New Pornographers at Union Transfer, Phila. 11/20/14

By Aurora Wetherill of LightsOn w/ Aurora, Thursdays at 10pm.

Last Thursday, 11/20/14, a darling friend of mine took me to see the New Pornographers in Philadelphia at Union Transfer, a show at the end of their “Brill Bruisers” tour. It was fantastic. Herein lies the account of my experience.

First off, I’ve got a bone to pick with Philadelphia. I’m from Philly, and I love the place dearly, but god these people do not understand concert conduct. At a Philadelphia show, you either encounter a bunch of drunk under 21 year-olds being generally raucous and disrespectful, or you end up with a bunch of sullen hipsters who refuse to demonstrate their joy. There is almost no crowd action in Philly and it’s been like this my whole concert-going career. I went with an older friend and he says it wasn’t always like this. My friend, half way through the show, said to me “jesus christ, Aurora these people should be jumping up and down in unison, this place should reek of sweat and everyone should be so excited to be here. This show is amazing, what is wrong with these people?!” You can never tell if a Philly crowd is into the show until you hear their applause. I think they liked the show. They definitely should have liked the show. But we’ll never know. Moving on.

A poor quality photo of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

A poor quality photo of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

So the intro band was great. They were The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and they kicked ass. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have accompanied the New Pornographers on their tour, and have received acclaim from such outlets as Pitchfork and the New York Times. They were so energetic, utilizing the male high tenor vocals I miss from the “scene” era of my teenage years, the gorgeous harmonies that only a pitch perfect mixed gender vocal duo can deliver, and a unique and vivacious indie-pop style all their own. (By the way, I should mention that I deplore the label “indie.” Does that simply refer to independent labels? Is it a genre of music that all shares a common theme or style? No, it’s neither of those, damn it. Fun’s music is definitively indie, but they’re popular and currently signed to Fueled By Ramen, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, a decidedly major label. What I’m saying is that indie is a meaningless term and we should stop using it.) They were loud, talented, and adorable; I felt like I could have gone to school with them. The highlight of their set was their penultimate song, Eurydice (link here.) I’ll be interviewing them soon so, stay tuned, folks.


The author and Kip Berman, lead singer and guitarist; bros.

I guess I’ll finally talk about the New Pornographers. That sounded morose; I do not feel morose about this band. They are amazing. (The photograph at the top is the only one I could snap of the NPs before the bouncer shut me down; “no photos allowed” meant a much more engaging experience, on the whole, anyway.) The New Pornographers are a Canadian band hailing from British Columbia, formed in 1999, and interestingly they are one of our featured artists this semester! If you know anything about this band, you know that it’s full of amazing, talented performers and songwriters, all driven to create great albums; you probably also know that their individual careers have on many occasions absconded with them. This show, however, included all of the the elusive contributors, including Neko Case, Carl Newman, and Dan Bejar, who have rarely performed all together since 2005. It was so exciting! They also played 26 songs. 21 of the songs were their regular set, and then they did a three song encore, and then they did a two song encore. The played for two hours! That is insane. The really neat thing about the New Pornographers’ music is that every song features one or two heavily repeated lines, allowing even new listeners to sing along with pride. There were plenty of Neko songs, Carl songs, and Dan songs, and we even got a song by their lovely keyboardist Kathryn Calder, who is, as it turns out, Carl Newman’s niece. Their show was marked by the constant flow of performers onto and off of the stage. Newman stayed on pretty much the whole time, but Neko Case and Dan Bejar ran on and off, to either recover or drink beer. About half way through the show, Bejar brought Newman a beer, and Newman took the opportunity to mention something along the lines of: “ah yes, Canadians are weird, but we are American…yes we are American.” They are silly. Musical highlights from the show were the introductory song, the titular “Brill Bruisers,” and also off their new album, “Marching Orders.” Their two encores were also brilliant, although I found the length of the whole show rather exhausting. But that’s probably because I was the only person dancing. After the second encore, the ever-bizarre Neko Case left us with this: “take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.” Thanks, Neko.

twitter: @rortortle


A Very Tropical Interview w/ Thero

By Aurora Wetherill, of LightsOn w/ Aurora, Thursdays@10pm.

So, Thero is amazing. “Who is Thero?” you might ask. Well, he’s the man. He’s producing some of the most innovative and invigorating tropical house music to date. He’s the man out-doing his heros. And you definitely haven’t heard of him yet.

You might also be wondering what tropical house music is. It’s house music characterized by synthetic bongos, steel drums, and flutes, and it floats somewhere around 110 beats per minute. It essentially makes you feel like you’re lying in the shade of a palm tree sharing a cool drink with the love of your life. If you don’t like it, you probably don’t like anything lovely and you probably don’t use your vacation days either.

