Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Zox! Tonight at World Cafe Live…

Three letters, four dudes – they are a band from the majestic city of Providence, Rhode Island. Four Brown University graduates, not afraid to tell you straight up that buddy, a violin is cool.
The violinist is Spencer Swain, one of the front men for Zox. Swain is to Zox what Tom Morello is/was to Rage Against the Machine, a genre-defying, rule-bending juggernaut of musical ingenuity. Much like Morello’s guitar work for Rage, Swain’s amazing violin work tends to save songs that otherwise could be a shade on the boring side. A conservatory-trained performer, Swain dances violin lines through a complex system of pedals and distortion and delays, providing much needed edge – some ominous clouds descending on a pleasant summer day.
Zox is a pop band- an update on that feel good, bouncing Police-sound of the late seventies, the melodramatic lyrics of the eighties, and the angst and brawn of the nineties. Lead singer and guitarist Eli Miller sings about love, losing love, having love, getting over love, and ultimately trying to forget love. He sings songs about old friends and the loneliness of the road, where Zox have tirelessly made a name for themselves over the past six years. Prior to signing to the California independent label, SideOneDummy, home of bands such as Flogging Molly, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and Gogol Bordello, Zox made diligent work of the East Coast college scene. Their live show got the word out, then the word of mouth sold the records, and now the band has released their third album, Line in the Sand.
Zox. Zox?
John Zox, the band’s drummer, drives the band in both name and style. His drumming calls to mind the manic madness of the Police’s Stewart Copeland, typified by sharp, quick cymbal hits, rapid hi-hat work, and one-droppin’ rim shots. Along with bassist Dan Edinburg, Zox creates the kind of quirky, popping atmospheric foundation that allows room for both Swain and Miller to dance along the surface.
What Zox is, is a band that ultimately sounds like something, but nothing you have ever heard before. Yes it’s somewhat about the presence of the violin, but it’s also much more than that. There is a distinction to Zox, a distinction that separates the band from all the other MySpace Road Warriors out there now, prowling up and down 95 in shabby vans pulling shabby trailers to play shows with shabby equipment. There’s probably a band out there right now called Shabby for all we know! But it doesn’t matter anymore because all these bands are now just hopeful and potential openers for the Zox Machine. Zox seemingly had it all figured out as the band pounded pavement up to the doors of nearly every college and university on the East Coast. The college circuit is the Grail for an upcoming band –the winning ticket if you can pull it off.
It’s simple.
1.) Have at least half of your band be talented.
2.) The other half should be either mildly talented, charismatic, or some combination of both.
3.) Listen to Sublime, some Johnny Cash, maybe a little early Metallica, and for kicks, the Clash.
4.) Start playing as many shows as possible – talk to friends, talk to bands, talk to anyone who will listen and when you do, give those monkeys a demo! Don’t take no. This is war!
5.) Play shows like each one is the very last one you’ll ever play before you lose your arm in some freak wood-working accident or drunken roller derby.
6.) Liberally toss in a great cover song, like the Pixies Where is my Mind or the Beatles Helter Skelter.
7.) And then just go, go, go baby and don’t stop until the sun comes up!
So for a couple years that is what Zox did, all while crafting increasingly more complicated and appealing tunes and running wild – armed with a clipboard of e-mail addresses and free stickers for anyone who would add theirs. It’s nothing that hadn’t been done before and won’t be done by hundreds of bands this weekend. But for Zox it worked, it worked well and soon it worked well enough to get the boys signed, to get them on the Warped Tour and MTV, and to get touring not just the States, but also England and various other hot spot destinations around Europe.
It worked so well, that now Zox doesn’t have to tell people that a violin is cool. All they have to tell anyone is where they’re playing that night – the rest seems to be working itself out just fine.

Zox,, play World Café Live tonight, Tuesday March 11th. The show is upstairs and starts at 9pm. Army of Me, an accoustic duo, open the show.



R5 Shows 3/07-3/13

Saturday 8 March 2008

Sightings, Weyes Bluhd, Electroputas, West Philadelphia Orchestra, Mincemeat or Tenspeed at Circle Of Hope, $8 / all-ages, 8PM

Samara Lubelski and Soft People at First Unitarian Church (Chapel Show), $10 / all-ages, 7:30PM

Sunday 9 March 2008

Ghastly City Sleep and Pygmy Lush at The Barbary, $8 / all-ages, 6:30PM

Full show schedule and venue locations at

R5 Shows 1/25-1/31

Saturday 26 January 2008
Super Furry Animals and Holy Fuck at Starlight Ballroom, $16 / all-ages

Thursday 31 January 2008
Plaid at Johnny Brenda’s, $12 / 21+

Full show schedule and venue locations at

Tonight at Grape Street Philadelphia

One of my favorite places to frequent for local music, being a suburban dude, is the Grape Street. Sure, it’s way out west in Manayunk, but it’s always a good time when I swing by. On weeknights they have small, acoustic acts in the Grape Room, and the Main Stage always rocks harder than an avalanche of snow! And, of course, the dance floors, which you’ll never, ever catch me on.

