On Stage: Get some joy from ‘Hate’ tour at The Troc

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Night Club

On June 9, the Trocadero (10th and Arch streets, Philadelphia, 215-922-6888, www.thetroc.com) is hosting the “Everybody Still Hates You Tour.” Obviously, it will not be an evening filled with Americana, smooth jazz or sensitive singer/songwriters.

The tour features Combichrist as the headliner along with Wednesday 13, Night Club, Prison, and Death Valley High.

Night Club is an electronic duo from Los Angeles featuring Emily Kavanaugh and Mark Brooks.

“We met in L.A. a few years ago through mutual friends,” said Brooks, during a recent phone interview form a tour stop in Michigan.

“We shared eclectic music tastes. So, we started making music together. The thing that’s great about this band is that there is just two of us. It’s very self-contained. If we like it, we put it out. There is no outside pressure.”

Night Club released its first single “Lovestruck” in July 2012 and its self-titled debut EP in September 2012. A video for “Lovestruck” was released in September 2012 in conjunction with the release of the EP. Night Club released a video for the second single “Control” in February 2013 and then put out its second EP “Love Casualty” in June 2013. In conjunction with the EP release, the band released three videos – “Poisonous,” “Strobe Light” and “Give Yourself Up.”

Th band’s third EP “Black Leather Heart” came out in September 2014 along with three videos – “Need You Tonight,” “She Wants To Play With Fire” and “Not In Love.”

Finally, Night Club released its first full-length LP “Requiem for Romance” with three accompanying videos – “Bad Girl,” “Dear Enemy” and “Show It 2 Me.” The album reached #2 on the CMJ RPM chart and was voted best non-metal album by Metal Injection in 2016.

The duo has been staying busy ever since its inception. Kavanaugh and Brooks also scored the Comedy Central series “Moonbeam City” as well as the film “Nerdland” starring Paul Rudd & Patton Oswalt.

“We have our own studio and have always made our recordings ourselves,” said Brooks.

Night Club has a new album ready to see the light of day very soon – “Scary World.”

“The album drops on August 24,” said Brooks. “The main difference between this one and our earlier recordings is that this is a little more personal record. We put more of ourselves into it – personal stuff, mental illness, personal problems.”

Kavanaugh said, “We’ve taken it to the next level – tapping into our depressions. ‘Scary World’ is really about the internal scary world. Both of us deal with depression constantly. And, we’ve had a history of mental illness in our families.

Brooks said, “The music here is industrial and pop. It’s complicated. We’ve always liked minor key stuff — and it’s pop and catchy. We usually write the instrumentals first. The darkness and the weirdness start with the instrumentals. The development of the music starts most of the time with chords or a melody line.

“The band is 50-50. We write everything together. We go in-and-out with bursts of creativity. We go on a journey.”

Night Club’s journey during the current shows is a relatively short one.

“We’re in the middle of five bands and we have a 30-minute set,” said Brooks. “We’re eclectic and the others are hard rock. We could play a longer set obviously but 30 minutes is great when you have five bands. I think a half-hour is pretty good for us. We’ll be playing three tracks from the new album.”

Video link for Night Club — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckTkBY6t2Dc&feature=youtu.be.

Death Valley High

There is no Death Valley High in Death Valley, California. Death Valley High is alive and well.

Death Valley Unified School District (DVUSD) is a public-school district in Inyo County, California. DVUSD is the largest school district in California in terms of square miles covered, but one of the smallest in terms of student enrollment. In 2012, the entire district served only 60 students.

There is a Death Valley Elementary School and a Death Valley Academy – but no Death Valley High.

Death Valley High does exist in Northern California. It is a goth/alternative band from the Bay Area featuring Reyka Osburn – vocals, guitar, Adam Bannister – drums, Huffy Hafera – bass, and Sean Bivins – guitars.

“We started 13 years ago doing shows locally in San Francisco,” said Osburn, during a recent phone interview from a tour stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We released our first record in 2008. The band became a permanent thing in 2010 and we made our second record. The line-up we have now – me, Adam, Huffy and Sean – has been together since 2015.”

Crafting the perfect soundtrack to a romp in the dark, Death Valley High merges traditional goth music and modern alternative music and then throws cinematic rock, new wave, and dance music into the mix. It all came together on the band’s 2016 full-length “CVLT [AS FVK] ,” which was released on minusHEAD Records.

