Connor Barwin's Second Annual MTWB Benefit Concert
Parquet Courts, Mac DeMarco, Marian Hill, The Suffers
Sat, June 20, 2015
Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:00 pm
This event is all ages
The MTWB foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of Philadelphia’s youth by providing safe and fun places for artistic and athletic development. Last year’s inaugural event raised over $185,000 for Ralph Brooks Park in the Point Breeze neighborhood of South Philly. Construction at Ralph Brooks Park is slated to be finished this summer.
All proceeds from the concert will be matched by MTWB and donated to the revitalization project at Smith Playground in South Philadelphia. The renovation will include improvements to the Recreation Center building and adjacent play spaces, new football and baseball fields, and installation of Green Stormwater Infrastructure by the Philadelphia Water Department. Other key project partners include Urban Roots, Philadelphia Parks and Recreation, Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, and Philly Rising.https://www.utphilly.com/event/856711/
“The final product of this album is Exhibit A that we made it through the shit, solved the problem, had the chuckle, took the piss, made up with the other guy, and got home in one piece,” laughs bassist Sean Yeaton.
Whereas other Parquets Courts albums were recorded in a matter of days or weeks, for Human Performance the band took an entire year; it’s the first LP that finds all four band members contributing songs.
Human Performance brings expansive sonic experimentation and shining melodic introspection onto matters of the heart, matters of humanity, of identity. “I told you I loved you, did I even deserve it when you returned it?” singer/guitarist Andrew Savage wonders on the title track. It’s also their most pop-oriented collection yet, coming only months after the release of the largely instrumental Monastic Living EP; a record that was actually made at the same time.
“In a way, Monastic Living was like a palate cleanser for us as a band,” explains singer/guitarist Austin Brown, who produced the entire record, and mixed it in Austin at Jim Eno’s Public Hi-Fi, “maybe a return to our roots of improvising together, and being a bit more free, and seeing what kind of new sounds we could make.”
The recording sessions started at Justin Pizzoferrato’s Sonelab in Western Massachusetts. Some of it was also made with Tom Schick and Jeff Tweedy at The Loft, Wilco’s visionary studio in Chicago, but the majority of Human Performance was made at Dreamland Studios, a massive upstate NY pentecostal church where records have been made by The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr, and the B-52s (including “Love Shack”). They spent three weeks straight there, writing by day and recording with Pizzoferrato by night.
The result is a record with a palpable sense of fragility. “The process of writing and recording Human Performance, for me, was a fairly uncomfortable confrontation with my emotions,” Savage says. “Emotions I don’t think I’ve fully explored in my life, artistic or otherwise.”
Human Performance is fittingly laced with as much static as softness, with tight-wound percussion pushing along meandering, wistful melodies. There are dazed and disoriented earworms, echoing group chants, downtempo ballads with wired riffs. Lovers leave, existential confusion replaces them, weeks pass, the J train rolls by.
The record leads with “Dust”, a 4-minute opener that takes the mundane daily duty of sweeping the floor and turns it into a frantic, obsessive call for action. “Dust is everywhere … Sweep!” they drolly repeat, before their cyclic back beat gives way to explosive, everyday city sound of car horns.
Savage says “Human Performance” is his most personal song on the record, a solemn musing on love drifting away, a picture-perfect memory of the beginning of things and a hazier recollection of the ending. “It didn’t feel right to be shouting, barking,” he says, reflecting on his tendency to really sing for this first time on this album. “I think a lot of people are attracted to a sort of cerebral side of Parquet Courts, in the lyricism. There has always been the emotional side of our band, which I think has always been an important balance, but Human Performance marks a point where the scales have tipped. I began to question my humanity, and if it was always as sincere as I thought, or if it was a performance. I felt like a malfunctioning apparatus. Like a machine programmed to be human showing signs of defect.”
