Tag Archives: two.one.five magazine

Wall Ball-in’ Out!

Photos by Kim-Thao Nguyen

Last Thursday, some of Philadelphia’s finest creators, movers and shakers congregated at the Vie on North Broad Street for one of the city’s most highly anticipated events: WALL BALL.

In its 9th year, The Mural Arts Program strived to bring an array of entertainment and excitement to its biggest annual fundraising affair. Not to be outdone by last year’s star-studded event honoring State Senator Vincent Hughes and his wife, actress Sheryl Lee Ralph as well as The Legendary Roots Crew, whose mural on South Street will be formally unveiled this upcoming Friday, this year’s swanky soiree put the spotlight on City Council President, Darrell L. Clarke and Philadelphia’s favorite big baller, former 76er, Julius “Dr. J” Erving, whose iconic mural on Ridge Avenue is a favorite in this acclaimed “City of Murals”.

This year, it was obvious that The Mural Arts Programs wanted to wow guests and contributors with fun and fantasy:  from fancy face-painting to scatting stilt-walkers to the elaborate array of light bites, Wall Ball 2013 left little to be desired from its content attendees. Mike Jerrick of FOX 29 News was the evening’s emcee and opened the floor for the live auction by dancing to Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” followed by some impressive sales in the name of charity.

After the last bid and before handing out awards, Mural Arts Program founder, Jane Golden, shared a story about a young Michael Whittington from the organization’s Restorative Justice Program before introducing him to speak briefly on behalf of its participants. With a testimony and an expression of gratitude extended to the guests, Whittington reminded everybody what doing this work is all about.  Jane Golden and the Mural Arts Program also posthumously honored the late local real estate developer, Tony Goldman.

In an effort to engage younger patrons of Mural Arts, the organization also incorporated an Off-The-Wall Ball at the neighboring Alla Spina Restaurant. This abbreviated party was an amazing amalgamation of muralists, artists, and mural-lovers having fun and making a contribution to art and its restorative power.

The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is the nation’s largest mural project and provides programming for over 100 communities, including at-risk teens and adult offenders. For more information about the Mural Arts Program, visit www.muralarts.org or follow on Twitter @MuralArts.

Tailor Made

Men of Philly, this is the final weekend to get into the suit of your dreams!

Indochino’s Traveling Tailor and virtual menswear phenomenon wraps up their two and a half week run in Philadelphia on Memorial Day.  This six-year-old brand from Vancouver, BC, brings their luxurious online label to life with their Pop-Up Shop tour that aspires to make men fall in love with their offerings, purchase a piece-by-piece suit, and become a loyal customer—looking to the Canada-based operation to provide all of his future menswear needs.

Situated on 1518 Walnut street—near the business district, blocks from the Gayborhood, and alongside some of the city’s best apparel shops—it would be hard for Philadelphia’s stylish men to have missed this moving gem.  And with custom suits starting at $379, free gifts with a suit purchase, and an online profile that captures the entire fit experience, what guy wouldn’t want to get fly before the innovative shop bids Philly farewell?  Even if your budget doesn’t allow a major splurge this weekend, Indochino brand manager, Crystal Walton, encourages both window shoppers and garment grabbers alike to make an appointment with a tailor before they go bye-bye:

“Every guy that has come into the Traveling Tailor in Philadelphia, whether he’s made a purchase or not, has had an online account profile created for him.  Once we’ve taken his measurements, we’ve now uploaded that onto Indochino.com.  For future purchases…he would go to Indochino.com and it’s point and click: he chooses his suit, his fabric, his customizations and feels confident in the fact that we’ve taken his measurements for him.  In doing so, we have now removed the majority of the work for that guy and made it very easy for him to shop with us in the future.”

To further capture the essence of what Indochino offers within the four walls of the Pop-Up Shop on Walnut Street, two.one.five magazine asked one of our readers to take a walk through the Traveling Tailor and share his experience.  Here’s what Cleveland Pickett, UPenn student and former Saks Fifth Avenue menswear associate, had to say about shopping at the Pop-Up Shop for an Indochino dress shirt:

“For a novice gentleman who has never had the chance to treat himself to custom tailored clothing, the Indochino process was both simple and rewarding.  

During my visit, I met with Hassan, one of the executives and tailors for Indochino’s Traveling Tailor Pop-Up Shop. Within ten minutes, Hassan measured me for a perfect fit from the neck all the way to the break in the pants. During this time we talked about my likes and dislikes with off-the-rack suits and what I should expect from the Indochino brand.

