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Dessa plays to the fans at a sold-out World Cafe Live

Dessa | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

I had a chance to speak to Dessa before her show at World Cafe Live on Thursday night, and in my moment of terrible small talk, I mentioned how uncomfortable I sometimes feel at venues like the upstairs. It is a stage that is barely elevated, with direct crowd access, and I know I’m blocking people (I’m 6’2”). I always try to be mindful of that, and move off to the side/back after a song or two, to get out of the way.  Color me surprised when Dessa stopped the show, after the first song, and, in a moment of professional courtesy, invited me to the stage to capture a photo of her in front of the crowd.  It was a small moment, but a gesture that meant a lot to me, as a photographer that has dedicated 10 years and thousands of shows to this, but more importantly, as a fan. Continue reading →

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Kesha shines at The Fillmore Philly

Kesha | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Kesha Rose Sebert (better known as just Kesha) made one thing abundantly clear as soon as she hit the stage at the Fillmore on Saturday night – she was there on her terms.  With more than a few middle fingers to her detractors, she loudly proclaimed that she owns her music, and she takes care of herself.  After an extended absence, and some demoralizing public battles, Kesha has a new album with Rainbow and a fresh, positive outlook on the future.  Welcome back, Kesha. Continue reading →

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Manchester Orchestra and friends play a thunderous show to a sold out Fillmore

Manchester Orchestra | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Manchester Orchestra make rock music.  While you could potentially apply any number of hyphenates to their style, they are all extraneous.  They make “rock” music, and, they make it well.  More than a decade in to the game, Andy Hull has one of the most prestigious discography’s in the biz, and he’s barely 31.  Five (technically six) albums, a fistful of EPs, and an ever growing legion of fans that realize that Manchester Orchestra is not here to reinvent rock music, but to save it.

Each album buys them a bigger venue, from North Star Bar, to TLA, to the Temple Performing Arts Center, and finally Sunday night at the Fillmore.  Each step up is paid for in blood and sweat, as they work hard to earn their status as a must-see live act.  Selling out the venue, they did not shy away from fan favorites like “Shake It Out” mingled amongst new material from A Black Mile to the Surface (opening with the triple-threat of “The Maze,” “The Gold,” and “The Moth”).  Every song sounds thunderous, even milder material on the albums comes with a layer of grit on it when Hull’s falsetto goes reaching, straining for the skylights. Continue reading →

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Neurosis and Converge brought a metal masterclass to Union Transfer

Neurosis | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

30 years in to the career, Neurosis has lost none of their edge. They have the swagger and confidence of people who have been in the game for as long as they have, but their stage presence is void of pretension. While many credit them as one of the forefathers of what could simply be called “post-metal” they make no claim to any throne other than the one of being able to reign down hell with the urgency of molasses pouring from a jar — which is as fine a description as any of their Union Transfer gig on Monday night. Continue reading →

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Sir Sly and SHAED exude fun with a packed crowd at The Fillmore’s Foundry

Sir Sly | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Los Angeles’ Sir Sly make their kind of infectious indie-pop-rock so well that it was no surprise to walk in to The Foundry a bit early only to be confronted by a crowd of dedicated fans pushed up against the stage. Make no mistake: their music appeals to the sing-along set, and they know every word. The all ages show left little room for stragglers, and the trio themselves did the best they could to exude fun energy across the limited stage size. Vocalist Landon Jacobs carries himself with a swagger that could have benefited from a little more space, but had no trouble working the crowd up, while Jason Suwito and Hayden Coplen kept the grooves going. Continue reading →

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Boyz II Men, New Kids On The Block, and Paula Abdul shared the Wells Fargo Stage on “Total Package Tour”

Clockwise from top left, Paula Abdul, New Kids On The Block and Boyz II Men performed live at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday June 24th | Photos by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

I am not a New Kids On The Block fan.  I am also not a New Kids On The Block hater.  I grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, and adopted the persona wholeheartedly.  I watched Saved By The Bell, had a slap bracelet, and saw Cool As Ice in theaters (if you’ve never heard of that, Google it and come back to berate me in the comments).  NKOTB was something that permeated the era, so I knew their songs, I saw their videos, and yes, I memorized some lyrics.  I watched the videos on MTV, and along with Paula Abdul and Boyz II Men among many others, would record the video shows on VHS to watch over and over. Continue reading →

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Philly dedicates a stretch of Broad Street to hometown R&B icon, Boyz II Men

Boys II Men Blvd Ceremony |Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

On Saturday afternoon, June 24th, 2017, the city of Philadelphia officially renamed the stretch of Broad Street between Christian and Carpenter as Boyz II Men BLVD. The R&B crooners have had a long and storied career that began in the city almost 3 decades ago. The fitting tribute took place on the steps of the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts. Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Sigur Ros at The Mann

Sigur Ros | Photo by Matthew Shaver | matthewshaver.com

Icelandic post rock band Sigur Ros brought its summer tour to the Mann Center for the Performing Arts last night. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the band performed two career-spanning sets as a trio, mixed with their trademark visual spectacle. Check out a gallery of photos from the show care of our Matthew Shaver. Continue reading →

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Block Rockin’ Beats: A primer on 1997’s Big Beat scene, The Chemical Brothers to The Crystal Method

The Chemical Brothers in 1997 | photo by Jake Chessum

Though I was only a preteen, I have vivid memories of the late 80s/early 90s in the US, and what was happening in music as far MTV and pop radio were telling me. What I didn’t, and really couldn’t, realize was the impact that two seemingly unrelated music cultures were having across the pond. Dance music bounced back from the demise of disco, and acid House was fueling clubs and raves across Britain. Unexpectedly, American hip-hop was also playing a large role in the same scenes, as kids soaked in the phenomena, DJs across the UK became superstars, and began building their own arsenal of music that combined multiple genres.

Two of these DJs even payed homage in name, borrowing from the production duo that helmed the seminal Beastie Boys album, Paul’s Boutique until they were forced to Exit Planet Dust. For their follow up, Dig Your Own Hole, The Chemical Brothers — Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons — made a statement that would continue the transformation of the techno landscape forever in the spring of 1997. As the guitar loops kicked in, it was actually Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D that ushered in this new era with a sample form his “Gucci Again” and let us know they were “Back with another of those block rockin’ beats!”

What followed was a grandiose tour through psychedelic breakbeats that featured stops from Noel Gallagher (a huge accomplishment for a techno act in that day), and continued Beth Orton’s drive to forge her own genre that would be lovingly referred to as “folktronica.” Interweaved in to all of it were heavily acidic bass lines, funky guitars, and hip-hop samples. It solidified them as leaders of the sound defined as Big Beat. Continue reading →

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Interview: Eisley’s Sherri Dupree on family, anxiety and approaching the band anew

Eisley
Eisley | Photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

Indie pop-rock darlings Eisley have a new album out called I’m Only Dreaming.  Singer/songwriter Sherri Dupree took time out of her hectic schedule to talk to The Key about the current tour, working with family, and some of the changes in the lineup. They headline tonight at The Foundry of The Fillmore Philadelphia; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →