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Imagine Dragons make an explosive return to Wells Fargo Center

Imagine Dragons | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Imagine Dragons | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

What an experience this night was. Pouring rain, deafening music, tons of fog, and even more lasers.

Imagine Dragons is a rock band, pure and simple, and their songwriting and anthemic choruses have shot them to the kingdom of Top 40 and the tip top of the Billboard 200 with seemingly immense ease. Rock they do; lead vocalist Dan Reynold’s energy was constant and extremely high throughout his entire set, through the most elated and moody of songs. However, at times the band did seem like it would more be aptly named “Dan Reynolds” and friends; there were several points where Dan was the only one lit on stage, even though Wayne Sermon, Daniel Platzman, and Ben McKee were carrying considerable amounts of weight also, providing vocal harmonies too high for most men their age to reach and guitar/bass battles aplenty.

The night was chock full of highlights, as you’d expect at a concert of this enormity. Continue reading →

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Confidence and Soul: Ibeyi brings their commanding show to World Cafe Live

Ibeyi | Photo by Cameron Pollack | http://cameronpollack.500px.com/
Ibeyi | Photo by Cameron Pollack | http://cameronpollack.500px.com/

I have seen no duo in my admittedly brief history of concert going more commanding of a crowd, more loving of groove, and with more infectious, intricate songwriting than Ibeyi. Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi ooze confidence and soul, constantly singing and smiling through the set, at each other and at the audience. Continue reading →

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Alvvays entrances the crowd and spurs a moshpit at Union Transfer

Alvvays @ Union Transfer, Philadelphia. Photo by Cameron Pollack
Alvvays @ Union Transfer, Philadelphia. Photo by Cameron Pollack

Whenever I walk into a venue, I look around and try to guess the median age of the crowd. Sometimes it’s for kicks, but sometimes it’s very telling about what the nature of the concert will be. I’ve walked into enough shows with the crowd brimming with high-school age teenagers to know that, should the crowd be of this age, the show will involve the bulk of the audience bobbing their heads and pretending to know the words. Alvvays at Union Transfer was very much an exception. Continue reading →

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Recap: The Tallest Man on Earth brings his full band to Philly at NonCOMM

The Tallest Man on Earth | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
The Tallest Man on Earth | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

I could go on for hours about everything The Tallest Man On Earth has done for me individually. Almost every long road trip I’ve been on since 2010 has featured at least one of his albums; The Wild Hunt I can say for certain has been spun at least 75 times by myself alone, and Shallow Grave is certainly up there in my personal rotation as well. When I realized I was going to get to hear a new album and one of the first live performances with a full band all in one week, I (admittedly) temporarily lost the ability to function.

The album itself stays true to where The Tallest Man came from; the album has no shortage of stretches with only him and his guitar, letting his lyrics and his capo-ed, unorthodoxly-tuned guitar do the talking. Continue reading →

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Recap: Heartless Bastards previews Restless Ones at NonCOMM

Heartless Bastards | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Heartless Bastards | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Cincinnati garage rock quintet Heartless Bastards closed out the festivities at the NPR Music Stage at NonCOMM. The group came on with a rocking set in support of their upcoming release Restless Ones, out this coming June on Partisan Records. Lead vocalist Erika Wennerstrom’s pipes were in top form throughout the set, and Jesse Ebaugh’s stage presence and Mark Nathan’s memorable guitar solos across various tracks made the set memorable for everyone downstairs at World Cafe Live. Gates of Dawn was a crowd favorite, and the fans and NonCOMM attendees left downstairs for the night feeling satisfied with one of XPN’s longtime favorites. Check out a gallery below and listen back to the concert archive!  Continue reading →

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Recap: Borns brings vibrant pop to NonCOMM

Borns | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Borns | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Michigan-LA transplant Garrett Borns (stylized BØRNS) took to NonCOMM’s PRX stage early Thursday night, and immediately blew the minds of everyone standing in WCL upstairs. His falsetto is unparalleled, even androgynous, and his grooves stood somewhere between the dance beats of MGMT and the dreaminess of Beach House. Continue reading →

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Recap: Zella Day wakes up NonCOMM with a powerful Free at Noon performance

Zella Day | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Zella Day | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Around nine months ago, I was standing in Bruce Warren’s office, having just shot my last Free at Noon for The Key before embarking on my first year of college up north. We were sitting and discussing my plans for my freshman year when Bruce got notified that a friend had just signed an up- and-coming songwriter named Zella Day. Intrigued, I opened up her page on Spotify and checked out “East of Eden,” her most recently released track. Flash forward to NonCOMM 2015, and I’m still an avid listener.

Ahead of her debut record Kicker’s release, Zella Day brought immense amounts of energy to an (at first) sleepy Free at Noon Crowd. Opening up with her popular song “Sweet Ophelia,” she instantly proved through her belting and stage presence that she’s equally as powerful a force onstage as she is in the studio. Continue reading →

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Yelle inspires a devoted Union Transfer crowd

Yelle
Yelle | photo by Cameron Pollack |

“Philly! I want to see your hands, and I want to see your hearts!” Yelle’s voice echoed throughout Union Transfer on Sunday night as a packed crowd danced without end. Their hearts were certainly all out on the table, as the screams of the crowd grew with volume after every song. Yelle, in support of her latest album Complètement Fou, promised Philadelphia a night of infectious dance music with lyrics to which Google Translate often does not give justice.

Continue reading →

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Keeping rock n’ roll alive with The Strypes at Union Transfer

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The Strypes | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Since their inception, people have told me time and time again that rock ’n roll is in no way dead, and The Strypes were the principal thing keeping it alive.

Saying I was skeptical doesn’t cut it; I was in no way convinced that an Irish four piece consisting of guys the exact same age as me could save rock n’ roll in the way people told me they were. This past Wednesday, I got to see for myself, and I can safely report that rock is in no way dead, and The Strypes are why. Continue reading →

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SOJA takes over World Cafe Live for Free at Noon

SOJA | Photo by Cameron Pollack
SOJA | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Reggae/Dub kings SOJA took over World Cafe for an incredible display of lyricism and musicianship. SOJA’s music stays true to their traditional form on their latest LP, Amid The Noise And Haste, an album chock full of social commentary, reggae melodies, and incredible guest artists, including Collie Buddz and Damian Marley among others. Continue reading →