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Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker and Nick Hakim bring Johnny Brenda’s to a hush with two sold out solo sets

Adrianne Lenker | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Two seated shows on a snowy night at Johnny Brenda’s last Wednesday night had the audience holding their breath in fear of interrupting these intimate solo performers. If you closed your eyes you, couldn’t tell that anyone was in the room beside the person onstage. Performing for sold out crowds at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Adrianne Lenker (co-frontperson of acclaimed indie folk act Big Thief) and Nick Hakim had the room’s complete attention. Continue reading →

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Tyler The Creator and Vince Staples go big, introspectively, at the Liacouras Center

Tyler The Creator | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Vince Staples and Tyler, The Creator are showing serious growth from the now-disbanded Odd Future crew. With more attention spent on interactive stage settings at the Liacouras Center last week, each artist was able to deliver a more introspective set then we’ve seen from them in the past. Continue reading →

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Kimbra gives Philly fans a sneak preview of Primal Heart at Union Transfer

Kimbra | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

New Zealand singer/songwriter Kimbra took the stage at Union Transfer last Wednesday night, standing in front of two cube projector screens that slightly hid her bandmates. It made it clear: she was the main focus of the set, as was the music of her forthcoming record Primal Heart. With the right projector flash, Spencer Zahn, bass, and Timon Martin, guitar, could be seen rocking out and adding music textures with the multitude of tiny electronic music boards that seem to be able to do anything. A similar synth / vocal processing station was positioned center stage for Kimbra, allowing her to manipulate her already wildly flexible voice. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Koof Ibi Umoren’s favorite non-traditional venues of 2017

Under the Greys Ferry Bridge | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Koof Ibi Umoren (who plays trumpet with West Philadelphia Orchestra, Little Strike and a host of others) shares Philly’s best non-traditional venues to perform at in 2017.

Traditional music venues need musicians and beer in order to successful. This year has proven that musicians need beer, but not necessarily the traditional music venues. A musician can spend a lot of time performing in Philadelphia without setting foot on a traditional stage. If you’re smart and you chose an acoustic instrument in elementary school, and didn’t give it up for a cooler electronic instrument in college, then the world is literally your stage This year I’ve had the pleasure of playing and attending shows at some very interesting Philadelphia “venues,” and here’s a recap of some of my favorites. Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Kamasi Washington and Sun Ra Arkestra at Union Transfer

Kamasi Washington | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Union Transfer was packed to the rafters Saturday night when West Coast jazz visionary Kamasi Washington headlined with his octet. Touring in support of this year’s EP Harmony of Difference, Washington got to share the stage with the Sun Ra Arkestra, the storied Philly ensemble carrying the legacy of an artist pivotal to Washington’s own musical development. Check out a gallery of photo from the show below, and read more about Washington in this interview with The Key’s Alex Smith.   Continue reading →

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Ibeyi lights up the night with an engaging set at Union Transfer

Ibeyi | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

The duo of Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz — also known as Ibeyi, the word for twins in Yoruba — showcased their soothing vocals and unapologetic, youthful energy at Union Transfer last Saturday. They darted around the stage to their different instrument stations in complementary colored red and blue jumpsuits, utilizing every inch of the stage. Continue reading →