On Stage: Experiencing BIRTHH in Philly tonight

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Alice Bisi

All living human beings have experienced birth. All fans of popular music should experience BIRTHH.

Area music fans can experience BIRTHH live on Aug. 2 at PhilaMOCA (531 North 12th Street, Philadelphia, 267-519-9651, www.philamoca.org).

BIRTHH is the stage name of Alice Bisi, a talented young musician from Firenze, Italy. She released her debut album “Born in the Woods” in 2016 and is working on songs for her sophomore album.

“I grew up in Firenze up on a hill,” said Bisi, during a phone interview Wednesday afternoon from a tour stop in New York City.

“My father is a musician. He does it in his free time. So, I had music as a natural thing. But, that wasn’t the reason I became a musician.

“When I was young, I saw this film and it made me want to be a drummer. It really made me realize that I wanted to make music. I started studying classical guitar when I was six and stared writing songs when I was eight. Instead of playing with dolls, I was playing music.

“The first time I performed outside my house was in middle school at an end-of-school party. I performed with my band at the time. My first professional show was five-to-six years ago at a small venue in Bologna.”

BIRTHH’s debut was filled with songs of a darker nature. It featured songs such as “Queen of Failureland,” “Prelude for the Loveless,” “Interlude for the Lifeless,” “Interlude for the Hopeless,” and “For the Heartless.”

In the song “Wraith,” she sang, “I’ll be poison in your blood / And I’ll be darkness in your eyes / And I’ll be propane in your lungs.” In another song – “Chlorine” – Bisi sang, “You’re chlorine in my veins / The blood flooding to my brain.”

When asked why such dark lyrics, Bisi replied, “Being a teenager not knowing what to do with my life. I was feeling a bit blue. I explained what I was going through at the time.”

With all her lyrics, Bisi shows a strong command of the English language – especially for someone who has never lived in the United States or the United Kingdom.

“I don’t write in Italian,” said Bisi. “I’ve always written in English. It comes out more naturally. But, I’m an Italian. I’m not an English or American wannabe. I grew up reading Italian literature.”

Bisi also explained why she chose to perform as BIRTHH.

“I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of origin,” said Bisi, who will turn 22 in October. “BIRTHH is certain and uncertain at the same time. Everything around us has been born. Finding the origin is more complicated.”

When Bisi performs in Europe, it is usually with her band. Her tour of America this summer is as a solo act.

“It’s me with an electronic set-up,” said Bisi. “I’m going to build all the songs from scratch with looping. I have a drum pad, keyboard and guitar. I loop everything and sing with it. It’s the most fun I’ve done without a band. I do like playing with a band also.

“I have new songs I’m working on for my next album. I had an album out a few years ago. I’ll be doing songs from that album and 10 songs from the next album. I just want to test the songs before I record them.”

Video link for BIRTHH – https://youtu.be/8UblL3uxZYI.

The show at PhilaMOCA, which also features Work Drugs and Ryan M. Todd, will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $14.

Other upcoming shows at PhilaMOCA are Deakin on August 4, Takénobu on August 5 and Kraus on August 7.


Julien-K is out on a national tour called “The Revolution 3 Tour” with Stone Temple Pilots, Bush and The Cult.

On off days, Julien-K is filling in with headline club dates. One of those solo shows is scheduled for August 2 at the Voltage Lounge (421 North Seventh Street, Philadelphia, 215- 964-9602, www.voltagelounge.com).

Julien-K is an indietronica band that began as a side project for electronic music created by Amir Derakh and Ryan Shuck when they were paying in the band Orgy. The band’s name comes from the movie “American Gigolo” in which Richard Gere’s character was named Julian Kaye.

Derakh and Shuck have been musical partners for more than 15 years. In the late 90s, they were responsible for hits such as “Blue Monday,” “Stitches,” and “Fiction” with Orgy, and “Crawl Back In” and “Let Down” with Dead By Sunrise (with their friend Chester Bennington).

The two veteran musicians have spent the last 10 years methodically moving away from the mainstream approach that put them on the map — opting to steer their fans in a new direction toward their new independent alternative electro rock project Julien-K.

In 2009, Julien-K released its debut album “Death to Analog,” which included long-time collaborators Anthony “Fu” Valcic and Brandon Belsky. In 2012, the band released its sophomore album “We’re Here With You.”

In 2014, Julien-K launched its new album cycle with a three-song prelude to an ambitious double concept album called “California Noir.”

The concept continued in 2015 and 2016 with successful Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns and two self-released albums – “California Noir: Analog Beaches and Digital Cities” and “California Noir: Nightlife in Neon.”

In 2017, the band released “Time Capsule: A Future Retrospective” – a four-disk, 64-song mega-package which featured unreleased songs, B-sides, never heard before remixes, and live versions of some of the band’s biggest hits.

Julien-K has become a crowdfunding giant, with all four of its campaigns hitting and holding the #1 Indiegogo chart position for the duration of the campaigns.

“We just started an Indiegogo campaign for our next album,” said Shuck, during a phone interview Tuesday from a tour stop in Boston. “It’s our fifth crowdfunding and already it’s gone to Number One.

