friday between Christmas and New Year’s.
While there’s nonstop drama and some actual physical violence in Nazmiye and Havva Oral’s No Longer Without You, a searing mother-daughter conflict currently in its US debut run at the French Institute/Alliance Française, its most serious fireworks are only alluded to. We don’t get more than a mention of the abortion, or passing references to the screaming matches and literal tug-of-war between religious Muslim mother and her willful daughter determined to escape the confines of what she feels is an antedeluvian, misogynist environment.
On a surface level, this is a feel-good story of female empowerment and triumph over adversity. A Turkish immigrant in Holland, Havva raises her Nazmiye with an iron fist in a strict religious household. Nazmiye’s father dies young and doesn’t figure much in this story: it’s clear who runs the show in this family. But Nazmiye doesn’t want an arranged marriage at age eighteen and a life of domesticity like her mom. So she leaves home, marries a foreigner, has a couple of daughters of her own, divorces and becomes a world-famous journalist and performer along the way. What’s not to be proud of?
Havva doesn’t exactly see it that way. In this performance piece, she’s less volubly critical than Nazmiye recalls, dredging up one childhood battle after another. And she’s withholding. What Nazmiye wants most is her mother’s love. In the piece’s most touching scene, Nazmiye recalls that despite the disputes and the terror of being dragged off by a teenage husband-to-be whom she doesn’t even like, the one place she feels secure is in her mother’s arms. And time after time, Havva keeps her at arms length.
Yet Havva is also anything but an ogre. Her traditional garb makes a stark contrast with her daughter’s scarlet dress. She’s calm, stolid, unassailably confident and someone who says a lot in a few aphoristic words. And she’s funny! As the piece progresses, it’s clear that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, two indomitable women, each with big dreams. Daughter speaks in English, mother answers in Turkish, usually translated by Seval Okyay, who also provides gorgeous, haunting musical interludes with electric saz lute and a soulful, often plaintive voice. If there’s anything this performance could use more of, it’s Okyay.
While the cultural idiom here is specifically Muslim, the story is an all-too-familiar one: escapees from militant Christian and Orthodox Jewish environments tell the same tale. Beyond the breaking of one taboo after another – where Havva seems genuinely worried for her daughter’s soul, not to mention her own – the most shocking moment of all might be where Nazmiye asks what right a mother has to live vicariously through her daughter. Havva asserts that it’s perfectly kosher for a child to be the vehicle for a parent’s aspirations – or dashed hopes, perhaps. It’s another familiar dynamic. Obsessive Colorado pageant moms, psycho Texas football dads and harried Park Slope helicopter parents would find themselves more at home in Nazmiye’s childhood environment than they might think.
More poignantly, there are several “do you love me” moments: the answer may surprise you, like the ending, which is anything other than pat. But the one question that Nazmiye never asks, after all she’s accomplished, is “Are you proud of me?” One suspects the response would be more predictable.
Adelheid Roosen’s direction is everything the relationship isn’t: comfortable and familial, the audience seated on comfy cushions around the floor, living room style. There is also a little interaction with the audience, which is similarly welcoming and comforting and a serendipitous respite from the intensity of the performance. The final show today is sold out, but the Institute’s long-running events and concert schedule, including their legendary film series continues through the fall.
I read Chris Kelly’s Oct. 3 music review, “Solange puts fannies in seats, and gets them out” [Style], with a sad resignation, after being seduced by a photo caption that mentioned “the Sun Ra Ar…
For those who have been following along, Andrew Bird has been releasing Echolocations, a series of records that move away from his familiar sounds of alternative indie and into a classical ambient realm. On his latest installment, River, Andrew recorded under a bridge of the L.A. River, utilizing fortuitously crisp acoustics of antique cement and […]
This month, local experimental rock ensemble Upholstery is celebrating ten years of bringing left-of-center sounds to the Philadelphia stage. Yesterday saw the release A Decade of Decadence — not the Motley Crue box set, but rather an anthology of the Upholstery’s sounds and styles, from its post-Man Man beginnings in 2007 to its more recent oddball outings. Proceeds from the record will benefit Musicopia, and tonight the band headlines an anniversary extravaganza at Johnny Brenda’s. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Philly R&B singer and songwriter Musiq Soulchild released his eighth studio outing, Feel The Real, last month via eOne Music, and tonight he brings the double-LP to his hometown stage with a headlining gig at the Electric Factory. Joining him are two of his local contemporaries: Vivian Green and Bilal. Tickets and more information can be found here. Watch the video for “Simpler Things” from the new record below.
