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Vita and The Woolf, Hemming bring it all home to Spruce Street Harbor Park

Vita and the Woolf | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Vita and the Woolf | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Throughout the whole summer, Spruce Street Harbor Park has been holding their “Waterfront Sessions,” where they invite Philly’s best and brightest musicians to grace kicked-back audiences to an evening of delight and thoughtful music. The riverside grotto consisting of hammocks and hanging fluorescent lights features several attractions for all ages to enjoy, from pop-up beer gardens for the grown-ups to plenty of wide open areas for the kids to run around and catch a couple dozen Magikarps (I have to admit that I got a couple for myself as well.)

It’s an interesting change up to see these bands play in front of smiling children playing giant chess rather than in a packed basement or a dimly-lit bar. Last week’s crowd got an extra treat as both Vita and the Woolf and Hemming‘s show on the waterfront went on after being rescheduled from a couple weeks ago due to the rain.

Vita and the Woolf started off the evening with their first Philly show since returning from tour the night before, so the band was in fine form. Vocalist Jen Pague thanked everybody for coming before starting off their set with “Brett,” the first single from their upcoming album, Tunnels. The band, now joined by new guitar player Dane Galloway along with drummer Adam Shumski, continued with tracks from their previous record, Fang Song, such as the bombastic “Mary” and the driving “Diamond Halls.” Continue reading →

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Strange Torpedo: Lucy Dacus rockets through powerful Johnny Brenda’s set

Lucy Dacus| Photo By Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
Lucy Dacus| Photo By Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

She may not want to be funny anymore, but Lucy Dacus definitely has a sense of humor. Her return to Philly after a year may have seen the Richmond, Virginia rocker wearing no shoes, playing pick-less, and sporting jokes about the disco ball, but Dacus brought a night of both quiet simplicity and powerfully crushing rock and roll to Johnny Brenda’s on Tuesday night. Continue reading →

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Lucy Dacus talks Richmond, Tiny Desk concerts, and autobiographies ahead of her Johnny Brenda’s gig on Tuesday

Lucy Dacus | photo by Dusdin Condren | courtesy of the artist
Lucy Dacus | photo by Dusdin Condren | courtesy of the artist

She may just have turned 21, but Lucy Dacus sings with the honesty of someone way beyond her years. Her debut album, No Burden, was just reissued by legendary indie Matador Records and was met with critical acclaim by everybody from TIME Magazine to NPR’s Bob Boilen. No Burden is a collection of lovelorn rock songs ornamented with Lucy’s drifting alto and honest, passionate lyrics, whether it be driving (“Strange Torpedo”) or heartbreaking (“Trust”).

Her band, made up of Oberlin music alum Jacob Blizard on guitar, Miles Huffman on drums, and Bobby King on drums, bring Lucy and her unorthodox guitar playing from a singer with a song to sing to full-on emotional catharsis. Lucy plays Johnny Brenda’s this Tuesday, July 19th, with Philly indie-rockers RFA. I spoke with Lucy on the phone about two weeks ago, where we discussed everything from her hometown of Richmond to her inspirations behind No Burden to what she has coming up in the future.  Continue reading →

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Dweller bridges the gap between abstract and concrete on debut album, This Is What Happens When You Wait Too Long

Dweller | photo courtesy of the artist
Dweller | photo courtesy of the artist

Luke Harsel and Cody Bluett have been making music together for many years, and at this point they are two sides of the same coin. They met early on in college at Temple University and spent most of their time at school with Family Vacation, the breezy beach-pop band who recently called it quits when the several band members decided to go in different musical directions.

“We just wanted an outlet for other musical ideas than we were getting at the time through Family Vacation, and once that band broke up we put all our focus on just writing and recording new songs,” said Harsel about Dweller, the duo’s new project that just recently released their first album, This Is What Happens When You Wait Too Long. Continue reading →

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XPNFest Preview: A beer with Ben Arnold at Dawson Street Pub

Ben Arnold | Photo by Matt Montella for WXPN
Ben Arnold | Photo by Matt Montella for WXPN

“I’ve learned that if you keep doing it and keep producing quality music, things happen. It’s what I am, it’s what I do.”