 After my measurements, I was able to start creating my shirt from its beginning. The combinations of colors, patterns, and fabrics seem endless—they have the oxfords, the poplins, broadcloths, twills, and end-on-ends–they’re all here. The patterns range from plain, stripes, checks and plaids to other unique patterns. After I’ve made these selections, I must finally choose which collar and cuffs best fit my style.  My options are spreads, button-downs, pinned, and even tuxedo collars; the one, two button, and French cuffs.

 When it’s said and done, I’m pretty confident that I have just created the best shirt that, in about 2-3 weeks, I will have the pleasure of draping across my back. I’m excited that I’ll have the chance to have an ensemble that compares to the same pieces I’ve seen every month in GQ Magazine for a fraction of the price.”

Still curious about the Indochino brand? Take a look for yourself!  Book an appointment at Indochino.com/Philadelphia and receive a free custom dress shirt and gift set with your suit purchase.  Open Saturday, 9am-7pm; Sunday, 11am-7pm; and Memorial Day, 8am-8pm.

The Deejay with an “SS” on Her Chest

Tucked on a tiny street in Germantown is G-Town Radio where, on any given Sunday, Shawanda Spivey morphs into DJ Aura and sits on the hostess side of things to interview local acts and up and coming names for the internet airwaves.  Places and Spaces, Aura’s online radio show for 1.5 years, is one of the major channels through which this talented, underground deejay showcases her varied music tastes as well as her love for the art of mixing a well-balanced groove for her listeners.

Aura has been in the deejay circuit since 2006 when she first took on spinning at local parties after graduating from Temple University. I initially heard a mix from this lady deejay via a link to her “A Taste of Power” mixtape on Soundcloud.  With music from local producer, Suzi Analogue and Philly deejay, Jazzy Jeff and further laced with indie hip-hop tracks heavy with electronic beats and girl-power raunch (like my personal favorite, Likwuid’s Camel Toe), “A Taste of Power” maintains a chill flow that is both nostalgic and worldly, demanding a bounce and head nod from listeners who appreciate a deviation from the radio norm.

A self-proclaimed music snob whose music tastes tend to gravitate towards more soulful house and indie grooves, she admits she can’t always be a “purist” and will occasionally indulge in some “guilty pleasures” and radio ratchetness to please her crowd.  A closet fan of popular hip hop artists Drake, 2 Chainz, and working on Trinidad James, Aura’s ability to incorporate popular urban music in her sets enables her to create what she considers a well-rounded party for her audience.

To keep abreast of what’s hot, Aura says she still listens to the radio, surfs music blogs, frequents clubs and learns from watching other area deejays.  She gives props to the radio jocks, DJ Damage and Diamond Kutz and says that her favorite time to listen to their on-air sets is during holiday weekends when good-time hits from the New-Jack 90’s all the way to the trap-music present are plentiful and the parties are nonstop because of it.  She also tips her hat to fellow lady deejay, AfroDJiak (also featured in this series), who helped her get started by taking her to Armand’s to show her what she needed to build her music biz.

In addition to her mixtapes and radio show, you can also find Aura on the nightclub grind.  Whether it’s pumping up the volume for real hip-hop heads or turning up dancefloors for divas in drag, Aura is ready with a Mac packed with rhythmic crowd-pleasers.  When talking about some of her favorite folks to spin for, she includes her friends in the Gayborhood.  With experience spinning for such parties as STASH at Woody’s, Sexy Beast at The Treehouse, and a variety of shows at TABU, paired with deep respect for the community’s appreciation for good music, Aura jokingly coins herself as the “black Lady Gaga.”

“It’s fun…I mean, music is such a big part of that community. Music, dancing, vogue-ing is, like, such a big part of the culture.  Like when people come out to a party [in the Gayborhood], it’s understood: ‘I’m ready to get down.’ And they know their music, you know—and I like that because I like a challenge,” Aura dishes when talking about how she keeps the party poppin’ at the bars between 11th and 13th Streets.

Want more Aura? Follow her @DJAura360 and def check out Places and Spaces every Sunday from 6pm-8pm at GTownRadio.com. You can also check out  her latest mixtape “Electric Gems” on Aura’s Podcast. Lastly, look out for Aura’s follow-up to the mixtape of femme classics with “A Taste of Power, Part 2” coming soon.  But this Friday night, join Aura as she celebrates her birthday by spinning the opening set at Silk City‘s monthly MIGHTY# party and spreading the only love you’ll get from this motley crew of Heartbreaker deejays.

