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Our weekly concert picks: March 11–March 17

What we’re seeing live this week!

What we're seeing live this week!

Thursday, March 12: Craft Spells

I first fell in love with Craft Spells back in 2011, when I heard most perfect song "After the Moment." It was the Second Summer of Chillwave when the band (really just one man, Justin Vallesteros) first burst onto the scene, and while his debut record — the wispy, dreamy Idle Labour — was solid, it was this song that really lured me in, its bouncy keyboard line and effortless refrain reminiscent of a lost New Order single (even the cover art looks New Order-y). Three and a half years later, Vallesteros has moved past his New Order worship, but not his Peter Hook-approved (we're sure) focus on vibes. His latest offering, Nausea, is the result of a year spent with intense writer's block, during which he learned to play piano, moved from California to Seattle, and stepped away from social media—which was causing him actual nausea, he claims (us too Justin, us too). Along the way he picked up a full band and recorded Nausea, a lusher, twinkly-er collection of dream pop gems. He brings them to Boot & Saddle this Thursday; show up early for likeminded Philly haze-pop confessionalists and band to watch, Suburban Living.

8:30 at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., $10–12. Tickets available here.


Friday, March 13: Will Butler

Will Butler, Canadian musician, is perhaps best known for his contributions to sweeping indie giants Arcade Fire, and for sharing his DNA (and most letters of his name) with older brother and Arcade founder Win. In Arcade Fire, he's more of a side man (although anyone who's seen the band live can attest to his zest for antics) — but it turns out he has front man tendencies, too. His debut solo record, Policy (out yesterday) is a quirky, fun romp through new wave, rockabilly, rock, and more, that shies away from Arcade Fire's big question themes in favor of spontaneity and charm. Cobbled together from song fragments he'd been nursing for years, it already feels classic — and this Friday, he'll bring the songs to life in his first headlining tour in his 10+ year career. We recommend this show because Will's a great talent … but for hardcore Arcade Fire fans looking for a chance to get intimate (à la their First Unitarian Church performance more than a decade back) … we suppose this works for those purposes too.

8:30 at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., sold out.

Saturday, March 14: Conversations

For the past decade, Jessica and Josh Craft have been intimately involved in the local music scene, whether performing, teaching, or acting as advocates for music education. As Founding Executive Director and Program Director for Rock to the Future, they've literally made it their business teaching music to disadvantaged kids; when not inspiring youths they play with their own band, Conversations. The latest offshoot of the band Conversations with Enemies (who were legit one of our fave acts back in their heyday) — Conversations offers the same cheery indie pop energy you've come to expect of the pair, but trades CWE's horns and Eastern stomp for a low-key, folksy twang that puts the focus back on Craft's wordy, confessional-style lyrics. This Saturday they celebrate the release of debut record Totally Redeem Yourself with a release party at PhilaMOCA — show up early for two openers that were also once a part of awesome bands (and still rule now): Dead Milkmen Joe Jack Talcum plus Dogs on Acid (featuring members of Algernon Cadwallader).

7:00 at PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., $7–10. Tickets available at the door. 

Sunday, March 15: Satellite Hearts 

Satellite Hearts won me over just two weeks ago, opening for Illinois at Johnny Brenda's. It was a freezing, snowy night, the kind that chills you to the bone. Yet the trio's infectious, high-energy jams easily warmed the crowd like whiskey down the hatch: bold, complex, and with a good kick. Formed in 2009 by friends in New Hope, Pa. (they've since relocated to Philly), Satellite Hearts were inspired to kick things up a notch after a nod from Ween front man Dean Ween (also a New Hope-r); they boast an almost cult-like following in New Hope these days as a result. And while they haven't quite reached those levels of popularity in Philly — yet — we'd be lying if we said we don't think they'll get there. Combining classic rock'n roll tropes with brash punk attitude and insatiable live energy that recollects early Strokes, before they became old and disillusioned—Satellite Hearts stand out thanks to a hunger and rawness impossible to fake. They headline KFN this Sunday; come lose yourself in rock'n roll vibes.

8:00 at Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., $6. Tickets available at the door.