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Marketa Irglova and friends perform a magical show at World Cafe Live

Marketa Irglova
Marketa Irglova | photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

This past Sunday World Café Live played host to an international call-to-the-soul in the form of Marketa Irglova and her music of the spirit, body and mind. With members ranging from the Czech Republic (Irglova herself), Iran, Israel and the U.S. and a sound driven by keyboard and harmonies, it was a calm, ruminative way to spend a fall night.

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The Bangles rocked the socks off a sold-out World Cafe Live

The Bangles | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
The Bangles | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

On Saturday, Oct. 4, a sold-out World Café Live audience was walking like Egyptians and basking in a hazy shade of winter with none other than the fab females of The Bangles. Rapturous joy was abound for a 23-song set that featured hit after hit.

Beginning with their glorious cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s “A Hazy Shade of Winter,” there were memory-stirring songs throughout the night. The dynamic trio of guitarist Susanna Hoffs, guitarist Vicki Peterson and drummer Debbi Peterson kept the 1980s alive and reminded the crowd that they can still craft great pop. Continue reading →

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Exhilarating as ever, Neil Young transforms the Academy of Music

Neil Young | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Neil Young | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Neil Young transformed the splendor of the Academy of Music into a lively space of reminiscing and activism for his first of two sold out solo nights on Wednesday. The passion, the voice and the sound of Young at 68 is an exhilarating spectacle for the ears and the mind. And for two and a half hours, the Philadelphia crowd was in musical ecstasy. Continue reading →

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Debonair and shrouded in shadows, The Afghan Whigs brought noir flavor to life at Union Transfer

The Afghan Whigs | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
The Afghan Whigs | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Philadelphia redeemed itself Friday night. The last time The Afghan Whigs played a full show in Philly, in September 2012 at the Electric Factory, the crowd was sparse and sad, especially compared to a raucous, solidly sold-out show at New York City’s Terminal 5. Greg Dulli and company played their shortest set on that tour date and no encore. The City of Brotherly Love did not disappoint on this go-round, as 1,000 or so music fans showed their appreciation for the debonair gentlemen during their 20-song rock show at Union Transfer. (Note: The crowd at that Factory gig was probably also 1,000, but spread thinly around the 3,500-cap venue. -ed.)  From the opening notes of “Parked Outside,” the lead track on 2014’s Do to the Beast, the sweaty love affair fans have with The Afghan Whigs was in full flower. Continue reading →

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Ohio songstress Lydia Loveless rocked MilkBoy with TJ Kong, Josh Olmstead

Lydia Loveless | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Lydia Loveless | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Equal parts rock and country, Lydia Loveless is a shot of rhythmic fire. And for 90-plus minutes last Thursday the Ohio-based songstress and her band held a crowded MilkBoy under her spell.

Only 24, Loveless spins tales of desire and soul with a knowhow of someone twice her age. Her voice curls with country swirl on songs like the utterly brilliant “To Love Somebody,” while her lyrics often instantly become memorable, like on “Verlaine Shot Rimbaud.” Both aforementioned songs are from her solid 2014 album Somewhere Else, which was heavily featured in the setlist. Continue reading →

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Going outdoors with Screaming Females, Shellshag at Don Giovanni Records showcase

Screaming Females | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Screaming Females | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

To spend the last Saturday of summer outside in beautiful weather is a must. But to get live music with the sun and warmth is even better. Throw in some punk and indie rock sensibilities and you get last weekend’s Don Giovanni Records showcase at Boyd Park in New Brunswick, New Jersey. With the Raritan River as a stunning backdrop, the awesome forces of Screaming Females, Shellshag and six other bands were quite a treat. Continue reading →

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Shovels and Rope had a rousing hootenanny at Union Transfer

Shovels and Rope | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Shovels and Rope | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

The ability of two people to rock a venue like Union Transfer from the stage all the way to the back of the balcony is certainly rare. On Wednesday night Shovels & Rope showed they can do this from their first notes to the last in a rousing hootenanny before a packed house.

Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst are husband and wife and the duo of Shovels & Rope. Switching from drums to guitar and back throughout the night, they show great versatility. Their love for music and each other shines through as well. Continue reading →

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Strand of Oaks makes an electrifying homecoming at Boot and Saddle

Strand of Oaks | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Strand of Oaks | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Before the first of two sold-out homecoming shows for Strand of Oaks on Friday at Boot & Saddle, I briefly told Oaks’ leader, Timothy Showalter, how much I loved the record and how excited I was for the show. Returning my handshake, Showalter reciprocated his excitement for what was to come with a beaming smile and utter giddiness. This genuine excitement for the performance was palpable throughout his band’s 75-minute set. It was a sea of joy and pathos, misery and head banging; it was rock of the highest order. Continue reading →

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It’s been so long since Jack White came to Philly, we went to Maryland to see Jack White. And it was outstanding.

Jack White | Photo by Chris SIkich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Jack White | Photo by Chris SIkich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Pardon me if I was not sweating by the end of Jack White’s rip-roaring 105-minute set on Sunday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland; it was a nippy 55 degrees by show’s end. The nearly sold-out crowd was certainly in a heated frenzy from start to finish as White orchestrated a set that spanned his two solo albums, The White Stripes, Dead Weather and The Raconteurs.

Notorious for moody and eccentric behavior, White seemed nothing but pleased to be playing on a Sunday night. From the first notes of the show-opening White Stripes’ song “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground” onward, the crowd was on its feet. Lit exclusively by blue lights, White, with a new hairdo that appeared inspired by Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, did what he does best: paint an aural landscape of sublime rock ’n’ roll with his guitar brilliance and bluesy vocals. Continue reading →

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Singular songwriter Chris Isaak takes to the Keswick stage

Chris Isaak | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Chris Isaak | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Whether you hear Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” for the first time or the 50th, it is still unlike any song from 1989 or 2014. And to see Isaak performing this and any of the dozens of songs he has created or covered is a must-see. I finally caught him on Friday at the Keswick and was as ecstatic with the show as the rest of the nearly sold-out crowd. Continue reading →