The lights went low, leaving only the glow of handcrafted wooden chandeliers hanging above the back bar. The audience packed into seats starting about two feet away from the stage and ending in the back of the large hall. Spot lights went up on a few mics and strewn string instruments as Maya de Vitry took center stage first, leading the hauntingly aggressive folk ballad “Adelaide.”
Friday evening, Central PA folk phenomenon The Stray Birds came home to Lancaster’s Tellus 360 after ending their UK and Ireland tour. Playing at home for friends and family, the trio shared the stage with Boston-based singer songwriter Deitrich Strause.
Dietrich Strause / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
With the room buzzing with chatter and a stage to himself, Strause started the evening with a beautiful acoustic set reminiscent of Swedish folk singer Kristian Matsson. One at a time, he invited each of the trio to the stage to sing a duet. Telling the audience that playing with The Stray Birds is like having a little bit of Lancaster with him, Stause invited the three bandmates to the stage to help him sing an homage to Lancaster. This enchanting set is definitely one that you wouldn’t want to miss again. So plan for Strause’s return Lancaster on the 16th alongside David Wax Museum.
After a fifteen minute intermission to climb over people and refresh drinks, The Stray Birds came on with a humble confidence as they dedicated each song to someone or something special in their lives. “I want to send this song out to my dad. He can’t be here because he’s got a gig,” de Vitry states before starting “Harlem.” “That’s the kind of people I come from. My dad’s got a gig and my mom is at home watching basketball,” she chuckles while reassuring the audience that they will see her in Philly.
For a full two hours de Vitry, Oliver Craven, and Charlie Muench took turns sharing center stage and running through a flawless set of organic harmonies and carefully crafted strings. So not to taint the pure beauty, barely anyone wanted to sing along to favorites like “San Antonio Rose,” “Dream In Blue,” and their version of Nanci Griffith’s “I Wish It Would Rain.” Narrating how she seeks out the buildings that were in her textbook and wrote this song after visiting the Lorraine Motel, de Vitry precedes “The Bells” by saying “This song is for Martin Luther King Jr. and the vision that didn’t die when he did.” Finally returning the favor to Strause, the three invited him back on the stage to finish out the exquisitely crafted set.
They Stray Birds released their new EP Echo Sessions this past February and will continue with their American tour through May. Check out the photo gallery below to relive the Lancaster performance.
Last Thursday evening, Philly’s finest honky-tonk rock ‘n’ rollers Low Cut Connie strutted into Lancaster and ruffled up the evocative atmosphere of one-of-a-kind bar and carpentry Tellus 360. Still celebrating their Harry Nilsson tribute This Is A Town, and sharing the stage with York/Philly’s psychedelic instrumentalists Sprinter Cat, the evening was truly a performance of phenomenal keyed-up rockers just having fun.
Sprinter Cat / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Sprinter Cat took to the makeshift stage first, complete with a Hammond organ adorn in Christmas lights. “This song is about taking mushrooms for the first time and listening to Brittany Spears in a car,” zesty organist and band frontman Al Smith (better known for his percussion skills in The Cold Fronts) stated before plunging into a radical instrumental journey of guitar riffs, bongo beats, and resonating organ melodies. Getting good vibes and head nods from the modest crowd, Sprinter Cat played a fantastic set of a sound reminiscent to the Jerry Garcia Band and Grateful Dead.
Next up came over the top, party lovers Low Cut Connie. Keeping the posh ambiance for a “classier crowd” than he expected, modern day “piano man” Adam Weiner started off the set with “Shit, Shower and Shave” from 2011 debut album Get Out The Lotion. Making up for the lack of dancing by a laidback Lancaster crowd, the eccentric five piece band jumped about the stage while playing all-around favorites like “Boozophilia.” Not holding anything back at a place where everyone might not know his name, Weiner pulled out some impressive moves atop his piano bench; showing off his flexibility and a little skin. “I’m going to tell you some strange things men do” proclaimed Weiner, as he launched into a song about a Tina Turner drag queen, “Shake It Little Tina.” Maybe it was the high energy, well-humored raunchiness, or just the alcohol kicking in, the newfound Low Cut Connie fans in the room finally loosened up to a knee bouncing, chair dancing groove, cheering for more as the band announced their return May 1st.
