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Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young + Promise of the Real, and Sheryl Crow headlining Outlaw Music Festival

Neil Young photo via NPR World Cafe session
Neil Young | photo by Julie Gardner | NPR

Willie Nelson & Family, Neil Young + Promise of the Real, and Sheryl Crow are headlining the inaugural Outlaw Music Festival taking place Sunday, September 18th at Montage Mountain, Scranton. Additional performers announced so far including the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Lee Ann Womack, and Brothers Osborne. Continue reading →

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Watch Japanese Breakfast’s Out of Town Films session, see them on tour (and in Philly!) this fall

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com | courtesy of the artist

Michelle Zauner and her bandmates in Japanese Breakfast have been blowing minds around the country on tour with Mitski this summer, and they’re gearing up for a big run with Porches this fall in support of their album Psychopomp. Released in April, the record is a brilliant airing of grief through guitar-driven dream-pop, and the band rocks the living hell out of it when they step to the stage.

We get a taste of that in their recent Out of Town Films session for “Everybody Wants To Love You,” released last week. Continue reading →

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Duran Duran balances the new and the classic at BB&T Pavillion

Duran Duran | Photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN
Duran Duran | Photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN

Generation X was out in full force on Thursday night for Duran Duran‘s gig at BB&T Pavilion. Though the band is now 35 years into its recording career, most fans came to hear the old hits — and the band did a masterful job of mixing things up a bit with both old and new rooted in their signature synthpop sound. The female-voiced roar that went up as they hit the stage was deafening, and the dance party that would ensue was even more epic as thousands re-lived memories from the 80’s and 90’s. The 18-song set only included five tracks from Paper Gods, their latest release and first in five years, filling the rest of the list with a majority of their hits from over the years. Continue reading →

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Strand of Oaks, Quilt and more play a stacked free show in York this weekend

Strand of Oaks
Strand of Oaks | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

You would think that after this weekend, we’d be ready to take a break from outdoor summer concerts, but no – this is a lineup worth another day out in the sun for. This Saturday, July 30th, the Summer Art Market in York brings together Philly rock heroes Strand of Oaks, NYC psychedelic buzzmakers Quilt, the Brazilian psychedelic rock band Boogarins and Brooklyn four-piece Big Thief for an afternoon free concert on the York College Stage at Royal Square District. It’s the inaugural year of this festival, presented by Central PA’s Parliament Arts Organization in conjunction with York College, and in the mix with the music will be craft vendors and food vendors and lots of generally awesome stuff. Philly people, plan your road trips now – York is only two hours away. Central PA people, it’s an incredible show right in your back yard – let’s do this. More information can be found here.  Music from each of the artists below. Continue reading →

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Gwen Stefani brings Truth to BB&T Pavilion

Gwen Stefani @ BB&T Pavilion, Camden, NJ
Gwen Stefani | Photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN | wendymccardle.com

There are a handful of adolescence-defining songs for which I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first heard them.  No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” is one of those songs.  I have vivid memories of sitting by myself in the family room of my childhood home, watching MTV’s Alternative Nation at midnight and seeing that music video for the first time.  There was No Doubt frontwoman Gwen Stefani, a doe-eyed and pouty-lipped atomic force of energy shining like a beacon at the end of the tunnel that was my grunge-filled childhood.  Not too long after, I caught No Doubt at the Electric Factory and in turn, Stefani became the first female musician I ever saw perform live.  All I remember is trying really hard not to cry.  Back then I was far too young to understand those emotions or why they were happening, but it certainly wasn’t the last time I’d experience them in a concert setting.

Spring forward nearly two decades and I’m seeing Gwen Stefani again during her This Is What The Truth Feels Like tour.  In support of the album of the same name – her first in ten years – last Tuesday’s stop in Camden, NJ was only the fourth of a 27-city solo trek which was plagued before it even began by embarrassingly low ticket sales as critics continue to dismiss Stefani’s third solo effort as a mere vehicle to promote her new role as judge on NBC’s The Voice.  And so, baffling was the choice, once the house lights were cut, to greet the audience not with the guiltily pleasurable “Hollaback Girl”, the undeniably infectious “The Sweet Escape” or hell, even the current saccharine single “Make Me Like You,” but with a video clip of Stefani explaining how she believed she was finished with music a long time ago.