Thero, which is the tropical house moniker of Connecticut-born TJ Sarda, has been twisting lesser songs into full on badass sax-infused low-BPM tropical bangers for about 6 months now, although he has been producing for three years. He says he really only found his sound this past Spring, and that he was heavily influenced by tropical house innovators Kygo and Klingande. He has no formal musical training, but he has an obvious comprehension and proficiency with his material. He began producing after he saw Avicii play at Red Rocks (in CO) back in 2011– he says something just clicked, and he knew he needed to make music.

So this guy is pretty young. He only graduated from Notre Dame University this past May, with a degree in entrepreneurship. He’s got a day job as an innovation consultant at a small firm, and says that music is just his “side hustle.” I asked him if he felt like he was about to get mega-famous, and he responded with great humility: “I’m just doin what I love and people dig it. What more could you ask for?”

We talked a little about the state of music these days, and how there’s really only money in live performance. He gives all of his music away for free on his Facebook and his Soundcloud, by the way. These days, people don’t just want to see their favorite artist perform; they want to see him blow their damn minds with insane lasers and confetti and champagne showers. I asked Thero if he was ready for it, to which he responded, “if people want to see me play, I’ll play. That’s how it’ll be.” Thero is going to do Thero and he doesn’t care if the world isn’t into it. But for reference, the world is totally into it. He’s got over 800,000 plays on Soundcloud.

Thero’s two all-time favorite bands are the Dave Matthews Band and Slightly Stoopid. I asked him if he would assess himself as a “bro” and he gave me a hard “maybe.” I think he would have been an IBNM major if he had attended Dickinson. His current jam is the sweet soul song, “Coming Home,” by Leon Bridges, and he says he’s been into Filous and Snbrn lately as well. He also mentioned that he’s a dog person, which he followed up with “sorry.” He’s definitely not sorry.

I’m personally a mega-fan of this guy, and when I nerd out to him, he always responds to my messages and sometimes he sends me his works in progress. The man knows how to build rapport. Thero gained a fan for life.

I asked Thero how he keeps it tropical on frosty days like today, and he gave me some truly wise words: “Just remember to smile. People get so caught up in life. Sometimes you just need to step back and appreciate everything.” Keep it tropical, folks.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, he’s got plans for a Spring ’15 tour. You can find out more and download all of his sweet tropical beats here:

Thero’s Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter.

I highly recommend his mix of “Comes and Goes,” by Greg Lasswell, and his mix of “Mrs. Cold,” by Kings of Convenience. 

Don’t forget to follow him on twitter! @TheroMusic

Follow Aurora @rortortle


Kygo w/ Thomas Jack, Endless Summer Tour, Union Transfer, Phila. 10/17/14

By Aurora Wetherill, of LightsOn w/ Aurora, Thursdays @10pm.

Have you heard of this tropical house music? It’s this new thing all the kids are listening to, heavy on the synthetic flutes and steel drums, with epic drops remixed into familiar media. If you know tropical house, odds are you know the name Kygo. Kygo is a 23 year old Norwegian man with a funny voice and a great relationship with his fans. He has remixed such gems as Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and The Weekend’s “Often.” People like him. I like him. I saw him and his compatriot, Thomas Jack, on their Endless Summer tour at Union Transfer on the Friday of fall pause.

First off, Union Transfer is an excellent venue. They keep the place cool, the bathrooms are accessible, and water is fairly cheap. I got in before the rest of the patrons because I am over 21, which is pretty sweet. The bouncers remember faces, so you can drop in and drop out as you please.

We arrived shortly before Thomas Jack went on. He came on, and everyone pushed forward to get a closer look at his goofy curly locks and smile. He did a fairly good job of keeping the audience’s attention, and he played a goodly number of original mixes. He played his spectacular mix of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and we went crazy on our own, a distance away from the awful crowd, tucked in near the exit. An underage EDM crowd is a terrible sea to try to swim; you have been warned.


Thomas Jack, spinning wonderful house jams.

Kygo himself was excellent, and extremely engaging. He only played a couple of new mixes, and didn’t do any real mixing during the show, at least from what I could tell. But he ordered the songs well and provided pleasant tropically themed visual backdrops for the set. The crowd was very emotionally responsive and was the most lively I’ve literally ever seen at a Philly show. For the finale, he played his mix of The Weekend’s “Often,” and the crowd just melted. It got fairly sensual in there.

Basically: tickets were cheap (20$,) parking was REALLY cheap, and I got to hear some of my favorite jams pumped at levels usually wildly unacceptable for my surroundings. Overall, a pretty solid night.

Follow @ourulan