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The Deli’s Featured Artist(s) of the Month: Nicos Gun

Recent poll winners Nicos Gun (yes, no apostrophe please) have only been together for a little over a year, but the four-piece’s silky, smooth dance tracks sound surprisingly polished. We had a chance to catch up with co-founder of the band, Barney McKenna, to get the scoop on his beef with Geno’s and Jim’s, playing with guns, plans for a Nicos Gun documentary and more.
 
The Deli: How did Nicos Gun start?
 
Barney McKenna: We started when I stopped playing with my band Cortez Cortez (whose album was reviewed on your site). Me and Nick Bockrath (Cortez Cortez bass player) started recording with Harry Zelnick who I've known since I was a teenager (we both grew up in Philly). Harry was a hip hop producer and a friend of mine. Harry has produced for Ludacris, Freeway, and Beanie Sigel. He's the drummer/collaborator now of Nicos Gun. I wrote some songs that Harry helped me produce. Then we began writing stuff together and producing it at a studio on 4th and Callowhill. We’re all into the same type of bands like Prince, LCD Soundsystem, Gang of Four, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Talking Heads, Justice. Andy Black is a great bassist in the area and he joined us for our first show and we’ve been together since then (around September 2009).
 
TD: Where did the band name come from?
 
BM: Me and Harry worked at a shoe repair store downtown owned by an old greek guy named Nico. He kept a luger behind the cash register, and we used to pull it out when we closed the store. One time Harry dropped the gun and it went off in the store. There was a hole in the wall that Nico saw, and he fired us after that.
 
TD: What are your biggest musical influences?
 
BM: Talking Heads, Prince, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Grandmaster Flash, Beck, David Bowie.
 
TD: What artists are you currently listening to?
 
BM: Carsick Cars, Nirvana, MSTRKRFT, Liquid Liquid.
 
TD: What's the first concert you ever attended and the first album you ever bought?
 
BM: The first big concert I ever attended was Lyle Lovett. My aunt took me to see him. He had cool hair, and I liked his guitar. I was 8. The first album I ever bought was Nevermind by Nirvana when I was 9.
 
TD: What do you love about Philly?
 
BM: I love how many talented people are in this city and how cheap it is to live. Growing up here your friends with every type of race and class. It is a good melting pot of a town where I’ve witnessed very different people hanging out. 
 
TD: What do you hate about Philly? 
 
BM: I hate Geno's cheesesteaks and the ignorant people who work there and own that store. I hate Jim's cheesteaks and the idiots who wait in a line around the corner for a shitty fattening sandwich. I hate that there’s becoming fewer and fewer nice venues to play and the urgency for bands to leave the city to gain any type of success. 
 
TD: What are your plans for 2010? 
 
BM: Mix our album, release our EP. Continue booking shows in other cities. Making music videos, and finishing a documentary on the band and our life.
 
TD: What was your most memorable live show?
 
BM: Jay Reatard at Johnny Brenda’s. 
 
TD: What's your favorite thing to get at the deli?
 
BM: Chicken soup 
 
(Photo by Matthew Dodd)
 
- The Deli Staff
 
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Free Live Recording w/Cowmuddy at The Fire Oct. 17

You may or may not know it, but Cowmuddy (a.k.a. Michael McShane) is a bit of a local legend on the singer-songwriter scene. The eccentric, environmentally conscious McShane probably would be an interesting subject for a documentary. I imagine him becoming one of those artists who’d gain more popularity and resurgence after its release and he had fallen off the radar like an Anton Newcombe or Daniel Johnston. You know that there must be something special there for him to attract help from a rotating cast of talented hometown musicians that have included Jonas Osterle (formerly of The Teeth, Flashy Python, Purples, Paper Masques) Amos Lee, “Steady” Freddie Berman (Amos Lee), Jaron Olevsky (Amos Lee), Todd Erk (Birdie Busch, Hoots & Hellmouth) and many, many more. He’ll be recording a live performance tonight at his second home, The Fire, for a new CD, and it’s FREE. Also on the bill are The Deli favorites, Levee Drivers, with their slow-burning, bluesy country rock. I know. But the Phillies game! Hopefully they’ll have it on like every music venue with a TV should these days. (Come on KFN - breakdown and play the games. It’d just make everyone happier. Hehe…is it really necessary to run that Bad Brains video again? :o) The Fire, 412 W. Girard Ave., 9pm, FREE, 21+ - H.M. Kauffman
 
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Big Art Show Halloween Spooktacular at Pterodactyl Oct. 16

There's nothing I love more than All Hallows’ Eve, rad music and even radder art (also on that list: instituting a false lexis). And the Big Art Show Halloween Spooktacular exhibit at Pterodactyl tonight is like an idiosyncratic flare-up of all three. Well, OK, it’s not on Halloween, but the minds behind the Kensington space did so cleverly allude to the sacred day in the show’s title, and that’s good enough for me. Still, designations are trivial when compared to the local rhythms that’ll vibrate threw your body while trolling the loft gallery - the blithesome folk of The Great Unknown’s alt-Americana missives, the incisive disquiet of Lion Versus’ alt-folk allegories, and the spectral jowls of A Stick and A Stone’s esoteric chronicles, plus the bemoaned strings and pining plucks of Baltimore’s indie-folk squad, A Cat Called Cricket. Pterodactyl, 3237 Amber St., Floor 5, 8pm, $5 suggested donation, All Ages - Annamarya Scaccia
 
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(The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope at KFN Oct. 16

(The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope plays exactly what their name suggests: a mottled cul-de-sac of cinereal garage rock, angsty power pop and dawdling psychedelic rock. And it’s not a metaphor pulled out of vivid thin air - the hometown quartet’s 2009 album¸ All This Heaven, plays out like a mollified light display reflecting the sonic reverberations of a thousand tiny mirror shards. Couple this with the auricular time-traveling of local garage-psych lo-fiers Far-Out Fangtooth, who released their self-titled 7-inch last month on Ian Records, and Australia’s psych-rock pushers The Lovetones, and you’ll find yourself sipping one hell of a cocktail, which, by the way, is served best with a side of Mary and an entrée of Jane. Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St, 7:30pm, $8, 21+ - Annamarya Scaccia
 
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The 2nd Annual Bloktoberfest Oct. 16

Even though it happened on a rain-soaked day, last year’s inaugural Bloktoberfest managed to be the perfect marriage of community spirit, delicious food from Philly’s best food trucks, all kinds of epic beer varieties, and a nice lineup of music that included Adam Arcuragi and The Love Language. But in honor of its second coming, one of the city’s larger block parties has outdone themselves. The beer lineup will feature favorites from Dock Street, Weyerbacher, and Ommegang, and the food truck lineup has become twice as large to feature the likes of Honest Tom’s Taco Truck, The Dapper Dog, and Koja. But this also marks the first time that the festival will be bringing in 2 stages of music, and it will features bands like London’s Allo Darlin’, the horn-tastic Budos Band, and a bunch of up-and-coming locals. Since a busy schedule that involved signing to Merge Records, releasing an ambitious sophomore LP titled Libraries, and embarking on national tours with Camera Obscura and Local Natives prevented The Love Language from playing another local show last year, the fest decided to take matters into their own hands and invite them back as a headliner. Joining them will be Cozy Galaxies (formerly The Major Leagues) whose Americana rock echoes the likes of Wilco and Pavement as well as Strange Engineers, Giant Mind, Fishtown Jazz Odyssey and New Pony. Blocktoberfest, 20th and Christian St., 12 - 8pm, Free, All Ages - Bill McThrill
 
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