Death Valley High has toured almost non-stop since the album’s release – since the release of its “Positive Euth” album in 2013.

“We’re pretty much done with the tour cycle for ‘CVLT [AS FVK],’” said Osburn. “We’re basically coming off that full cycle.

“I’m always writing. I’ve got eight new songs that we’re working on. One of them will be released as a non-album single after this tour.”

Last year was a rocky year in some ways for the Bat Area band.

“We did a European tour last March and April and it made us broke,” said Osburn. “In the middle of the tour, it imploded. We came back without any money. I had a broken foot. I was ready to come home and heal.”

Death Valley High fans are ready for a new album, but it won’t be coming real soon.

“None of the eight new songs are cut yet,” said Osburn. “I’ve been writing with an old producer friend Eric Stenman. “We’ll probably make the record with him in Malibu.”

Death Valley High recorded “CVLT [AS FVK]” several years ago in Los Angeles with iconic producer Ulrich Wilde, who is known for his work with White Zombie and the Deftones.

“Recording “CVLT [AS FVK]’ with Ulrich was a great experience,” said Osburn. “We learned a lot from him.”

Now, Death Valley High is bringing its music to its originals fans and a whole lot of new listeners on the “Everybody Still Hates You Tour.”

“Our main audience is hardcore and death rock,” said Osburn. “But, when we tour, we can fit with bands from a lot of metal genres.”

Video link for Death Valley High – https://youtu.be/p10KU2yKv0Y.

The show at the Trocadero will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25.

Other upcoming shows at the Trocadero are “Second Annual Summer Scorcher” on June 10 and awakebutstillinbed on June 13.

Judah Kim

Judah Kim & The Assassination just released their debut album “Dark Circles” and celebrated with a CD Release Party last month at

MilkBoy Philly. Now, they are they are performing on June 9 at “The Top Of The World Concert Series” for Philly Beer Week at Whole Foods – Plymouth Meeting (500 W Germantown Pike, Plymouth Meeting, www.wholefoodsmarket.com).

“We started recording ‘Dark Circles’ back in November,” said Kim, during a phone interview Friday afternoon from his home in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania.

“When I first started writing for the album, I really tried a different approach. Instead of strumming on guitar and letting songs come out, I incorporated a looping station as a way to get me started – drum or guitar parts that I couldn’t usually play.

“I think I did a whole month working with ideas. I’d get ideas and then pull them from the loops. I was writing with the idea that I’d eventually have a band. I didn’t have one at the time. I thought about how I could re-create the songs on stage with a band.”

Eventually, Kim did put a group together.

Band members Bob Cahill (ex-Downtown Harvest, Pocket Deal) on bass, Isaac Windle (The Strange Heat, Pocket Dial) on guitar, Jon McNally (Agent Moosehead) on drums and percussion and Kim (Stonethrown) on songwriting and vocals, all attended Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in Plymouth Meeting. The only non-PW grad is Kevin Cox on guitar, keyboards and background vocals.

“June 9 will be the anniversary of our first performance,” said Kim. “Our first gig was at the start of summer and then we recorded the album in November.

“Bob Cahill and I grew up together but always were in different bands. I was doing guest vocals for another artist at Top of the World back in 2016. Bob called me the next day and said we should put a band together. I was apprehensive at first because we had different styles of writing.

“When the new year came around, we had begun to play together. We were looking for a guitarists and Isaac Windle had played in one of Bob’s bands. Then, we added multi-instrumentalist Kevin Cox who was a friend of Isaac’s.”

Once the band was set and the songs were ready, the next step was to make an album.

“We cut the album at Kawari Sound in Wyncote,” said Kim. “I wanted to try something different. A friend referred me to this studio. I produced the album there and did some at my own studio — Scarlet Oak Sound.

Citing influences such as Muse, Rooney and the Strokes, Kim wrote all the songs on the new album with the “shuffle mentality” of contemporary listeners in mind.

“I tried to not think about having a certain theme or vibe for the album because it becomes paralyzing,” said Kim. “I wrote a bunch of stuff and then pulled the best pieces together.

“With music, I like to mix things up as a nod to the way people listen to music today – to try to step out of the box a little. With music styles in this time era, it’s not as black-an-white as it has been. Everything is different. The thing is to try to find a way to be accessible without being boring. I just try to write – to write all the time – to write songs about independent thought and being who you are.”

Video link for Judah Kim – https://youtu.be/uhKQwgUGOKA.

