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All The Jangley Energy You Want: The Feelies return to World Cafe Live

The Feelies | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
The Feelies | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

Two sets. Three encores. 35 songs. Three-plus hours. By the numbers alone, The Feelies put on a triumphant show this past Saturday at World Café. To watch the band seamlessly transition between songs new and old as well as covers was indeed breathtaking rock and roll.

The Feelies of 2015 were pulsating with all the jangly energy you could have wanted in the mid 1980s, let alone now. Opening with “It’s Only Life,” the title track to their 1988 album Only Life, the Lou Reed-esque vocals of Glenn Mercer set the tone for the night. All of their albums and works were explored, from their 1979 single “Fa Ce-La” to the 1980 breakthrough Crazy Rhythms to 2011’s reunion record Here Before. Continue reading →

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From ballads to rock, Paula Cole showcases variety at World Cafe Live

Paula Cole | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Paula Cole | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

About half way through Paula Cole’s set at World Café Live on Friday, she arose from her piano to move to the middle of the stage. An audience member loudly exclaimed, “oh there your are,” since she had been hidden behind her piano up until that point. Cole unapologetically retorted that she needed to play a real piano and not a keyboard because of its sound quality and that she is just a frustrated drummer at heart. This directness mirrors her music, which gloriously varied between ballads and rock for the 15-song set. Continue reading →

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The Decemberists bring pageantry and passion to the Academy of Music

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

A gust of drums and a deluge of syllables packaged in an ever-expanding novella of a song. These were my feelings when I first heard The Decemberists’ “The Infanta” back in 2005. The opening track to Picaresque, the song, the album and the band all resurrected my love for music. And to hear this song performed by the 2015 incarnation of the Portland, Oregon-based indie eccentrics this past Tuesday at the Academy of Music was as exhilarating as it was the first time on CD. Before a sell-out crowd the Colin Meloy-led quintet were as captivating as ever. Continue reading →

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Swans played to a reverent crowd at Union Transfer

Swans
Swans | photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com/

It began with the slight yet forceful reverberations of a gong. For five minutes, percussionist extraordinaire Thor Harris elicited the low hum of his instrument while no one else occupied the stage. Then drummer Phil Puelo came out to add another percussive layer. The lights dimmed and brightened to match the rhythm, almost like a pulsing heart. One by one more band members of Swans entered the fray. The song, “Frankie M,” like all of their work on performed Monday night at Union Transfer, lasted in excess of 20 minutes. To call it or any of the other pieces simply a song would be to dismiss their nature; they were mini-rock orchestrations, hinting at the essence of the music itself and the boundaries of the human ear’s comfort level with their powerful sonics.

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Singer-Songwriter Bliss: Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer played World Cafe Live at the Queen

Allison Moorer and Mary Gauthier | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Allison Moorer and Mary Gauthier | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

The live pairing of the singular talents of Mary Gauthier and Allison Moorer this past Saturday at World Café Live at The Queen was nothing short of sublime. Part of a small tour of the East Coast, Gauthier and Moorer traded songs and anecdotes. Only their voices and guitars separated them from the respectable upstairs audience. But their sense of lyric and melody removed this barrier, making it a most intimate and rewarding artistic affair. Continue reading →

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Gang of Four shows the TLA What Happens Next

Gang of Four | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Gang of Four | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Wednesday night at TLA, the singular punk oddities Gang of Four played the second night of their US tour in support of their eighth LP, What Happens Next. It is an aptly titled record as there is only one original member in the band, Andy Gill, after lead vocalist Jon King left the band in 2013. When mixed with songs from throughout their career that began in 1977, the new album’s material fit in place quite well. And the crowd that filled in nicely after a sparse beginning was quite rapturous in their applause for Gang of Four. Continue reading →
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Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker packed the house at World Cafe Live

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

The middle of January in Philadelphia means its time for one of the best live one-two rock ’n’ roll punches around — Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker. World Café played host to their sold-out performances Saturday and both bands were at the top of their game. Led by David Lowery, one of the foremost crusaders for fair compensation for musicians, they cruised mainly through California settings, transporting their frigid fans to sunny musical highs. Continue reading →

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A scorching double-bill from The Vaselines and Amanda X at Johnny Brenda’s

The Vaselines | Photo by Chris Sikich | <a href=http://countfeed.tumblr.com target="_blank">countfeed.tumblr.com</a>
The Vaselines | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Last Thursday Scottish punk masters The Vaselines captivated a sold out Johnny Brenda’s. Scorching through a 22-song set, they were a brilliant act to behold. And with Philly-based Amanda X opening, it was a perfect night of rock, both old and new.

Led by the charming duo of Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee, The Vaselines were entertaining in both song and banter. Their works immortalized by Nirvana — “Son of a Gun,” “Molly’s Lips” and “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” — were riveting, with “Jesus” having a seeming air of nuanced poignancy. (And despite a seemingly out-of-place request by the audience of a Nirvana cover, they even played a brief riff from “Come as You Are.”)  Continue reading →