Ben Arnold is a lot of things: a singer, a songwriter, both a piano player and a guitar player, a super cool dude. But most of all, he’s a music man. He’s been writing, playing, and performing his whole life, and for most of his life he’s been doing it in and around Philadelphia. Arnold will be playing the XPoNential Festival next month (his 4th time!) and he played at Dawson Street Pub in Manayunk on Thursday, June 28th, which he said was both a “warm up gig” and an opportunity to play in his own neighborhood.

“Some of my family still lives in Western New York, but Philly is my adopted hometown. I love the city. I think it is one of the most culturally vibrant cities on the East coast,” said Arnold when I met with him earlier that day. “I think the music scene is killer, and its growing rapidly. This is where I really say where my family is. My base is here.” 

Arnold has been playing in various bands since he was a kid, when he went to a performing arts high school in Center City. As he has gotten older, his sound has matured with him. His most recent record, Lost Keys, was released earlier this year and features Motown and Stax influenced rhythm and soul. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Purity Ring at Union Transfer, Jackson Browne at American Music Theater, Lord Huron at The Fillmore

 

Purity Ring | Photo by Renata Raksha | courtesy of the artist
Purity Ring | Photo by Renata Raksha | courtesy of the artist

Canadian electro-pop duo Purity Ring released their sophomore album Another Eternity last year, and their tour to support the record continues at Union Transfer tonight. Opening the show will be Braids and Born Gold. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: My Son Bison at The Fire, Adult Mom at PhilaMOCA, Beyonce at Lincoln Financial Field

my son bison
My Son Bison | photo by Mikhail Bezruchko | courtesy of the artist

Experimental folk-rockers My Son Bison perform tonight at The Fire for the last night of the Sundrop Music Festival. Also performing will be Hodera, Slingshot Dakota, Water Polo, and Bad Orb. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Car Seat Headrest continue the conversation by bringing their Noise Machine to Underground Arts

Car Seat Headrest | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Car Seat Headrest | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It had only been two days since Car Seat Headrest last played in Philadelphia. Back on Friday, the four piece band fronted by indie-rock wunderkind Will Toledo was introduced by David Dye at NonCOMM (before which Dye said, “I had to play rock-paper-scissors with Bob Boilen to introduce these guys, and I won”). While it was still a great set filled with, as fellow Key writer Joe Bloss put it, “youthful lyrics and mind-numbing guitar shredding,” it was still only four songs, all of which came from the newly released and sarcastically cathartic Teens of Denial (check out K. Ross Hoffman’s great album review for the Key here). The band’s appearance at Underground Arts on Sunday night gave them the chance to expound on their Teens of Denial stuff, while also dive into louder and more fleshed-out versions of Toledo’s early Bandcamp material as well. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: TJ Tindall Tribute at Underground Arts, Live From The Lot at Ardmore Music Hall, You Won’t at Boot and Saddle, and more…

T.J. Tindall
T.J. Tindall | Photo by Steve Acito | courtesy of the artist

Legendary Philly funk and soul guitarist TJ Tindall, who played on classic hits such as the O’Jays’ “Backstabbers” and the Trammps’ “Disco Inferno,” passed away back in January, and tonight Underground Arts will be holding a tribute concert in memory of one of the creators of the “Philadelphia Sound.” Performing at the tribute show will be Duke Williams & The Extremes, Freebo, and many more. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Beach Slang at Union Transfer, Ground Up at Bourbon and Branch, Live From The Lot at Electric Factory, and more…

Beach Slang
Beach Slang at Neshaminy Creek Brewing Company | photo by James Breslin for WXPN

There might have been some rumors that punk rockers Beach Slang were going to break up recently, but their response? “If you’re still in, we are.” Well so are we. The band returns to Union Transfer tonight to light the venue on fire with blood, sweat, and rock and roll. Opening the show will be Potty Mouth, Dyke Drama, and Positive No. For tickets and more information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →