Union Transfer

1026 SPRING GARDEN STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19123 Ι 215-232-2100

The Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra

A Fundraiser for the Rail Park

The Walkmen

Sun Ra Arkestra

Sharon Van Etten, Spank Rock, Birdie Busch, Light Heat, Chris Ward, Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler

Wed, December 4, 2013

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Union Transfer

Philadelphia, PA

This event is all ages

Benefit concert for Phase One of the Rail Park, slated to break ground in 2014. All proceeds go to the Friends of the Rail Park (therailpark.org) a 501c3 organization. Hosted by XPN's Michaela Majoun and Low Times' Daniel Ralston. Sponsored by Gilmore&Associates, GRID, and Philebrity.

The Walkmen
The Walkmen
“The detachment you can feel throughout our younger records is gone. We felt like it was time to make a bigger, more generous statement."

When describing the new album, Heaven, the Walkmen lead singer Hamilton Leithauser portrays a band hitting maturity, comfortable in its mastery, after a decade together. Adds guitarist Paul Maroon, “when you’re starting out, you’re sitting there trying to come up with a big idea, but after a while, you learn about the process of writing. You learn about your friends in the band and how they work best.”

It's been ten years since the Walkmen made their debut album, Everybody Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone. Ten years since they mixed the lovingly recorded analogue tapes down to the cheapest CD burner they could find. Ten years since lead singer Hamilton Leithauser snapped guitarist Paul Maroon’s arm in a celebratory wrestling match. Ten years since critics attached them to a New York scene they never wanted any part of. But when Leithauser sings “We Can’t Be Beat,” on the opening track of their new album, he means it, like Cool Hand Luke getting up off the floor for one more round. “The world is ours,” he declares. This time, he may be right.

This spring, the band played a series of 10th anniversary shows that demonstrated how far they have outstripped their peers: two sets over two hours, no filler, rapturously received. In contrast, fellow graduates from New York's celebrated rock revival class of ’02 have burned out or faded from view.

The Walkmen are the great New York band of their generation, and in Heaven, they have delivered their third killer album in a row. Although Leithauser argues that “our biggest accomplishment is just being here,” they are making the best music of their career and filling their largest venues yet. Their spot at the top of the bill at May’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry festival, curated by The National, demonstrates the respect in which they are held by the current wave of bands making music in the city.
“In The New Year”, a standout track on their fourth record, You & Me, implies that at one point there was pressure to quit: “My friends and my family, they are asking of me, how long will you ramble, how long will you still repeat?” Lauded as a stunning collection of songs, beautifully arranged, the 2008 album revitalized their career.

Lisbon, released two years later, confirmed that trajectory, winning five star reviews for its short stories and spare, Sun Records sound. The clanging tones of Paul Maroon’s Rickenbacker Capri 360 and Gretsch Streamliner set the 1950s mood, as Leithauser channelled Orbison and Sinatra, in all their melancholy defiance.

On last year’s tours with Arcade Fire and Fleet Foxes, the Walkmen formed enduring friendships – and resolved to write a song that would make them headliners, once and for all. “There’s a kinship,” says multi-instrumentalist Pete Bauer. “You feel like someone else is out there taking music as seriously as you’re taking it. You realize that you’re a lifer.”

So when Fleet Foxes producer Phil Ek approached them, asking if they’d like to make a record with him, they traveled to the studio he uses in the woods outside Seattle for the most intense recording sessions they had ever experienced. “He was relentless,” says Maroon. “And in the end, you can hear the difference.”

“We have never been on better behavior,” agrees Leithauser. “When Phil had an idea, we would be ‘OK, let’s try it.’ That’s not who we are! But we came up with a sound that we love.” Although the chime of Maroon’s guitar is unmistakable in the cascading arpeggios of “Song For Leigh” or the driving metallic riff of “Heartbreaker”, the setting is fuller, the production lush.
“There can be something brittle about our sound,” Maroon says. “He made it just a little bit warmer, a little bit stronger. When I play it in my car, it sounds strong, which I love.” On “We Can’t Be Beat”, Leithauser is Dion and his bandmates The Belmonts, singing pitch perfect doo-wop. On “No One Ever Sleeps”, Fleet Foxes vocalist Robin Pecknold plays Don Everly to Leithauser’s Phil, supplying a low harmony at once classic and contemporary.
“Love Is Luck” started out as an attempt to replicate the spacious, reverberating tone of Jamaica’s Studio One in the formative days of The Wailers. “Phil said ‘I hear this as a rock song,’” remembers Leithauser. “Then Matt came up with the drums and it started sounding like the Pixies: a big, loud, bombastic thing.”

The one song that the Walkmen insisted on, over Ek’s objections, turned out to be the track that pulled the record together and gave it a title. “Our children will always hear romantic tales of distant years,” sings Leithauser. “Don’t leave me, you’re my best friend. All of my life, you’ve always been.”
After 10 years, the Walkmen have everything that a great band needs. Leithauser is a mature singer of phenomenal stamina who can trade “The Rat’s” raw anger for the yearning of “Southern Heart” in a beat. Drummer Matt Barrick can pummel ferociously and drop down to Buddy Holly’s tramcar click. Bauer is a consummate sideman, effortlessly switching from guitar to farfisa to piano as required, or trading instruments with bass player Walter Martin, who has also written his most resonant lyrics yet.

