With summer in the air, Of Monsters and Men serenaded a sold-out crowd at Festival Pier on Saturday night. Opening the show playing behind a curtain, this Icelandic group showed how well it rocks theatricality. The Monsters turned the drab parking lot of a venue into a sea of men and women swaying, clapping, and singing along to their well crafted pop throughout the evening. And rather than making the set about their smash masterwork “Little Talks,” which the crowd ate up with every sing-along line, Of Monsters and Men followed it with “Lake House” and the spectacle of a colorful confetti explosion. Ending the encore with the ballad “Yellow Light” at first seemed an odd choice, but it sucked the crowd more and more with its mini-epic nature, climaxing with another rain of confetti, sending the seven-piece and a sated crowd off in a haze of dreamlike wonderment.
Xenia | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
If there is an entry point into the multitudes of lovelorn folk poetry that is Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, “Bird Balloons” – the most rocking track off of its debut album Ripely Pine - might not seem to be it at first. But lead singer Aly Spaltro strummed forth this Afghan Whigs-esque tale to open Lady Lamb’s tight, intimate 10-song set on Sunday night at World Café Live Upstairs to a crowd of 50 reverential listeners. They hung on her every syllable about lions, vultures and Eros. High points abounded, including her solo banjo-plucked “Regarding Ascending the Stairs” and the finale, “Crane Your Neck,” with the refrain of “You’ve gotta be starving; you’ve gotta be starving for it.” Starving at first, perhaps, but by the end of the show, the crowd was thoroughly sated.
Shredding the night away, Marnie Stern and her crackling band headlined a night of indie rock awesomeness at Johnny Brenda’s on Friday. The tightness of the openers — phenomenal Philly locals Little Big League and the hard-rock stylings Barren Girls — readied the crowd for the entrancing guitar riffs and sweet yet edgy vocals of Stern, who was joined by bassist Nithin Kalvakota and drummer Joe Wong. By the second song, Wong’s shirt was off and the crowd was thrashing about, tossing their shirts onto the stage and hanging onto Stern’s every shred and her frequent references to her vagina. Though brief, her set, clocking in at under an hour, blasted through exuberant numbers from The Chronicles of Marnia, including the title track and a spirited “Year of the Glad.” And with a flourish of rock mania, the show — her last of the tour — came to a close with guitar theatrics and a drumstick flying at this reviewer’s mouth. After a brief taste of blood, all teeth remain — as well as memories of rock heaven, Marnie Stern-style.
For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, contributing photographer Chris Sikich recounts his five favorite concert images from the year.
The following represent my five favorite concert photos I took this year.
1.Wild Flag, Tuesday, April 3, 2012, Trocadero Theatre, Philadelphia, PA
Very little in contemporary rock is closer to perfection than bringing together Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, Janet Weiss, and Rebecca Cole in one space. The aural ecstasy that is a Wild Flag concert oozes forth from this shot: Brownstein’s leg-kick, Timony’s guitar crouch, Cole as keyboard-extraordinaire, and Weiss at one with drumming.
Bruce Springsteen began the first of two stops on his “Labor Day labor of love,” as he called it, with a classic cover, Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.” This performance at Citizens Bank Park was just the cure the enthusiastic crowd was looking for at the brink of summer’s end.
There are many ways to express the pure rock ’n’ roll joy that poured forth from the New Jersey native and his E Street Band. Let’s begin with a quantification. The show featured 33 songs, 19 of which hadn’t been performed at the two shows he played at the Wells Fargo Center in March. Sunday’s show clocked in at 3 hours and 43 minutes. Before this summer, he had never played a show this long and hadn’t even come close since 1980. This ties with a Madrid outing as his second-longest show and ranks behind only a four-hour-plus affair in Helsinki.
If one can attest to quality based on these statistics alone, this show proved to be a rousing success. Of course this is only part of the Bruce Springsteen experience. Qualitatively, Sunday’s show was a smash as well.
Photo by Eric Ashleigh | showtographe.com
Bruce interacted with the crowd with his usual mastery, collecting numerous sign requests, crowd-surfing twice during “Rosalita” and bringing up more fans than normal (three rather than one) for “Dancing in the Dark,” with two even dancing with saxophonist Jake Clemons, nephew of the late, great Clarence Clemons. Stage chatter between The Boss and the rest of his musical family and the crowd struck many varying chords of entertainment. There was the humor shared between Bruce and Jake regarding the fact that Jake was not born when “Spirit in the Night” — in wildly rollicking form — had been conceived. The energy and ingenuity brought to rarely played covers of early rockers like “Good Rocking Tonight” and “You Can’t Sit Down” injected life into a crowd that may have otherwise been disinterested in what they do not know. And then there was the white-hot fire breathed into a rarely performed but oft-requested cover of Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl” that knocked the socks off of Citizens Bank Park. Continue reading →