philly

Sad Philly Boy Music/Coachella Band Preview?

It’s been a while since I last blogged. It almost feels like I actually did go to Coachella since this is what usually happens. I write Coachella blogs until I leave for Coachella then stop until I return from being out in the desert for a few weeks. At this point I should have no excuse for not writing. I’m home. The problem was I couldn’t figure out what to write about. There’s a few upcoming albums I plan to review, but until then I haven’t really discovered anything new I like, until Saturday.

I’ve been talking to my friend Kelsey for most of quarantine. We’re quarantine buddies for sure and we’ve agreed that it feels a lot like being in high school since we’re both with our families. Kick in the nostalgia. We often talk about bands we grew up listening to like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. We were both emo/punk/alternative kids. Lately though, quarantine has brought in some deep cut local bands and musicians that were a part of our teen scenes. I started talking about Title Fight and how my friends and I watched them play small venues in our area as they grew bigger in their scene. She sent me a picture of her and her prom date Alex and then told me how he’s now in a band that sells out large venues. That’s when I first heard of (Sandy) Alex G.

According to Kelsey, (Sandy) Alex G, aka her high school friend Alex Giannascoli, really started when he was in high school. He was in a pop punk band called The Skin Cells with several of their other friends. Kelsey even sent me one of their songs Saturday night. It was great. She said Alex was super dedicated to music and would record his own stuff in his room, put it on CD, and personally decorate the CD. She said it felt like he did this at least once a month. He was good too. She always thought he would be famous one day and she wasn’t lying. He’s now an indie recording artist.

He began self-releasing music on Bandcamp between 2010-2012. His music spread by word of mouth and music blogs and eventually lead to his signing with Orchid Tapes who he released his debut album DSU under in 2014. At that time he was just Alex G. In 2015 he signed with Domino Recording Company and began releasing records under that label. He released three albums with Domino in 2015, Rules, Trick, and Beach Music.

In 2017, Alex G announced that he would be changing his name from Alex G to (Sandy) Alex G shortly before the release of his album Rocket. The album ranked on many indie publications’ lists as being in the Top 50 of the year. In September, Alex released his latest album House of Sugar, which again received similar accolades

(Sandy) Alex G is a typical indie artist. His music also bridges into that post-punk/pop-punk/alternative scene that bands like Turnover and Tigers Jaw are a part of. He’s also from suburban Philly. Based on his style, he probably attracts a large following of “sad Philly boy” fans, which is a term I’ve heard referring to the new indie scene of young urban outfitter wearing 20-somethings that originated in Philly. Regardless of what your style is, if you’re an indie music fan, you’d dig what (Sandy) Alex G has been putting out.

Normally, at this point of the year Coachella would already have passed and we would be looking forward to next year. Unfortunately at this point, 2020 hasn’t happened and no one’s really sure if it will. That being said who knows what happens to the 2020 lineup? If it happens this year, will the same artists be playing? If it doesn’t, do they play next year? I’m sure Goldenvoice has already started booking a 2021 lineup that looks much different than this year, but I bet if Coachella 2020 doesn’t happen in the fall there may be some smaller acts booked for the following spring. The reason I’m even talking about this is because (Sandy) Alex G was supposed to be on the lineup this year! He was slated to play Sunday. Even though everything is very TBD right now, I’m hoping he still plays in October and if not, I’m hoping he’s on the 2021 lineup. I’d love to see him out on the polo fields and I now have plenty of time to listen to his music. So big shoutout to Kelsey for the introduction and big shoutout to Alex for putting out this great music since high school.

 

 

 

Triangles are my favorite shape: alt-J Concert Review

On Friday, I was able to attend a show on alt-J’s Fall 2015 North American Tour. I saw alt-J for the first time at Coachella this past year. I wrote about them leading up to the yearly event in the southern California desert so I won’t re-hash about the group or how they got their name from a Mac keyboard command. Instead, I’ll just let you know that my second time seeing them was just as good, if not better than the first.

After seeing them at Coachella (it was one of my top 3 favorite sets) and seeing how cheap tickets were for their date in Philadelphia last Friday, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them again. I bought tickets for myself and my two favorite kids as a gift for their graduation this past June. However, about a month and a half before the show, my friend informed me that the date of the show coincided with the Pope’s visit to the Philly with 2 million people expected to be on hand for the event. How awesome, right? Now on top of dealing with traffic and people in a normally busy city on a Friday we also had to handle extra of both because of the Papal visit. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t as big of an issue as I initially expected, and we had a phenomenal day in the city leading up to the show.

The show was at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. The venue’s location is right on the Delaware River. As we were walking to the pier, it reminded me of being at the beach to see a concert. The fact that sand surrounded the platform which housed an area for the general admission crowd to stand added to that effect. Add in that it was a cool, breezy September day/night and I felt like I was on a beach on the west coast rather than in a city on the east coast. It was ideal for me. We didn’t have any food at the venue as our stomachs were full from the Shake Shack burgers and fries we had earlier that evening, but I did make a purchase of a Blackberry Lemonade flavored Mike’s Hard. It was way too expensive at $15, but for alcohol at shows/concerts, that’s the price you pay.

San Fermin opened for the boys from Leeds, UK. They’re an American pop band with classical roots formed by Ellis Ludwig-Leone, a Yale University graduate who studied composition during his time there. Having released their sophomore album this past April, the eight piece ensemble played songs like “Parasites”, “Sonsick”, and “Jackrabbit” to get the crowd going before the headliners took the stage. I found their music catchy. They seemed like a band I would listen to on occasion but not fall entirely in love with. By the end of the set, I was just itching for alt-J to play.

alt-J opened with the “Intro” from their latest album, This Is All Yours, (how appropriate) and went straight into “Every Other Freckle” much to the delight of concert attendees. As a headliner on their own tour versus an act at an acclaimed music festival, their set was predictably longer. It featured songs from both full length albums like “Something Good”, “Dissolve Me”, “Matilda”, “Tessellate”, and “Fitzpleasure” from their 2012 debut An Awesome Wave and “Left Hand Free”, “The Gospel of John Hurt”, “Nara”, and “Leaving Nara” from This Is All Yours. They even played the bonus track Bill Withers cover “Lovely Day”. Perhaps one of the coolest transitions in their set was when they performed “Bloodflood” followed by “Bloodflood Pt. 2”. There weren’t many breaks between songs to chat with the crowd, which I liked. To be honest, I do like when bands talk in between songs, but I can also appreciate what alt-J did Friday night. There’s more time for music and there’s nothing wrong with that. The lighting and screens with digital imagery used in their set really captured the essence of their songs as well. This might be overlooked at a show when you’re focused on hearing your favorite songs, but it shouldn’t be. It gave their great performance a little something extra.

After “ending” their set with “Fitzpleasure”, which we all knew wasn’t really the end, the band came back out to perform a four song encore that started with “Hunger on the Pine”, followed by “Warm Foothills” and “Taro”, and closed with “Breezeblocks”. It was a perfect encore. The show left fans feeling fulfilled including me and my friends. It reaffirmed my choice to see them again and was great day/night all around. If you’re a fan, they’re worth seeing live, but even if triangles aren’t your favorite shape, they’re still worth it.

(Since this is the end of my post and I usually recommend some songs, but I’ve written about alt-J before and included song recommendations, I’ll just say to listen to any of the songs mentioned in this post and link you to my alt-J Coachella Band Preview for more info.)