Across six years, four full-length albums, and two EPs, Parquet Courts have always littered their lyric sheets with question marks, interrogating the outside world to varying degrees. Light Up Gold considered peanuts versus Swedish Fish, an introduction of their sharp, young wit and language of mundane, everyday NYC imagery. Sunbathing Animal channeled that language into noisy punk philosophy, raising wide-view questions about agency versus captivity, choice versus freewill. Content Nausea wondered about anxiety and emotional deterioration under the age of big data, in an aptly self-aware way: “And am I under some spell? And do my thoughts belong to me? Or just some slogan I ingested to save time?” And with Human Performance—their fifth album and second for Rough Trade—the question marks get turned on themselves more than ever.
“There is a lot of darkness, and general anguish being worked out on this record,” Brown adds. “But it ends kind of peacefully, kind of accepting that you can’t do much about it.”
With two full-length albums and two EPs released and hundreds of sold out shows performed in the last several years, a recent late night television debut on Conan following a special guest performance on The Eric Andre Show, it seems as Mac DeMarco nears his 25th birthday, he’s outgrowing any sort of slacker stigma. As expected, he’ll continue to tour extensively in support of Another One, further connecting with his ever-inspired fanbase, whether in New York City, Tel Aviv, Brazil or Australia.
Another One is out August 7th on Captured Tracks.
Two years ago Sam and Jeremy wrote and recorded “Whisky” over spring break in Jeremy’s parents’ basement. When they released it for free on Soundcloud later that summer it was the only song they’d written for the project, and in a little over a year’s time they had recorded their first EP in a bedroom, amassed millions of plays on various platforms, sold out shows across the country and featured in high profile commercials. They signed to Republic Records in early 2015, released the Sway EP, and settled in to write and record their debut album over the course of the following year with a plan to push their unique sound to its fullest potential.
For the first 50 seconds of “Down” you might think you’re at a supper club in the 1920s, but when the bass drops out of nowhere you couldn’t be anywhere but 2016. Act One then takes you on a journey through the complexities of modern relationships, with each song inhabiting a specific and charged relationship lyrically, melodically, and sonically. “I Know Why” constantly transforms and reinvents itself as the vocals grapple with a secret while “Mistaken” is the hardest of sax trap with a classic songwriting backbone. “Same Thing” is the saddest part of the album, a haunting ballad depicting serene resignation of a doomed relationship, but castanets rise from the ashes as “I Want You” closes out the night in a pure moment of optimistic electricity, a glance across a crowded room that changes everything.
Marian Hill’s one of a kind sound is present throughout — blues harmonies blend with sparse hip hop drums, horns blast under classic vocal melodies, and soloistic vocal chops sit side by side with clear, intimate lyrics. You’ve never heard this before, yet it’s surprisingly familiar. And it’s only the beginning.
The Suffers' ten-piece line up was curated by bassist Adam Castaneda and keyboardist/songwriter/vocalist Pat Kelly in 2011. The pair brought on trumpet player Jon Durbin, trombonist Michael Razo, guitarist Kevin Bernier, and percussionist Jose "Chapy" Luna, all band mates from earlier projects. Filling out the rhythm section are accomplished jazz saxophonist Cory Wilson and songwriting/producing duo Alex Zamora on guitar/vocals and Nick Zamora on drums/vocals. Vocalist/songwriter Kam Franklin, having recently completed a tour with London-based group The Very Best, was recruited to front the band.
In a short time, the band has progressed from packing local Houston venues to accepting invitations for main stage performances at the 20th annual Austin Reggae Festival, Houston's Free Press Summer Festival, and Paste Magazine's Untapped Festival where they've shared the stage with the likes of The Wailers, Mavis Staples, Alabama Shakes, The Walkmen, and Cat Power. The Suffers have accepted four Houston Press Music Awards in two years and have been listed among the top musical acts to watch in 2014 by the Houston Press and Houston Chronicle. The band's debut video, a live performance of "Giver," was recently premiered by Side One Track One following a hugely successful performance during Austin's Free Week. Work has already begun on a follow-up to their debut 45, which will be a full-length album planned for release in 2015.
1026 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA, 19123