Rock and roll vet Joan Osborne dove into the work of one of the masters this year, recording and releasing the tribute album Songs of Bob Dylanhere. Tonight, she’ll play Mr. Zimmerman’s music and more at the Appell Center for the Performing Arts in York. Tickets and more information can be found ; listen to Songs of Bob Dylan below
Tonight’s NYC-area shows include S U R V I V E live in a cemetery, Wesley Stace’s Cabinet of Wonders (with Juliana Hatfield, Stephin Merritt, and more), Modest Mouse, Andrew WK, Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, Wolves in the Throne Room, and more.
What’s in a name?
Def.GRLS are energy itself, a lazer-light show of heavy psych-pop madness. It’s impossible to listen to their music without feeling the grit of glitter in one’s teeth or hair. Def.GRLS, as contagious as they are, are helpfully releasing their first LP “GRLS GRLS GRLS” on 11.17 to keep the party going. But, just to get a hit of the glitter to make it until then, they leaked their single “Good Time” for us to premiere! Tomorrow Def.GRLS open for Andrew W.K., the party-master himself, at Warsaw. Don’t miss out! —Amanda Ogea
The Northern Virginia-raised pop singer, who’s giving a concert in D.C., is chasing her cosmic ambitions in California.
Hitting quite close to home.
Cult Objects leapt onto the scene recently with a couple of demos on Bandcamp. The energetic punk four-piece played their first show just a few months ago and have been floating around town ever since; they’ll be at LAVA Space tonight for a gig with Telepathic, Clasp and Weeping Icon. The Key recently dug up Cult Objects from the depths of Bandcamp for the Items Tagged Philadelphia series, and if you’re into finding new bands right as they’re just getting started, this is the show for you. Listen below, and find more information on tonight’s show here.
Iconic Toronto indie rockers Broken Social Scene recently broke a seven-year silence to release their latest LP Hug of Thunder, and they’ll bring anthemic sounds of the new record The Fillmore tonight. It’s a good thing they have one of Philly’s bigger stages to work with — all 15 original members of Broken Social Scene are featured on the new album, and some sleuthing indicates that their touring lineup is at least eight strong. The band’s first Philly show since their Forgiveness Rock Record days, it’s one not to miss. Frightened Rabbit also plays. Find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar.
It was ahead of the BV-presented Dinosaur Jr and Easy Action shows at Brooklyn Bowl tonight (10/2) and Tuesday (10/3), the latter of which will stream live.
It’s second nature at this point.
Toronto singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman’s newest self-titled release with her band The Weather Station takes a change of pace when compared to previous outings. The lyrics give the word “thoughtful” a whole new meaning. While it’s no question that Lindeman is truly a gifted songwriter, the themes of The Weather Station come across in such a realistic and understandable way because her word choices are so relatable. The every-day situations she writes about are so simple and elegant and not overthought at all, something that most musicians struggle with.
The eleven-track album is currently featured on NPR Music’s First Listen series, and one way to describe the shift in mood between past and present work is the fact that these songs seem much more “urgent.” Lindeman calls this her “rock and roll album,” but not for the typical way that you’d think. This album isn’t heavy in the literal, auditory sense – they’re emotionally heavy. But Lindeman does a great job of channeling all of this extra and raw emotion into something truly understatedly beautiful.
The Joni Mitchell-esque vibe that this album conveys channels that same “fluidity and flow of words that are complicated but sound effortless,” and that’s not an easy task to fulfill.
Another classic from the electronic powerhouse.
Paul McCartney wrapped up his eight-show NYC-area run with two nights at the Nassau Coliseum, Tuesday (9/26) and Wednesday (9/27). The first night featured a guest appearance by Billy Joel on “Get Back” and “Birthday.” No guests for the second and final night…
These are the first announced shows for David Byrne, who has been working on an album with Oneohtrix Point Never and Brian Eno.
When did hangovers start sounding good?