All five members of the band have kids now and if the impact of parenthood is hard to pin down in a single lyric, there is definitely a new openness and emotional honesty to the songs. Most importantly, the old gang mentality has deepened, becoming something worthwhile and lasting. “I’m very proud of what we’ve done. We’ve stayed friends and those friendships have grown,” says Bauer. “We have survival experience and real love that children generate in your life.” Heaven is a definitive statement of purpose and commitment, from a band at the peak of its powers that is finally winning the recognition it deserves.

- Andrew Purcell
Sun Ra Arkestra
Sun Ra Arkestra
Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten
For all the attention that was paid to her 2012 break-through Tramp, Sharon Van Etten is an artist with a manifest hunger to turn another corner. Writing from free-flowing emotional honesty and vulnerability creates a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Compelled by a restless spirit, Van Etten is continuously challenging herself. Now, the result is Are We There, a self-produced album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity and immense breadth.

While most musicians are quite happy to leave the production end of things to someone else, with Are We There, Van Etten knew it was time to make a record entirely on her terms. The saying goes “fortune favors the bold” and yet this boldness had to be tempered. For this, Van Etten found a kindred spirit in veteran music producer Stewart Lerman whose expertise gave her the freedom to make Are We There the way she imagined. Originally working together on Boardwalk Empire, they gently moved into new roles, rallying around the idea of collaborating in Lerman’s studio in New Jersey.

It is clear from Are We There’s opening chords, we are witnessing a new awareness, a sign of Van Etten in full stride, writing, producing and performing from a place that seems almost mythical, were it not so touchable and real. Always direct, and never shying away from even the most personally painful narratives, Van Ettten’s songwriting continues to evolve. Many of the songs deal with seemingly impossible decisions, anticipation, and then resolution. She sings of the nature of desire, memory, of being lost, emptiness, of promises and loyalty, fear and change, of healing and the true self, violence and sanctuary, waiting, of silence. The artist who speaks in such a voice is urging us to do something, to take hold and to go deeper.
Spank Rock
Spank Rock
Spank Rock never wanted to be a rapper. All of his heroes are badass guitar-fondling queers who sing songs about incest, aliens, faith and love, but rap was his fate. Naeem Juwan came of age in West Baltimore during the Enlightenment of hip hop, and his bizarre hometown deranged his perception of life for good. It was the summer of 1993, and he was only twelve when Naeem first saw local superhero drag queen MC Miss Tony perform at his best friend's Bat Mitzvah. She performed two of her Baltimore club hits, "Pull Ya Gunz Out" and "Whassup Whassup," and the preteens freaked out and sang along. How could he have known that the memory of this performance would come to dominate his subconscious and reveal itself a decade later as one of his most predominant influences?

After permanently relocating to sister slum Philadelphia, Spank Rock released his debut album, YoYoYoYoYo (2006), on U.K. label Big Dada, and it became a cult classic. Produced by XXXChange, YoYoYoYoYo deconstructed the genre and created a new world of possibilities for hip hop. The duo became known as international indie rap trailblazers (profane good-for-nothing tramps) with a fearless drive for creative exploration and a diverse list of influences.

Spank Rock's music reeks of freedom. His concept EP Bangers & Cash (2008), produced by fledgling pop producer Benny Blanco, paid homage to freedom fighter Uncle Luther Campbell and 2 Live Crew. His self-released sophomore LP, Everything Is Boring And Everyone Is A Fucking Liar (2011), plays like Spank Rock's initiation into superhero clan The Invisibles. Teleporting from Philly noise rock ("DTF DADT"), to German techno ("#1 Hit"), to New Orleans sissy bounce ("Nasty ft. Big Freedia"), swinging from the bawdy to the brazenly political, the album confirms Spank Rock's commitment to creating music that is experimental, soulful and wild.
Birdie Busch
Light Heat
Bursting forth as a fully-formed artist into the world of music in 1999, Quentin Stoltzfus has been rotating the crops ever since. Fluent in Johns Cale *and* Cage, the gazes of both shoe and stars, and the vibrations of both Earth and space, he fears no sound. Having made a string of records with his former group, Mazarin, he incorporated all of these influences and more. Those records smoothly jangled in a way that made you wanna listen to them in a dune buggy on Mars, with now-bedroom classics like 'Another One Goes By', 'Wheats', and 'Chasing The Girl'.

The fact that the man has not released a record since 2005 borders on absurd, but know this: That whole time, Stoltzfus was thinkingabout communicating with you. Writing, recording, and rebuilding ever since, he is now proud to share with you a thing called LIGHT HEAT. Brought on with valuable contributions from Mazarin mainstay Mickey Walker and his old pals Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine/ Yellowbirds) and Drew Mills (Aspera/ Blood Feathers), the group somehow manages to weave classic references with the sound of the future. There's sweet soft harmonies alongside guitar pyrotechnics and a rhythm section any German dude from the 1970s would have been proud of.
Venue Information:
Union Transfer
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123