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The Tallest Man On Earth takes to the Tower stage with confidence

Tallest Man On Earth / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Tallest Man On Earth / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“I don’t want to take this for granted,” Kristian Matsson of The Tallest Man On Earth says just before slipping into “Dark Bird is Home,” the title track to his new record. Instead of it just being a small token of appreciation to Saturday’s adoring crowd at Tower Theater, the statement seemed to ground all the light feelings emitting from the stage; almost as if Matsson suddenly realized that the moment was fleeting and he might not have another chance to show his genuine gratitude. Fitting for a performance of his most recent release. Continue reading →

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A scandalous night with Of Montreal at the Chameleon Club

Of Montreal / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Of Montreal / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“I like the name Lancaster… maybe I will change my name to Lancaster!”

Mad Max, a character dressed in a red and black body suit adorned with a cape and top hat, mulled this over in the midst of a rant about letting opossums loose in the crowd to pet, and cuddling the audience to sleep “just to wake up in his basement of love.” A little odd for Kevin Barnes’ introduction, but I don’t think the crowd at the Chameleon minded too much. Eccentric was what they came for. Continue reading →

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No better way to spend a Monday; Jose Gonzalez kicks off his North American tour at Union Transfer

Jose Gonzalez / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Jose Gonzalez / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

Day one of his North American tour, and Jose Gonzalez packs Union Transfer to full capacity; not too shabby. But this was no frenzied or out-of-control crowd. Despite being shoulder-to-shoulder from balcony to floor, the evening was rather docile and intimate; something that Icelandic singer songwriter Olof Arnalds noticed right off the bat during her opening set Continue reading →

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As Comfortable as Home: Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield perform at the Keswick Theater

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“When I first heard Jessica sing this song, there was a spark,” Seth Avett said while sitting at the piano to the far right of the Keswick Theatre’s stage. He talked about when he realized their this common love for Elliott Smith had to become a project, and how he kept coming back to Jessica Lea Mayfield singing “Twilight” as the push to keep up with it over the years.

Conveying a sense of home, Avett and Mayfield performed in front of a kitchen backdrop on Saturday evening, complete with a working kettle, refrigerator, vacuum, shelves of teas and cereals, and a table placed to hold Seth’s various guitars. Touching on a bit more than cherished Elliott Smith tunes, the two musicians intertwined some of Smith’s influences along with their own works for the set. Continue reading →

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Carsie Blanton plays an endearing, entrancing set at Tellus 360

Carsie Blanton / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Carsie Blanton | Photo by Elizabeth Mazenko

If you look at her Patrean page, she is a self-described “songwriter, performer, jazz geek, pop enthusiast, and thoughtful hedonist.” Read her bio to learn that she is “an unschooler, a sex blogger, and a Lindy Hopper.” Check out her blog to find her “thoughts on love, sex, music and ferocity.” She lives in a pink house just outside the French quarter of New Orleans with a studio out back called The Watermelon. Her genre on Facebook is “the good kind,” and has been praised by reputable sources like Washington Post, USA Today, OffBeat Magazine, and even John Oates…just to name a few.

There’s no denying that chic singer songwriter Carsie Blanton has a flare of all her own. And the amount of purity and musical depth she brings to a stage is nothing short of entrancing. Thursday evening, Blanton and her touring entourage brought some New Orleanian warmth to a bitter Lancaster winter at the wood trimmed Irish pub Tellus 360. Continue reading →

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Dancing Like A Wild Fire: Bombay Bicycle Club and more at Union Transfer

Bombay Bicycle Club / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Bombay Bicycle Club / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“All right, let’s get this dance party going!” Bombay Bicycle Club’s Jack Steadman beckoned as he brought forward a small drumset and launched straight into “Feel” off of 2014′s So Long, See You Tomorrow.

Tuesday evening, Union Transfer filled up with a mixed crowd of older adults tapping into their youth, teens trying to amp up their cool, and every age in between fashioning beanies, boots, and military jackets. But as broad as the crowd might have been, they all gathered with one thing in common… a love for the London-based indie rock six-piece. Continue reading →

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A train is no match for The Avett Brothers’ set at Musikfest

The Avett Brothers / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
The Avett Brothers / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“Well my good Lord was with me tonight. Just ridin’ beside me tonight. And now were’ just talkin’, we’re hitch hiking walkin’. We’ll see you in Bethlehem tonight. And now we’re just talkin’, just hitchhiker walkin’. We’ll see you in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania tonight.”