Continue reading →

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Let Them Roll: Brandi Carlile, Old Crow Medicine Show wrap up XPNFest with maximum energy

Brandi Carlile | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com
Brandi Carlile | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

Okay, Brandi Carlile, I promise to never again pigeonhole the wonderful thing you do as “singer-songwriter” or “roots / Americana.” Just keep slaying like you did from the BB&T Pavilion stage on the closing night of XPN Fest.

The Seattle-rooted musician and longtime XPN favorite took the stage last night not only with Tim and Phil Hanseroth – aka “The Twins,” her longtime collaborators on guitar, bass and vocals – but with a rousing full band that elevated her songs to arena rock proportions befitting the huge amphitheater they were performing in. On drums, Brian Griffin propelled the music forth; on cello and keys, Josh Neumann added nuanced, atmospheric accents; on guitar, Gibb Droll rumbled and roared. Carlile is gripping as a solo performer, no doubt — she made all of NonCOMM cry back in 2015, after all — but seeing her with this lineup is next-level.

Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Femi Kuti & The Positive Force share the beauty of Africa to close out Wiggins Park

Femi Kuti | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Femi Kuti | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Femi Kuti saw no need in doing a lot talking Sunday.

“We hope you see the beauty of Africa through music,” he said.

It was hard to miss the beauty even with a passing glance. Kuti himself was sporting yellow African garb, while most of his band, The Positive Force, donned vivid red. Three women decked out in intricate yellow outfits danced nonstop for the better part of an hour while also providing backing vocals and instrumentation. Altogether, the stage had 14 performers all at once. Plus, Kuti’s adorable daughter was free to roam wherever she pleased. Sometimes that meant dancing, other times it meant grabbing dad a water bottle.

That’s all just visual though. Musically, they brought a fast paced and politically charged dance party to the River Stage that rivaled anything the weekend had seen thus far. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Low Cut Connie shimmy and shake up the Marina Stage

Low Cut Connie | Photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com
Low Cut Connie | Photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

At his beloved piano Shondra, Adam Weiner hopped onto his piano bench, and with one leg extended in the air parallel with the ground, he continued to bang the keys during Low Cut Connie‘s rousing set on the Jerseyarts.com Marina Stage. Weiner isn’t about conventional playing, standing on his bench has become so ingrained in the band’s shows that his microphone extends to compensate for the added height. At one point he even stomped the keys with his feet before shimming in circles and grooving his hips to the music. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Mavis Staples takes us there with a powerful River Stage performance

Mavis Staples | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Mavis Staples | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

After singing “Freedom Highway,” Mavis Staples shared the story behind the song written by her father in 1962. “Pops Staples wrote that song for the big march,” she told us of the iconic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. “I was there, and I’m still here…I’m a living witness, a soldier!” she said. Staples went on to say that she’s part of an army of love, fighting for hope and peace.

It was a well-timed moment from a timeless musician. In a weekend where one performer told the festival faithful that the evils of the world were the reasoning behind him cutting his performance short, Staples took the opposite approach. She provided the antidote to the evils of the world, a performance full of heart and happiness. The 77-year-old used every ounce of soul in her to put together a show even better than what her household reputation called for. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: David Wax Museum stay the night to play day three

David Wax Museum | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
David Wax Museum | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

David Wax Museum was just as excited as fans were to be rescheduled to day three of XPoNential Festival after having their set cancelled due to torrential downpours yesterday afternoon. Not only did they stay the night to perform, but if fans just couldn’t get enough, the band announced during their set that they will be returning to Philly for New Year’s Eve 2017 with a celebration performance at Johnny Brenda’s. The band counts the venue as one of their favorite in all of the country. Continue reading →