“The album, which will be called ‘Harmonic Disruptor,’ is not finished — but that’s the point of crowdfunding. Our fans are our record label. We have no marketing, no label – we just go direct.

“We’ve been recording the music for it for a while. We use two recording studios in Long Beach (CA). One is Amir’s studio and the other is my studio.”

The album’s recording has been moving along at a steady pace.

“We have 13-14 songs that are listenable,” said Shuck, who grew up in Taft, California. “We’ll probably write 30 songs or more and then pick the best.

“Then, we’ll let the other songs decide what we’ll do with them – maybe EPs or B-sides. I’m sure we’ll have material that is very good but doesn’t musically fit the album.

“On our last project, which was crowdfunded, we put out a four-disk set that had all the stuff that didn’t see the light of day from the last 10 years. It’s one of our best-selling indie releases.”

Derakh and Shuck have been a strong songwriting team ever since they teamed up in Orgy in 1994.

“We write separately, and we write together,” said Shuck. “I will typically write on guitar and bring it to the band. Amir is a conceptual writer with technology and effects – odd drum machines and interesting old synths. When I write, it could start with a lyric, a riff, a line or a melody. It’s always different.”

Video link for Julien-K – https://youtu.be/U7HOptfkkQo.

The all-ages show at the Voltage Lounge, which has The Russian White as the opening act, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14.

Other upcoming shows at the Voltage Lounge are Psychostick on August 5 and De Lux on August 7.


On August 3, one of the best new bands from Australia will make a return visit to the area. On Friday night, Castlecomer will headline a show at Kung Fu Necktie (1248 North Front Street, Philadelphia, 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com).

Castlecomer – Bede, vocals; Tommy, guitar; Neely, keyboards; Joe, bass; Patch, drums – has been performing professionally in Australia since 2015.

“We’re all from Sydney, Australia,” said Bede Kennedy, during a phone interview Tuesday evening. “We grew up in a working-class section – an area known as the Inner West.

“Four of us are related and the keyboard player is our best friend since kindergarten. We all lived within three blocks of each other when we were growing up. But, we’ve all since moved out of Inner West.

“‘We’ve been making music together our whole life but we didn’t get serious as a band until about five years ago. It was in 2105 when we really decided to go for it seriously. We had been writing good tunes and getting better as musicians.

“I quit my day job and wrote 200 songs in six months tine. At first, we had three different names we’d play under so that we could play five shows a week. Since then we’ve played more than 500 shows.”

Castlecomer took a big step forward when it took a big step geographically.

“We never left Australia until 2017,” said Kennedy. “We came to America to play at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

“The way we saw it – America is the biggest market in the world for rock-and-roll. We were all working full-time jobs and doing the band in Australia. We felt we had to come to America and just focus on our music.

“We had just one five-track EP prior to leaving Australia. Altogether now, we’ve released three EPs with four or five songs each. We didn’t want to make our debut album until we had enough experience at recording.”

Castlecomer’s song “Fire Alarm” played a big role in the band’s breakthrough.

“‘Fire Alarm’ was the first song I wrote after we got dropped by a local label in Australia,” said Kennedy. “We got dropped because we weren’t taking it seriously enough.”

With its driving beat and earworm of a melody, “Fire Alarm” was a runaway hit on Spotify, where it reached #6 on the Global Viral chart and racked up more than five million streams.

According to Kennedy, “When I wrote ‘Fire Alarm,’ I decided then and there to quit my day job and focus solely on music. That song marked this cathartic moment where I really put a stake in the ground and committed to going all in. For the next 12 months, I did nothing but write for nine hours a day — every single day.”

After signing with Concord Records, the band took a leap of faith in early 2018 and moved to the United States.

“We’ve finished recording our debut album,” said Kennedy. “It’s mixed and mastered and pretty much ready to go. We did it all in Sydney in four sessions with three producers. There are 11 tracks – five rock songs, three ballads and three tunes that are more pop-leaning. Our music is straight-ahead rock – no frills – hit the ground running”

When Castlecomer hits he stage in Philly Friday night, it’s a safe bet that the hard-rocking quintet from Down Under will be ready to hit the ground running — and kick some serious ass.

Video link for Castlecomer – https://youtu.be/h5pxUgCcXYk.

The show at Kung Fu Necktie, which has Rexdog as the opener, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12.

Other upcoming shows at Kung Fu Necktie are Birds In Row on August 2, Wino on August 4, the Dollyrots on August 6 and the Pink Spiders on August 7.

Julie Goldman

Another interesting show on August 3 will take place at the Rrazz Room (6426 Lower York Road, New Hope, 888-596-1027, www.TheRrazzRoom.com) when the cabaret in Bucks County presents Julie Goldman.

Goldman is a nationally-known comedian with two shows that were featured on the Bravo network – “The People’s Couch” and “Vanderpump Rules After Show.” She also is known for her work on LOGO’s “Big Gay Sketch Show” and “Gay Skit Happens.”

