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Judah + The Lion bring the energy to World Cafe Live

Judah + the Lion | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com
Judah + the Lion | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

On Wednesday night, Judah + The Lion turned World Cafe Live into the Electric Factory.

Seriously.

World Café Live, while being the venue I most quickly call home, has become a slight infamous for me; for every high energy show that I’ve seen I’ve seen two with little to none. Prior to seeing Judah + The Lion rip it up at World Café, I hadn’t seen a show comparably high-fenergy since I saw Blackalicious light up that same stage almost three years prior (in one of the first concerts I ever photographed).

I knew I was in for some incredible antics going in; I had heard tell of Judah + The Lion’s stage presence before, but I was not prepared for what I was about to witness. Upon arriving at the lip of the stage, I saw that the roadies put out a setlist, that, at first glance, looked like total nonsense (attached below). I had thought that this was just going to be a normal indie-folk show, to the tune of a Head & The Heart show, but after seeing songs like “Banksy Luther King Jr”, “!!!!!!!!!!!”, and “He Peed Ants” on the setlist, I knew a few more absurdities would have to follow. Continue reading →

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Vance Joy warms hearts at a sold-out Electric Factory

Vance Joy | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | <a href=http://cameronpollackphotography.com target="_blank">cameronpollackphotography.com</a>
Vance Joy | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

This past summer, I had effectively written off Vance Joy as simply another singer songwriter with a famous falsetto and the propensity to write one, maybe two passable albums. In a world ever-increasingly populated with white, male, 20-something singer songwriters looking to distance themselves from the enormous one-hit-wonder pack and make a lasting impact, finding a permanent niche is rapidly becoming a taller task. However, nine months later, I’m confident that, while Vance is certainly still at the beginning of his career, he has found his niche. Throughout his set at the Electric Factory last weel, he proved to be genuine, unendingly humble, and the textbook definition of “adorkable.” Continue reading →

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Savages ravage Union Transfer

Savages | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com
Savages | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com

Coming hot off a World Café session taped that afternoon (be on the lookout!), London-based post-punk band Savages blew the roof off Union Transfer on Thursday night, in support of Adore Life, their sophomore LP. The album, like Savages’ previous longer-form releases, comes with an accompanying manifesto; “It’s about you and me and the others. It’s about the choices we make. It’s about finding the poetry and avoiding the cliché. It’s about being the solution, not the problem. It’s about showing weakness to be strong. It’s about digging through your dirt to look for diamonds.”  Continue reading →

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Prove It All Night: Bruce Springsteen takes The River to Philly and it’s as powerful as ever

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com

I’ve wanted a butterscotch blonde Telecaster since I was six years old.

The Boss has been spinning in the Pollack household for as long as I can remember; the harmonica intro to “Thunder Road,” the wailing of Clarence Clemons’ saxophone interlude in “Jungleland,” dancing around my room to “Glory Days,” all were irrefutable staples of my childhood.

My introduction to Bruce Springsteen came in 2002, in a post-9/11 era that saw the genesis of his greatest album of the 21st century (so far). I grew addicted to The Rising, and opted to look backward, finding gems like Nebraska, Born To Run, and The River waiting for me. When I discovered these records, I hadn’t exactly internalized their poetry; it’s hard for a boy of single digit age to internalize anything, let alone the harsh realities of a hum-drum working life, the limitedness of our existence and the stress that comes with wanting to leave the world a better place than we found it. I had the opportunity to see Bruce live once prior, in 2009 during his final four-show residency at the Spectrum. The opportunity sadly remained just that, as I was the first of my family to fall ill with Swine Flu that fall, and by the evening of the show I was completely incapacitated, leaving my mother to attend without me.

Thus, in a way, covering this show was several kinds of justice: I finally got to see one of my favorite artists in the world perform live, I proved (mostly to myself) that no disease would stop me from seeing one of my favorite artists in the world perform live, and I got good enough at photography that I was able to photograph one of my favorite artists in the world live.

I know there’s a rule about how you’re not supposed to meet your heroes, and I asked myself several times whether that rule would apply to photographing them as well. Either way, I didn’t particularly care; last night was a victory, and no taboo was going to take that from me. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Basia Bulat enchants a loving World Cafe Live crowd

Basia Bulat | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com
Basia Bulat | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

For XPN’s second Free at Noon of the year, esteemed Canadian songwriter Basia Bulat came to town, promoting her upcoming Jim James-produced album Good Advice, which comes out in just under a month on Secret City Records.

Preceding this, I had heard tell from several colleagues that Bulat was a force to be reckoned with, and as such I walked into the room at World Cafe with markedly high expectations. At the start of the set, she met them with ease, and by the end, she had well exceeded them. Her sound was beautifully simple; comprised of guitar, keys/synth, bass, and drums. However, with these tools she managed to contrast her sound magnificently. Continue reading →

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Foals engage in “not recommended behavior”, conquer Union Transfer

Foals | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com
Foals | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com

I’ve given the title “best show of 2015” in my head to four shows so far this year, each one being eclipsed by the subsequent. In what will hopefully be the last of such eclipsings this year, Foals played the best set of music I’ve seen this year, and definitely one of the best I’ve ever seen.

I walked into the room at Union Transfer a bit concerned; compared to what I had heard the crowd at Terminal 5 was like the night prior, the room seemed alarmingly empty, especially for a sold out show. I had heard tell of frontman Yannis Philippakis’ on-stage / off-balcony antics, and was a little concerned at the feasibility of some of his reported stunts. Those fears were quickly dispelled as the crowd filled between set changes. The show started with “Snake Oil”, a jam whose choruses and breakdowns harken back to their Krautrock influences, and immediately got the crowd banging heads. Already, Yannis was breaking a sweat, bouncing all over the stage, accenting his guitar playing complete with a dizzying amount of spinning. Continue reading →

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Welcome Home: The Wonder Years tear the roof off The Electric Factory

The Wonder Years | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com
The Wonder Years | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollackphotography.com

“Philadelphia, it’s so fucking good to be home.”

The feeling – expressed from the stage by The Wonder Years‘ frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell – came for me in waves, each more forceful than the last. I was returning to shoot at one of my favorite venues, wearied from a long semester, a considerable lack of sleep, and most recently the wonderful, unpredictable mess of Philadelphia pre-Thanksgiving traffic. Continue reading →

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The Suffers bring the house down at Union Transfer

The Suffers | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
The Suffers | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

People can have any number of reasons for listening to music; some bands you can only listen to when you’re sad, others when you’re happy or confident, some only in the morning when you’re just waking up, and others still when you’re out with friends. Above all of these categories and others, there exists a category of band that transcends time and place; a band that, when listened to, can’t help but force genuine smiles on their listeners. The Suffers are one such band.

The ten-piece Gulf Coast soul band dropped by Union Transfer on Sunday night, and effectively burned the house down. The set opened with their EP’s opening track “Make Some Room,” where lead vocalist Kam Franklin seized every opportunity to make the evening into a truly feel-good experience, telling the audience that the lyric “Do you want a sandwich? I’ll make one for you,” is not simply a lyric; in Houston, where Franklin is from, it’s a showing of love, and definitely something worth cheering for. Continue reading →

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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 →