Last night, Seth Avett enchanted the MusikFest crowd with his solo performance of “In The Curve” from The Avett Brothers‘ from 2007′s Emotionalism. It wasn’t quite what he implied while leaving The Mann Center stage in September, but Bethlehem isn’t too far off the map, and the band had the steel stacks as their backdrop as they headlined Musikfest last night. Continue reading →

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Matt Pond celebrates 10th anniversary of Emblems at Underground Arts

Matt Pond / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Matt Pond / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“We’re going to play an album,” Matt Pond tells a Philly crowd in the colorful low lights of a basement room. “And it goes something like this.” The singer and songwriter then launched straight into Emblems’ opening track, “KC.”

It’s been 10 years, down to the month, since the release of the haunting Matt Pond PA album Emblems. And now 5 full-lengths, 7 EPs, 9 singles, and a name strip-down later, the band is briefly slipping back on the “PA” for a May-long, mini North American tour. Coming back to its early roots Friday night, Matt Pond and his band – who were based in Philly once upon a time – celebrated the album’s 10th anniversary with a three band bill at Underground Arts.

First to the stage was Philly’s rising folk rock group Rosu Lup. Backed by strings and light orchestrations, the core trio blends beautiful Americana-esque harmonies with the powerful elegance of cello, violins, and a bit of trumpet. Giving the audience all that they had, Rosu Lup played an ethereal set complete with tunes off of their recent Currents EP, a cover of Matt Pond’s “Brooklyn Fawn,” and a well-received cello solo. Although their inspirations seem to be somewhat eclectic, Rosu Lup’s dynamic orchestrations stitch together a variety of thoughts and sounds seamlessly. I’m not one to catch too many trends before they happen, but this is definitely a band you should keep your ears on.

The Lighthouse and the Whaler / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
The Lighthouse and the Whaler / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

Next, Ohio pop-folk quad The Lighthouse and the Whaler took over the stage with their jaunty tunes and knee-bouncing energy. Touring alongside Matt Pond for the 10th anniversary, the band brought along a violin / keyboard floater who added in a certain oomph to their already-invigorating blend of mandolins, glockenspiels, guitars, and drums. Getting the crowd on their toes while keeping on his own, lead singer Michael LoPresti lead the band through a series of tunes including the title track off of their 2012 album This is an Adventure. With a sound similar to The Last Bison and Lord Huron, this is one band you don’t want to miss next time they’re in town.

Finally Matt Pond took to the stage, humbled that so many fans came out to support the tour and their upcoming happenings. “It’s like ‘people know this stuff?’” Pond tells me bewildered while shaking hands after the show. But when it comes to knowing Matt Pond’s work, Philly knows it to a tee. “I’m going home, back to New Hampshire. I’m so determined. I’m so determined…” the crowd sang long in awe as Pond and his band flawlessly played though the “honest dose of melancholy” album, as Paste Magazine described Pond in 2004. To complete the nostalgic show, the band came back to the stage for a four song encore including “Love to Get Used” from their 2013 release The Lives Inside the Lives In Your Hands.

As a ‘thank you’ to all of his listeners, Pond recently released Skeletons and Friends via Noisetrade. “It’s an album of brightened corners and beautifully incomplete sentences. It’s the structure and skeleton of what’s to come,” Pond describes, which is the perfect way to describe the framework tracks in my opinion.

Check out and reminisce with the photo gallery and set list from Friday’s show below.

Continue reading →

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Playing in Lancaster feels like home to Wye Oak

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko / Wye Oak
Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko / Wye Oak

You almost can’t go wrong with a Saturday show at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club. And this past Saturday was a grand performance by rising Baltimore duo Wye Oak as they celebrate their April release of Shriek.

Keeping the night experimental from start to finish, Montreal shoegaze-inspired art rockers Braids took to the Lizard Lounge stage first. The lights stayed low as the three members took the crowd on a psychedelic ride through tracks off of Flourish // Perish (2013) and Native Speaker (2011). Don’t be fooled by the soft spoken demeanor of lead singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston. Although this frontwoman seems like the sweet girl next door, her high pitched vocals gives an extra power kick to the edgy downbeats and Sombear vibes.

The intimate crowd pushed forward as Wye Oak came to the stage. Although just a duo, their synthesized heavy sound packs the punch of a full band complete with keys, drums, and bass. The sound of Shriek is a bit of a departure for the duo, whose earlier work leaned more indie-folk. Although their fist time to play in Lancaster, lead singer Jen Wasner told the crowd that it was just like playing at home for a room filled with family and friends. Running through a well-received set from their latest Shriek, the band came back to the stage for a four song encore to finish off the night. Wye Oak is a duo you do not want to miss as they roll through town. With each guitar riff and downbeat head-banging worthy, it is hard not to fall into a trance under the eclectic melodies and compelling vocals.

If you didn’t catch the show in Lancaster, make sure to get tickets for their Union Transfer show tonight. Check out the photo gallery below to see what you’re in for.

 

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The Stray Birds flew home after touring in Ireland and the UK

The Stray Birds / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
The Stray Birds / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

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
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.