KAsh for a Dose of DOPEness

Its official: DJ K.Ash needs no sleep. This girl is merely four months and a hospital residency away from being both doctor and deejay.  In the meantime, Kathryn Ashley Brandt—shortened to produce the moniker, K.Ash—is booked as the resident deejay for three local parties; can be found spinning for audiences of 800+ in international nightclubs; and regularly travels to Atlantic City, Baltimore and DC to rock dance floors– all while studying to finish medical school at the top of her class by the end of spring.  Oh yes, K.Ash isn’t just a name for this Philly deejay—she’s gettin’ it too.

K.Ash began mixing music over six years ago after moving from Central Pennsylvania to Philadelphia to attend Swarthmore College.  With plans to play with records only until it was time to focus on medical school, K.Ash never really intended to be a big part of the party scene.  It wasn’t until 2009 when she competed against 10 other lady deejays and won first place in the Equality Forum’s Female Deejay Awards that she would garner the attention she needed to keep her in the game.  With proposals from Sisters nightclub, Stimulus, and Pulse to hold residencies and frequent parties, K.Ash was no longer a closet deejay phenomenon—she was out and on top.

Starting with vinyl, turntables (which she still favors and prefers because she enjoys scratching) and other traditional mixing apparatus, K.Ash quickly added onto her collection of equipment to ensure she was keeping up with technology and great levels of production.

“I’m a pretty firm believer that every deejay should know how to use any piece of equipment… if you’re serious about what you can do, there should be no situation where you don’t know how to handle it.  If there’s a piece of equipment that a club doesn’t have, you should be able to accommodate that,” K.Ash shares.

With an affinity for house, techno, pop, and hip-hop, K.Ash is also proficient in fusing all of these genres together to create a brand new mix, producing MASHUP sets for her audience to dance to.  As one of few MASHUP deejays in the city who also has great interest in production, K.Ash uses Serato, Ableton, and The Bridge along with her MAC, turntables, and a mixer when she is in the perfect situation.  The process of merging songs and sampling music to create amazing MASHUP matchups could be long and arduous work, but K.Ash says she enjoys it because it allows her to produce her own sampled tracks, some of which she plans to spin for the Silk City crowd at the MIGHTY#Heartbreakers party this Friday.

Recognized as one of Philly’s Premier lesbian deejays by Phillesbian Magazine and the only woman nominated as a top deejay by Philadelphia Gay News,  K.Ash enjoys being among some of the most sought after deejays in the LGBT community.  However, her ultimate goal is to engage larger, general audiences.  Her recent collaboration with A.D.D. has allowed her to break onto the international scene and showcase her mixing abilities to thousands of partygoers in Tel Aviv, Israel—a city that appreciates American hip-hop and has long been recognized as one of the world’s best gay cities.

However, while she is in this city, this Philly lady deejay is the go-to person for Stimulus and Pulse parties—the biggest and baddest hotspots for hot girls in the LGBT community.  Additionally, K.Ash rocks the house every Thursday night upstairs at Sisters nightclub in Center City.  This week, get an extra dose of K.Ash and watch her administer the remedy laced with dope music and sampled tracks at Silk City as two.one.five magazine and D24K present Mighty#Heartbreakers!

On Twitter? Follow K.Ash

Gun$ for Girls!

(photos by Tim Blackwell)

 

Loving bad bitches ain’t never been a problem for Regina Garcia Dyhouse aka Gun$ Garcia.  As a matter of fact, her affection for the ladies of music is what has gained notoriety for this popular bad girl of Philly deejays.  Gun$ Garcia, who has only been in the deejay circuit for three years, is the “newest” player amongst our list of Philly’s lady deejays.  However green this may seem, Gun$ is ripe with accomplishments and accolades.   With a chart topping mixtape under her belt (her Bad Bitches Bomb First compilation was #34 on SPIN magazine’s 40 Best Rap Albums of 2011), a forthcoming lady deejay collaboration effort being released for Valentine’s Day 2013, and an ongoing party for which she is a resident deejay, Gun$ Garcia makes wearing a skirt and packing a MAC and a mixer look incredibly easy.

In 2001, Gun$ moved to Philly from Maryland to attend Moore College of Art and got her deejay start several years later at the Barbary’s monthly open deejay night called The Fight Club.  Here, amateur deejays would line up for whiskey and beer pong before gracing the turntables to showcase their new skills in a 20-minute mixing set.  Both intrigued by the process and dismayed by the lack of women involved, Garcia asked her boyfriend, well-known deejay, Dirty South Joe, to show her how to build a 20-minute set to spin at the popular event.  After unloading several rounds of 20-minute sets at these monthly parties, Gun$ Garcia eventually became the most-winning deejay in The Fight Club competition and landed herself a party at the Barbary nightclub.