Portland, Oregon’s Typhoon played to a starstruc Philly crowd for Free at Noon, with eclectic sounds reminiscent of Fleet Foxes and Beirut. Warming up their fans for tonight’s Union Transfer show, the almost-dozen folk ensemble played tunes like “Dreams of Cannibalism” and “Common Sentiments” off of their latest release White Lighter. Prep for their next performance by checking out and listening to the Free At Noon show below.
“I heard that he got the idea for this song because he and his wife had been out on the road a lot together,” country singer/songwriter Suzy Bogguss says before starting off today’s Free At Noon performance with a Merle Haggard cover. “…He saw her from across the airport and remembered how lucky he was. And he walked over and he touched her on the shoulder and he said to her, Today I started loving you again.”
Today Bogguss and her back-up boys stopped by the World Cafe Live to celebrate her latest release Lucky. Narrating why she chose each song on her Haggard tribute, Bogguss crooned to the crowd with pure elegance performing well known Merle tunes like “Silver Wings” and “The Bottle Let Me Down.” Tonight, catch the entire entourage again at Sellersville Theater. Check out today’s performance by viewing the setlist and photo gallery, and listening to the archived performance here (via the WXPN media player).
Last Thursday, The Wonder Years dropped by Lancaster’s Chameleon Club to kick off their U.S. spring tour along with Philly’s Modern Baseball, midwestern crew Citizen, and Detroit’s Fireworks. Never having been to a pop-punk show before, everyone assured me that I would have a lot of fun. But “fun” didn’t prepare me for the craziness of the crowd that night.
Modern Baseball / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Modern Baseball began the five hours of punk rock madness with a few tunes from their February album You’re Gonna Miss It All. With a full crowd singing along to almost every song and a few early-bird crowd surfers, the quirky quartet warmed up the three-tiered sold-out venue with a more professional power-pop sound than their endearing 2012 release Sports.
Citizen ran up next with a more aggressive approach. Three security guards joined me behind the barricade, as more and more of the crowd was getting comfortable making their way to the stage atop their fellow rockers’ hands.
Delivering angst-ridden vocals, frontman Mat Kerekes thrashed about the stage with some favorites from their 2013 release Youth like “Sleep” and “Speaking With A Ghost.”
Fireworks took the stage with a performance more explosive than their name. From start to finish the crowd was pulsing with one another’s energy. (I was asked to leave the photo area as two more security guards rushed in to catch the people pouring over the wall.)
Fireworks / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Kicking up the mood a few notches as a modest mosh pit erupted, the thrashy quintet opened with new song “Glowing Crosses” off of their anticipated album Oh, Common Life Out (out March 25th)and finished with 2009 favorite “When We Stand On Each Other We Block Out The Sun” from All I Have To Offer Is My Own Confusion.
I really did not think that the audience could get more rowdy than they did during Fireworks’ set, but apparently I was wrong. When The Wonder Years hit the stage, it was instantly a ruckus on the floor. The crowd pushed harder. The crowd surfers came non-stop. Trying to get to the back of the crowd, I found out just how much the small mosh pit grew. The double balconies were roaring with excitement as Dan Campbell started off the set with “There, There” off of 2013 release The Greatest Generation. Running through a fantastic set at a venue he used to frequent, Campbell finished out the show with an encore performance of “I Just Want To Sell Out My Funeral.”
So “fun” did not prepare me quite enough for this show. I guess I had to just experience it. But now I know one thing…If I had to describe it, I would call it a cluster-cuss of pure intensity and energy.
Finishing today’s doubleheader Free At Noon performance upstairs, Brooklyn-based Elizabeth and the Catapult enchanted the Philly crowd with a sound reminiscent to Regina Spektor and A Fine Frenzy. Featuring their January release Like It Never Happened, the quartet played a few poetic tunes such as “Sugar Covered Poison” and “Thank You for Nothing.” Listen to the full performance below by clicking on the XPN music player under the photo galley and set list.
Canadian singer/songwriter Sam Roberts amped up the Free At Noon crowd today at World Cafe Live. Celebrating the release of Lo-Fantasy earlier this month, the band ran through some new hits like “We’re All In This Together” and “Golden Hour.” Couldn’t make it out to see them today? That’s okay. Catch their follow up performance tonight in the same place. Tickets and information are available here. Can’t make that either? That’s fine too. Simply check out the archived performance, set list, and photos below.