Like tonight, chillin’ up in the DJ Room’s Friday Night Dance Party are DJ Sat One and White Mike. They do their thing however they want but then you’d find me headbangin’ to (and you’re gonna think I’m crazy or just plain weird for this lineup:) Shane Hines, Chili Stu, Fooling April, and Whiskey Train.

I only really have heard Fooling April. They’re that poppy piano rock that reminds you of the Beatles if they were around today. Billy Joel had that thing going in the 80’s, and now it’s Fooling April, up and coming straight out of our little city. My buddies are going to see Shane Hines and Whiskey Train, too, and my buddies have good taste in music. We’ll see how everything turns out. It’ll be awesome and cool and if you got some free time and a few minutes to kill on I-76 (unless you know a better way, in which case TELL ME!) swing by for a musically moving good time!

Live Music at the Westin

So you know what I heard about the other day? The lobby bar at the Westin at 17th and Market has some nice, quiet, laid back music every Wednesday by Philly’s cool artists. From seven to eight, the sultry, the jazzy, the bluesy play the lounge, entertaining diners just before dinner at the City Grange restaurant. Tomorrow night? The ever amazing Adrienne Hamilton will be hangin’ out, wooing everyone with an ear. Swing by after work and have a drink and listen in. She’s worth catching.

Hoots & Hellmouth

Friday night local raucous rockers Hoots & Hellmouth will be performing at Johnny Brenda’s. Last time I saw them, I was moved. I mean, you just want to move around. You just want to let loose and dance. It’s contagious! They have this soulful sound, like a Southern revival, stirring up maybe-less-than-religious feelings. Raise your hands and have fun!

I’m also excited to see their opener, Frog Holler , for the first time. I learned about this band over three years ago from a friend, yet have never once heard them, live or otherwise. Bluegrass, anyone? They’ve got a great rep, and also hail from my home county of Berks. Their myspace page says they’re from Virginville. I lived there, folks. That town sure needed the music! I’m looking forward to hearing from their album “Adams Hotel Road,” because I know the location of that road, and not many people can say that.

Third band of the evening is Bitter Bitter Weeks, who are described as indie rock or pop.” Either way, I’m willing to give it a try. See you!

Raina Rose & John Elliot this Sunday at the Church


Raina Rose met John Elliott at the only free camp site at Lake Tahoe. They were both taken by each other’s music (they both play a personal style of folky rock) the minute they heard it and have been friends ever since. Now on tour together for the first time, they’re playing in Philly this Sunday at 5 pm at the Church. Tickets are $10 at the door. They’re doing an acoustic chapel show, which means that the sound will be terrific and the setting will be cozy. Definitely not something to miss.

Brandi Carlile and A Fine Frenzy at the Electric Factory

Monday night* I went to see the Brandi Carlile (with A Fine Frenzy) concert at the Electric Factory. I got there a little late as I had to work until 8 pm which was also the time that show started. I was hoping that things would start late, or that there’d be an opener for the opener (something I have encountered in the past at the Electric Factory). Sadly we got there just as A Fine Frenzy was ending their final song. I feel slightly guilty about that because it was her promotion company that gave me the tickets, but it was unavoidable. What I heard was good, but it’s hard to form an opinion based on the closing strains of a single song.

However, Brandi Carlile and band were excellent. I had heard her music before, I believe she was one of XPN’s Artists to Watch sometime back, so she was definitely field of awareness but I hadn’t paid much attention to her until seeing her live. Since I am a sucker for musicians who combine bluegrass with rock, there was nothing about her for me not to like. I was especially charmed when she stepped away from the mic and sang a song with two of her band mates totally unamplified. That takes a certain amount of chutzpah and talent.

One weird thing about the show was that the Electric Factory had chairs set up on the main floor. I’d never seen them do that before and it was kind of pointless because as soon as Brandi and her band started playing, everyone stood up. The friend with whom I went refused to stand. He is something of a curmudgeon.

*I meant to write about this sooner, but somehow the last two days have vanished without a trace.

Tempting at the TLA

I just got back from the rocking Within Temptation concert at the TLA tonight. The Netherlands bestselling musical export is currently in the middle of their North American tour. While many of the crowd there tonight more than likely think of the band as a good Evanescence rip off, Within Temptation is actually over ten years old, having formed in 1996. Lead by the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Sharon den Adel, Within Temptation brought their goth metal stylings to Philadelphia and put on one hell of a show. While the band most likely won’t be returning to Philly this year, you can check out their US debut album The Heart of Everything and catch them the next time they come to town.

Concerts in the Square


Starting this week the Philadelphia Weekly and Earthlink Wi-Fi will kick off four weeks of Wednesday night concerts in Rittenhouse Square. They’ve been putting these concerts on every summer since I lived around these parts, and they are always a noisy, sweaty good time. Click here for the full list of performers.

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