With a preference for Baltimore/Philly/Jersey club, trap, and new hip-hop music, Gun$ Garcia’s aim is to infuse most of her set with some of the dopest girl tracks to get a party going.  Her allegiance to girl power music and pop hits is what sets her apart from the deejays with whom she parties.  But Gun$ penchant for empowerment is evident in more than just her music tastes—one half of the up and coming lady deejay collective, Yellow Girl Mob, Gun$ has taught both her YGM partner, Marissa Le aka Yolo Ono and the award-winning lady deejay, Suga Shay, whose recent noteworthy performance in the Redbull Thre3Style Qualifier has made Gun$ Garcia a pretty proud bird.  She is quick to give props to some of her fave ladies (one of which includes local lady deejay, Ultraviolet, who is also featured in this series and to whom Gun$ pays homage for wanting to become a deejay) and talk about the camaraderie that is necessary to uphold a strong lady deejay presence in the city.

When asking the ultra-femme music spinster about her plans for the upcoming HGR/Mighty#Heartbreakers party and ways in which she plans to set herself apart from the other lady deejays, Garcia responds with a cool confidence, “I really don’t think any of them are gonna play anything like what I’m gonna play…” Yep, the Gun$ are out.

Follow Gun$ Garcia’s on Twitter and on SoundCloud and look for her all-girl deejay collaboration, Galentine’s Day, out this week.  You can also catch her on Valentine’s Day for Fashion in Action Benefit for ActionAids at Hotel Palomar in Philadelphia or  spinning at the weekly MAD DECENT MONDAY party at Silk City.

Find out how Philly’s Bad Bitches Bomb First at Silk City on Friday, February 22nd when two.one.five magazine presents Heineken Green Room’s Mighty#Heartbreakers with Gun$ Garcia and four other dope lady deejays in Philly.

The Faint Brings ‘Danse Macabre’ to The Troc

Photos by Kevin Nguyen

It was in April that fans got word that electronic/synth/pop/industrial/new wave/punk band (kind of hard to place them in one category) The Faint was back in the studio practicing together after a brief hiatus. Since the release and subsequent tour of their 2008 album Fasciination, The Faint has just this year alone released a remastered version of their 2001 album Danse Macabre, debuted a few new songs, and started playing shows again. Due to the re-release of Danse, they decided to make a tour out of it and perform it in its entirety to longtime, die hard fans.

It was a non-stop dance party on Thursday night at the Trocadero. Shoulder-to-shoulder people, glow sticks, everyone in their dance clothes, sweat everywhere. Even if you were sitting up in the balcony area of the venue, you couldn’t help but move. The Faint makes sure nobody is sitting/standing still.

They opened with a brand new song that has only been introduced during this current tour. A few months back they released a new single called “Evil Voices,” but most of the people who I spoke to at the show hadn’t heard this new guitar/drum heavy jam, “An Unseen Hand.” Lead singer Todd Fink’s unique and distinguished vocals reverberate throughout even though he only sings “I’m looking for an unseen hand” and “I’ve got this feeling and I don’t know why” over and over. It manages to build itself into a dark, disco direction. It’s also the type of song that lends itself well to a fun light show, and it most certainly did that.

They then went into “Dropkick the Punks” from Fasciination and”Desperate Guys” from Wet from Birth before actually started the Danse Macabre bit. It was nice having them mix it up in the beginning and the end of show. In addition to Danse (both the original and deluxe editions), they performed their more popular songs from Blank-Wave Arcade, Wet From Birth, and Fasciination. They even played their cover of Sonic Youth’s “Mote.”

When they started playing the opening track from Danse, “Agenda Suicide,” the entire audience flipped; for many people there, Danse is an album they know by heart. In fact, it’s one of Saddle Creek Records’ best selling. I think a lot of that stems from simply how accessible their music is. It’s poppy, catchy, and fun when you break it all down, but what I think makes The Faint  interesting is how they create darker music (lyrically and melodically) while keeping things unbelievably fun and entertaining.

Danse in itself is a dark album that’s very much driven by social topics and minor melodies. The economy, politics, self image, happiness, and insecurity are all involved within the songs. Even while they are performing, jamming out on stage (I really love how Fink’s stage presence meshes up with the music so well — he’s got this swagger that just doesn’t quit), they have video stock images running in the background of men at army base camps in the ’50s, men and women walking around with briefcases wearing suits, women at home in the kitchen heating up canned and boxed foods for their families, etc. What’s also cool about the screen they use to project the images is it’s in the shape of a Tetris piece.

