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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.

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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.

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Low Cut Connie strut their stuff at Tellus 360

Low Cut Connie / Photos By Elizabeth Mazenko
Low Cut Connie / Photos By Elizabeth Mazenko

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 / 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.

 

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Typhoon strikes an eclectic note at today’s Free at Noon

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

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.

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Suzy Bogguss shows her love for Merle Haggard at today’s Free At Noon

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“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).

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From Behind The Barricade: The Wonder Years tour kickoff had the Chameleon Club pulsing with energy

The Wonder Years / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
The Wonder Years / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

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 / 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
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.

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Elizabeth and the Catapult took the performance to the upstairs stage for Free at Noon

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

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.

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Sam Roberts Band amped up the Philly crowd at today’s Free at Noon

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

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.

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