Photography by Amanda Silberling

On Friday night, R5 Productions‘s second annual OK Fest kicked off with a stunning show at PhilaMOCA. A weekend-long event that benefits The Attic Youth Center, OK Fest features three days of music from a wide variety of D.I.Y. bands, including Philadelphia-based favorites like Girlpool, Alex G, and Sheer Mag. By now, there shouldn’t be any doubt about the talent of artists in the D.I.Y. scenes of northeast American cities like Philadelphia and Brooklyn, but Eskimeaux, Told Slant, and Frances Quinlan of Hop Along delivered yet another reminder that the underground is booming with life.


A project fronted by Brooklyn’s Gabrielle Smith, Eskimeaux delivers vivid bedroom pop, sounding like a discordant, yet compelling fairy tale. Last Wednesday night, Eskimeaux played on the same PhilaMOCA stage with Elvis Depressedly and Mitski, a show that drew a similar crowd to OK Fest. Despite their very recent performance, Eskimeaux still captivated the audience with a set that stemmed predominately from O.K., their most recent album.

Told Slant

After Eskimeaux’s set, Gabrielle Smith and Eskimeaux’s drummer Felix Walworth remained on stage. “We look a lot like Eskimeaux, but we aren’t,” Walworth says – though Walworth tours and drums with Eskimeaux, their main artistic endeavor is Told Slant, where they are the lead singer, drummer, and writer. Similarly, Smith plays bass in Told Slant. Both Walworth and Smith are founding members of The Epoch, a Brooklyn-based collective of artists. At OK Fest, Told Slant offers a set of passionate lo-fi punk – in their final song, “Algae Bloom,” Walworth got so into the performance that one drumstick flung out into the crowd. Luckily, a fan handed the drumstick back to Walworth, who finished out the set on an overwhelmingly strong note.

Frances Quinlan

Though Frances Quinlan is best known as the lead of Hop Along, a four-piece band from Philadelphia whose May release Painted Shut received wide acclaim from outlets like NPR and Rolling Stone, she is versatile enough that she can headline the first night of OK Fest with just a microphone and a guitar and blow the crowd away. It’s a rarity and a treat to watch Frances Quinlan perform a solo show – she played two never-before-heard songs, along with songs like “Bride and Groom Hot Air Balloon” from Freshman Yearan album that Quinlan released in 2005 under the name “Hop Along, Queen Ansleis.” Despite performing in a less-familiar setting without the rest of Hop Along, Quinlan seemed comfortable on stage. Between songs, she reminisced about a strange dream in which she drank beer with Neil Young, only to realize that the beer was actually soy sauce. The only song Quinlan played from Painted Shut was “Happy To See Me,” presenting newer Hop Along fans with a vastly unfamiliar set, but even for OK Fest attendees who weren’t familiar with any of Quinlan’s earlier work, the vocally-stunning storyteller managed to end the first night of OK Fest on a high note. Impressively, Quinlan performed at XPoNential Music Festival just twelve hours after her solo set came to a close – of course, she rocked that performance as well.

See more photos from OK Fest below!

OK Fest: Eskimeaux, Told Slant, and Frances Quinlan Slay the Stage on Day One Photography by Amanda Silberling On Friday night, R5 Productions’s second annual OK Fest kicked off with a stunning show at 


Dir: Brad Silberling

US, 108m



One way to watch this is as a Tim Burtonesque fantasy about three orphans who have to handle some whimsical darkness from the adult world. You rest with on-screen magic, Jim Carrey’s antics, the Gothic sets, the fairy-tale world.

But the idea here is that the children can see truthfully because they are not deceived by the magic of smoke and mirrors. So a little more rewarding way is to watch out for all the self-referential tics that point to the nature and role of storytelling as preserving in the heart of fiction a kind of truth from life, but which we can only recognize by not being deceived by appearances.

It is a call to analyze, dismantle narrative for insight. There is plenty to spot if we unravel the film in this way.

So Count Olaf is, aptly enough, a thespian who masquerades many times over the course of the film, each masquerade supported by a different story that fits in with other people’s stories. At one point he’s seen reading a pamphlet with Lon Chaney’s face on the cover, the Man of a Thousand Faces. But he’s a talentless actor so it hinges on us recognizing him ahead with the children, practical minds, inventors used to tinkering and devising mechanisms, while the adults lacking imagination remain clueless.

Billy Connolly looking uncannily like John Cleese - and no doubt selected for that reason - is Uncle Monty researching pythons. He keeps a rare snake in a cage, the Incredibly Deadly Viper, another masquerade swallowed by authorities but exposed by the kids.

Aunt Josephine, in her derelict house with a window shaped like a spyglass, lives in constant irrational fear of accidents but which we come to understand are bits and pieces of actual events, soon to be replicated as the whole thing collapses under our feet.

Olaf’s evil masterplan to marry the girl is performed on stage as a play before an unwitting adult audience captivated by deceptive appearances, but which of course is masking the more sinister real event. They happen simultaneously, charade and reality, pointing once more to the idea of truth nested in fiction.

Finally, the entire thing is narrated to us by a writer working inside a clock and surrounded by wheels and chains, mirroring the machinations of the mind cranking out a narrative. He is styled as a reporter from the 40’s, and presumably assembles the story we are watching from photos of actual events.

So for all intents and purposes, the alchemic concoction is pretty well layered, not profound necessarily but better thought-out than you’d expect, but it is grafted on a film that is lazily scripted in the parts, obviously rushed into production to capitalize on Potter as others have noted, rather poorly advanced by story, and sealed with a dubious conclusion; for all the hardship and determination on the part of the kids, the plot is only resolved when a providential sunray makes a miraculous appearance.

The notion is that what appeared as merely a series of unfortunate events, governed by chance and accident, was masking all this time a rite of passage only possible once the fiction was unlocked. It advocates a true perception into the nature of things, always a noble thing to my mind.

This is more digestible but since it is already a kind of Tim Burtonesque venture, you will find a better film about the same material in Big Fish.



Behind the Scenes with Elvis Depressedly 
PhilaMOCA (7/15/15)
By Amanda Silberling (x)

“Elvis Depressedly’s Mat Cothran sits on his knees in the center of the stage. His head, dripping with sweat, rests in the palms of his hands, which slide over his closed eyes and grip his hair. An orange microphone cord wraps in circles around Cothran’s neck, as though it could almost strangle him. Looking uncomfortably like he’s wearing a noose, Cothran stands up and sings, his voice traveling into the microphone and through the cord wrapped tight around his throat: ‘No more sad songs/No pain, no separation.’”