“Everybody at the station is jumping up and down for this week’s guest,” said XPN’s Helen Leicht at the top of this week’s Free at Noon concert, and she’s not kidding. Ali Awan is the rare artist that practically the entire staff is rallying around, from Mike Vasilikos giving him his radio debut last March, to Kristen Kurtis naming his album one of her most anticipated of 2019, to his recent ripper of a Key Studio Session.
Awan started the show the same way he started that session: with “Magic Wheel,” a dreamy midtempo tune built around lead guitar harmonies between Awan and guitarist Kirby Sybert. From here, the set launched immediately into the roof-raising “Poison and Potion,” followed by the vibey “Citadel Blues,” Awan’s debut single that came out just over a year ago.
Awan and his six bandmates — Sybert, guitarist Daniel Rice, keys player Sean Hur, bassist John Coyle, drummer Keaton Thandi, and tambourine man Marc Pikulski — have a seriously 60s psych vibe, the stuff of Nuggets comps and retro videos, except massively amplified to thunderous proportions. We heard this in “Be A Light” as much as “Beyond the Valley” and the off-air encore “Last Resort,” which acted as a downbeat denouement to the set.
Listen to the performance below, and see Ali Awan open for Son Little at Ardmore Music Hall on February 27th, followed by a gig at Underground Arts with RFA and Secret American on March 29th. Tickets and more information on both shows can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Poison and Potion
Don’t Wanna Hear It All
Be A Light
Rubble and the Memories
Beyond the Valley