In a previous life, Will Lindsay and George Legatos played electropop for the basement show punk kids in W.C. Lindsay, a group we dug a lot around here at The Key. In a concurrent life, Carlos Pacheco-Perez and Sean Gill are two-thirds of Square Peg Round Hole, the progressive, percussion-driven instrumental ensemble that we also enjoy, whether they’re onstage or in the studio.
This would lead us to reason that we’d be all about Caracara, the new collaborative project of those various musicians. But we were nevertheless surprised how epic their debut record wound up being.
Summer Megalith, out last Friday on Cam Boucher’s Flower Girl Records imprint, is an expansive fusion of voices, with each bandmate’s individual style represented in the whole. You’ve got the punk rock catharsis and pop-minded hooks from Will and Greg; you’ve got the simmering post-rock underbelly, the left-of-center tones and rhythms of Carlos and Sean. Collectively it brings to mind Foxing, or Manchester Orchestra’s barrier-pushing indie rock. Oh, and there are horns.
The band recorded that killer rendition of album pinnacle “Apotheosis” live for The Key Studio Sessions, where Caracara’s central four-piece was expanded to include cellist / vocalist Nneka Lyn, and a horn section of Max Swan on saxophone, Sam Gellerstein on trombone and Joshua Chase Miller on trumpet and backing vocals — he recorded a Key Studio Session this week too, check it here.
Dynamic-wise, that song offers a little bit of everything that Caracara can do — fusing the anthemic quality of set-opener “Crystalline” with the thundering post-rock of “Glacier” and the haunting minimalism of “Evil” — and taken as a whole, it’s pretty difficult not to be moved.
Listen to it all below, and see Caracara play it in person tonight for their Summer Megalith release party at Everybody Hits. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Beach Boy Brian Wilson just released his first-ever solo career-spanning anthology, Playback, last week. It includes 18 songs that pull from nine of his solo albums, plus two previously unreleased songs. We’re premiering the video for “Love And Mercy,” which features footage of Brian recording the song and has been in the Warner vaults for years.
DJs include Juan Maclean and Cut Copy’s Tim Hoey, and there’s a surprise musical guest.
On September 20th, Amnesty International partnered with the living room concert series SoFAR Sounds to hold a series of benefits across the world. 1,000 artists were booked to play 300 shows in 60 countries to raise money and awareness for the world’s refugees through Amnesty’s Give a Home project.
While SoFAR typically keeps their lineups under wraps, for “A Global Day of Secret Gigs,” the artists were released early, and it featured big names like Ed Sheeran in Washington, D.C. ,Hozier in Dublin, and BØRNS in Los Angeles.
On SoFAR Philly’s bill was Esperanza Spalding, Shamir and Maitland. The show was located in an ornate office building just off of Rittenhouse Square. Walking up three flights of carpeted stairs felt like walking through an antique mansion — SoFAR always chooses the coolest spots. Everyone got close and cozy as the sun set over the park and the bands began to set up.
Portland-born jazz musician Esperanza Spalding played first. The winner of four Grammy’s, Spalding took the stage with an upright bass and played an incredibly raw, enigmatic set. She’s truly incredible to watch, tuned in to her music at all times, Her style of jazz is so completely unique to herself as well, which makes it that much more enjoyable. She’s an artist; she’s one of those performers that you see and you just know that this is her life.
Shamir — originally from Las Vegas, currently living in Philly — played next, and he brought only his guitar and his eclectic personality. This guy was fun. He has one of these voices that is so rare to hear, you just have to stop and listen. His set was upbeat and his songs were mesmerizing and electric. The cool thing about SoFAR is that whether or not you’ve heard of the artists before, which up until tonight I hadn’t, you leave completely in love with both the performer and the person. And Shamir had everyone falling in love.
Ending the night was Maitland, a Philly indie duo pulling inspiration from Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes. They were the right choice to close the show – woodsy, relaxed, and sweet. These easy crooners had the whole crowd swaying and melting into their harmonies. One thing Sofar always does is choose performers that always compliment each other in some way. Where Shamir was lively, Maitland was soft and gentle. Where Esperanza Spalding was edgy, Maitland was calm. Everyone sounded so great together.
SoFAR is one of my favorite rising concert experiences. Every show is so unique from the last, and that’s what makes them memorable. To find out more about their upcoming events, you can check their website, and you can read more about their partnership with Amnesty International to donate.