The Faint has this ability to present their darker, socially conscious songs through a vessel that is contagious dance music without it completely taking away from the subject matter. They can be serious and fun at the same time without it being annoying or fluffy.

Since Danse ends on a slower, more somber note, the guys kept the party going with “The Geeks Were Right,” “Call Call,” “Mirror Error,” and “Worked Up So Sexual.” When they got off the stage, they of course came back on shortly after and encored with their new single “Evil Voices” (which is awesome), “I Disappear,” and “Paranoiattack.” Getting to yell “PARANOIA” with an entire room of people was so much fun.

I saw them during their Fasciination tour back in 2009 and I’m so happy I saw them again. I have this thing where I like to think of things in terms of food. This concert, to me, was something I’d been craving for a while — not something I could have all the time, but every now and then it just hits the spot. They deliver something so fun, solid, and nostalgic for me, I was all smiles after the show.

The Faint has mastered the art of developing super catchy, infectious beats that go to your ears and flow straight through the rest of your body causing it to move, sway, bounce, and jump around. You’re simply having a blast and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Philly Students “Take A Walk” To The Electric Factory

Photos by Kevin Nguyen

On Thursday night, Ra Ra Riot and Passion Pit took the Electric Factory by storm. And by that I mean hoards and hoards of late teens/early 20-somethings straight out of University City and Temple completely filled every inch of the space. There was absolutely nowhere to stand. I was lucky I found a nice spot on a stairwell at the top of the venue, but of course I wasn’t allowed to stand there for long without getting yelled at by some asshole security guy. Otherwise, it looked like people standing on top of people. It was an absolute madhouse.

 

While at this concert, I really felt like I was on a college campus with all the drunk, younger folks running around, taking pictures of themselves and putting them on Instagram and Facebook. Oh, and of course, plenty of pot smoke clouded the room; a necessary accessory for any concert or college campus. There were waves and waves of people jumping up and down, crowd surfing, going nuts to this stuff. Tons of couples were holding each other tightly, on the verge of tears singing the lyrics to all of these emotionally-driven, feel good songs.

Syracuse-based Ra Ra Riot kicked things off with “Too Too Too Fast,” one of their popular songs from their first album The Rhumb Line. They alternated between songs from their first album and their second, The Orchard. They even performed four new songs from their upcoming January release, Beta Love.

 

The band is well known for their heavy use of keyboard, violin, cello, and the lead singer Wes Miles’ tenor vocals. They’re also known for putting on great live performances – they did. The whole time the violinist, Rebecca Zeller, was playing, the wind from a fan was blowing her hair back; it made her violin playing seem extra epic.

While everyone was waiting for Passion Pit to take the stage, the venue couldn’t stop filling up. When you would think people would stop coming up the stairs, they didn’t. And, of course, every time someone walked on stage everyone in the audience yelled and woo-hoo’d! Then, the music that was playing on the speakers stopped in mid song and all of the lights went out. Everyone flipped out.

Passion Pit began their set with “Take A Walk” which was nice, I’m glad they got that one out of the way early on since I still hear it everywhere I go. Now, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like some of the poppy, catchy, ear candy music that is Passion Pit, but I wasn’t too impressed with Gossamer; definitely more partial to the first album, Manners. Speaking of, they did a good job of playing songs from both albums, including playing “Live to Tell the Tale” from their EP Chunk of Change. They encored with “Moth’s Wings” and “Little Secrets.”

I got to give them credit, they put on a good live show. Lots of flashy, seizure inducing lights and Micheal Angelakos hitting those absurdly high notes, flailing around, jumping up and down like he’s throwing a fit on stage. By the end of the show, confetti streamers and glitter rocketed through the air. They definitely manage to keep a crowd going.

The effect that Passion Pit has on people is very interesting to me. After reading some articles on and listening to a Sound Opinions interview with Angelakos, he’s very open about the fact that the dark, depressing lyrics he writes stem from his battle with bipolar disorder. Yet, he mashes those up with some very happy, catchy, mood heightening, electropop instrumentals — the music is meant to be characteristic of the highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder. He says in the Sound Opinions interviews he believes life is full of emotion and he wants his music to represent that. So, to see young people flipping out, almost crying because they were so happy to be at this Passion Pit show, singing all the lyrics they know by heart, it makes me wonder if they’re even paying attention to what their singing about.

I think that’s just what Passion Pit’s shtick is, though. If you set anything to a fun beat that’s sing-along worthy, people are going to sing and dance no matter what. Even if the song is about feeling suicidal, just sugar coat it and make it go na-na-na-na hey hey hey. People will eat it up.