[Dir. by SCOTT COLAN]
The Fleet Foxes play the Electric Factory tonight with the mighty Espers.
PREVIOUSLY: QUEER AS FOLK or How Philadelphia Got Its Freak On
[Illustration by ALEX FINE]
BY JONATHAN VALANIA It all started, for me anyway, at Brooke Sietinsons‘ walk-up loft/hobbit hole on Second Street, somewhere in that OK Corral-esque strip between the Standard Tap and the 700 Club. Even though she no longer lives there, the exact location will have to remain a secret because, technically speaking, L&I could still fine her for dispensing the Morning Glory seeds of Philly freak-folkdom without a permit. But the select initiates invited to these hash-pipe hootenannies — culled from some of the most remote and impenetrable redoubts of local bohemia — know where I’m talking about. A Jesus-haired figure sits crosslegged on the floor, illuminated by flickering sepia-toned film footage, strumming an acoustic guitar and ululating like Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin locked in dual cunnilingus in a crater on the dark side of the moon. His name, I later learn, is Devendra Banhart. Soon enough, many will know his name.
Also on hand is one Greg Weeks, a recent transplant folker from New York and a dead ringer for Woody Allen in Sleeper. Together with Sietinsons, Ophelia-voiced Meg Baird and a revolving cast of red-eyed weird beards, Weeks would form the Espers, a strummy collective of whispery acid-folk that evokes sugar-plum visions of woodland fairies doing the maypole dance around Stonehenge. Soon enough, many will know the Espers too.
Then there’s Tara Burke, aka Fursaxa, a diminutive dark-haired pixie who builds magnificent wheezing chimeras of sound out of droning single-chord Farfisa, submarine bells and whistles, and narcotic Nico-esque vocal swoon. Sonic Youth and the Japanese psych cognoscenti already know who she is. The rest is freak-folk history, exhaustively documented in Pitchfork’s archives. Fast forward to now. MORE