She has also been a guest star on several TV shows including MTV’s “Faking It” and the upcoming HBO reboot of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Goldman’s stand-up is delightfully in-your-face, honest and aggressively funny and has been described as “unapologetically un-PC.”

“I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts and went to Emerson College,” said Goldman, during a phone interview Tuesday night from her home in Sherman Oaks, California.

“I started doing standup and then moved to New York. I was working on the “Big Gay Sketch Show” and then moved to L.A. in 2009. My first work there was on Bravo’s ‘The People’s Couch.’

“I co-hosted a show with Brandy Howard. She’s a working partner and a best friend. She collaborates with me on standup. We now have our own podcast ‘Dumb Gay Politics with Julie & Brandy.’ It’s an audio show you can download. We also do it on Patreon – an extra one you can subscribe to.”

Goldman has been involved in comedy since her teen years.

“I don’t know why I started doing comedy,” said Goldman. “When I was 15, I did standup at Comedy Connection in Boston.

“I was always an avid questioner when I was young – with my teachers at school, with my parents, in my mom’s station wagon. I’d ask questions about life. That stuff was important to me then.”

When Goldman came out, her comedy routines naturally shifted a bit.

“I came out and that was a big thing – being gay, looking gay,” said Goldman, whose filmography includes “The Sopranos,” “The Mindy Project,” “The New Normal,” “The D Word,” and “Butch in the City.”

“I had stories about my life, I came out when I was 19, The catalyst was an acting class.”

Being gay and being Jewish never really was a problem for Goldman.

“Our family was quite active in the Jewish community,” said Goldman. “When I came out, I don’t think they were surprised. They were O.K. with it. I didn’t have much trouble.

“It was hard at first doing gay comedy. But, I never felt threatened even though it was a very male fraternity-type business. People are pushing diversity now.

“My comedy is still based on how I react to things. Brandy helps me generate a lot. In our live podcasts, we like to talk about everything. It’s reality TV and we’re not experts – we’re people.”

Video link for Julie Goldman – https://youtu.be/q77IR1FKFYE.

The show at the Rrazz Room will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $24.

Kennett Flash (102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square, 484-732-8295, http://www.kennettflash.org) will present “Flash Funniest 2018 – A Summer Comedy Festival – Week #1” with Erin Dohoney, Jeff Rosser, Alan Massenburg, Andy Lane, Casey Kuftic, and Marc Staudenmaier on August 2, “The Rock Orchestra presents an Evening of Peter Gabriel” on August 3, “Vinyl Artifacts with special guests Blues Reincarnation Project” on August 4, and “Open Mic with guest host Adam Beck” on August 5.

The Kennett Flash & Anson B. Nixon Park will present Radio Free Honduras on August 8 at Anson B. Nixon Park. Showtime for the all-ages concert is 7 p.m. Admission is free.

Chaplin’s (66 North Main Street, Spring City, 610-792-4110, http://chaplinslive.com) will present the “First Annual Schuylkill Freedoms Festival” on August 4 from noon-8 p.m. at Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, which is located  at 1601 Valley Forge Road in Phoenixville.

The festival will feature Broken Arrow, the Cozy, Florida Wayne, Dirty Dozen Dance Band, DNR, Lauren Lindley, Alyssa Garcia, Ralph Pagano, and Zach Sagrantz & Jason Riggs.

The Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, 610-649-8389, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host God Street Wine on August 2, Splintered Sunlight on August 3, and Breakwater and The Urban Guerilla Orchestra on August 4.

The Sellersville Theater (24 West Temple Avenue, Sellersville, 215-257-5808, www.st94.com) will have Jamie McLean Band & Greg Sover Band on August 2, Melissa Manchester on August 3, “Tribute To Frank Sinatra Starring Tony Sands: It Was A Very Good Year” on August 4, Nellie McKay on August 4, Patrick Moraz on August 5, and Hayes Carll on August 6.

The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331, www.thequeenwilmington.com) will host the Gin Blossoms on August 3,

“Colors Presents: R&B ONLY with Dauchè, and Jabari” on August 4, and Squirrel Nut Zippers on August 5.

The Candlelight Theater (2208 Millers Road, Arden, Delaware, 302- 475-2313, www.candlelighttheatredelaware.org) is presenting “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?”

The theater’s current production is running now through August 26. Performances are Friday and Saturday evenings (doors 6 p.m./show, 8 p.m.) and Sunday afternoons (doors, 1 p.m./show, 3 p.m.). Tickets, which include dinner and show, are $63 for adults and $33 for children (ages 4-12).

Now through August 19, Cirque du Soleil is performing its new show “Volta” under the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) which has been erected on the grounds adjacent to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. “Volta,” the show in Oaks Center (100 Station Avenue, Oaks, www.cirquedusoleil.com) will be Cirque du Soleil’s first Big Top production in five years.

“Volta” is a captivating voyage of discovery about finding yourself, unveiling your personal powers and fulfilling your true potential. It’s about the ultimate freedom that comes with self-acceptance and the liberation from the judgement of others.

Performances of Cirque du Soleil’s “Volta” will be presented until August 19 under the Grand Chapiteau in Oaks. Ticket prices range from $49-$155.

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