The “The Top Of The World Concert Series” will run from 8 p.m.-midnight. Tickets are free.

Dom Flemons’ latest musical project — “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” — is interesting, very listenable and very educational.

On June 10, Flemons will perform his new album in concert at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams on June 7, Blues Beatles on June 8, The Soul Survivors on June 9, Dom Flemons on June 10, Gaelic Storm on June 11, Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett on June 12, and Geoff Tate’s 30th Anniversary of “Operation: Mindcrime” on June 13.

“Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” pays tribute to the music, culture, and the complex history of the golden era of the Wild West. In this single volume of music, Flemons explores and reanalyzes this important part of our American identity. The songs and poems featured on the album are meant to take the listener on an illuminating journey from the trails to the rails of the old west. This is a century old story that follows the footsteps of the thousands of African American pioneers that helped build the United States of America.”

Flemons previously was in Carolina Chocolate Drops, a Grammy-winning group that focused on the music of African-American string bands from a century ago. He was featured on bones, jug, guitar, and four-string banjo.

The instruments featured on “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” include six-string banjo, cow “rhythm” bones, fiddle; fife, Fraulini Angelina six-string guitar, Fraulini Angelina six-string guitar-banjo, guitarrón, harmonica; Hawaiian guitar, kazoo, mandolin, marching bass drum, Original Hound Dog resonator guitar, plectrum four-string banjo, quills (musical instrument, snare drum; Stella 12-string guitar, and upright bass.

The first album of its kind, “Black Cowboys” takes the listener on an illuminating journey “from the trails to the rails” of the Old West. The 18-song set traverses a varied soundscape featuring string blues, old-time square dance music, and cowboy poetry. Flemons is joined by a celebrated group of backing musicians throughout the record, such as GRAMMY-winning bluesman Alvin “Youngblood” Hart, Jimbo Mathus (Squirrel Nut Zippers), and decorated folklorist and Folkways’ director emeritus Dan Sheehy, who co-produced the album.

“Black cowboys have been under-represented,” said Flemons, during a phone interview Friday afternoon from his home in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“They’re still around – and they’re still under-represented in the popular image of the American cowboy.

“My research was a combination of library research and field research. Two important research items I found were the book ‘The Negro Cowboys’ by Philip Durham and a recording called ‘The Black Texicans.’ Black cowboys were called ‘Black Vaqueros.’”

“Black Texicans: Balladeers & Songsters” is an album of field recordings made in the 1930s by noted American musicologists John Lomax and his son Alan Lomax. The album has 29 performances from 1933-1940, most of them previously unreleased. It reflects various aspects of black Texas repertoire, particularly cowboy songs (Texas had a higher percentage of black cowboys than other regions did), but also some blues, work songs, and tunes identified with the songster and minstrel traditions, performed a cappella or with guitar and harmonica accompaniment. It features one track by the legendary blues master Leadbelly.

“I had been very casually collecting material on black cowboys,” said Flemons. “My search also came from family interests. I’m half-black and half-Mexican. I knew it was time to do this project and that the Smithsonian Institute and the National Museum of African American History and Culture would put it out.

“Being from the South, I knew it was a good idea. The era it focuses on mostly is the mid-1860s to the 1890s and up to the 1920s.

“The black cowboys were working-class people working the ranches and building their communities. They were in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana and then migrated west to Arizona and Oklahoma. In the Southwest, it mixed with Mexican culture and blended those cultures. People wanted land and wanted to be able to do their own thing. The music they had was a shared tradition.”

Flemons’ new album delves into the wide variety of traditions on black cowboy music.

“The well-known songs ‘Home on the Range’ and ‘Goodbye Old Paint’ were black cowboys songs,” said Flemons, who has been working as a solo artist since 2013.

“The songs on the album represent a lot of styles including North Carolina Piedmont music, blues, old-time music, steel pony blues and East Texas blues. It is musical anthology. Music connects everybody. It opens doors in many ways.”

Video link for Dom Flemons – https://youtu.be/qVJVOmMBNug.

The show at the Sellersville Theater will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $21.50 and $30.

Other upcoming shows at the Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams on June 7, Blues Beatles on June 8, The Soul Survivors on June 9, Dom Flemons on June 10, are Gaelic Storm on June 11, Paul Barrere & Fred Tackett on June 12, and Geoff Tate’s 30th Anniversary of “Operation: Mindcrime” on June 13.

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