Music festival opens doors for listeners

The Key’s three-day festival showcases Philly’s diverse music scene, highlighting artists from all genres.

The moment local R&B/electro-pop singer Kate Faust rediscovered her second grade journal with song lyrics scribbled in it, she knew what she wanted to do in life.

“I still remember some of the melodies actually,” she said. “And it’s still similar to the way I write out songs now. It finally occurred to me that this was something I had to do.”

Today, Faust is ready to release her third studio album, “Capsizing,” but not before performing it live at the second annual Key Fest, a three day Philly-based music festival curated by The Key of WXPN. Key Fest began last year, and due to its success, The Key and music venue MilkBoy are sponsoring it again from April 22-24.

Faust, along with 11 other artists from varying genres will perform together at MilkBoy in Center City to showcase the city’s music scene. John Vettese, editor of The Key, put together the lineup, which reflects Philly’s ever-changing music community.

“One of the things I like about being editor here is that we cast a bit of a wider net than we sometimes do on air,” he said. “On air, XPN is largely singer-songwriters, emerging indie rock and lot of heritage artists.”

“The Key for me is an opportunity to expand beyond that and highlight artists not necessarily constrained by those boundaries,” he added. “With Key Fest, we kind of did the same thing … we want to give a look into the entirety of the Philadelphia music scene and not just one or two segments.”

Faust said a lot of music outlets only cover certain genres of music, “but The Key does a pretty good job of trying to be open-handed and expose all different kinds of music.”

The festival kicks off with a show featuring some of the city’s hip-hop and electronic pop artists, including Faust, as well as the band ILL DOOTS, Joie Kathos and rap collective Hardwork Movement.

The second night explores the growing punk and indie-rock scenes in Philly with indie-pop group Kississippi leading off the night alongside Shelf Life, Madalean Gauze and Cherry. The festival will end with a night of Americana rock and singer-songwriters, featuring Hezekiah Jones, Howlish, Lou and Friendship.

Vettese purposefully put together a lineup which places artists from different genres onto one stage. He hopes to blend different music scenes from across the city while still maintaining cohesion.

“I tried to theme it by genre, but also just what bands I thought would play really well together,” he said. “I feel like a lot of musicians in Philly play within a certain community of artists. … My idea was that there’s all these bands that would play very well alongside each other but they’ve never shared a stage before.”

“I try to curate with that in mind,” Vettese added, “introducing the audiences to other people who are doing awesome things in Philadelphia.”

Faust said generally, artists of one genre usually work within that genre, rarely playing alongside bands with different sounds. She believes Key Fest gives both musicians and audiences the opportunity to experience new sounds and find bands they may have never heard of otherwise.

“I enjoy being on a bill with a bunch of bands that aren’t like me,” she said. “Then getting to hang out with them backstage, talk to them and meet their fans and know that there are people in the audience that don’t necessarily jive with what I’m doing but I’d want to win them over.”

“Also just networking and meeting so many different people from different scenes, scenes that you didn’t realize existed,” Faust added. “You get to meet bands that you might not have sought out but that you really dig now.”

Vettese sees Key Fest as a way of allowing bands and musicians to “find each other.”

“Part of our mission is to spotlight bands that people don’t know about and expose these new bands,” he said. “Part of that is mixing it up a little bit and finding bands within a scene.”

“I really want this to be a platform for the audience,” he added. “So they can find new bands and tap into the local music community that we have.”

Emily Thomas can be reached at

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