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Photo Recap: The crowd gets Spanked before Robert Glasper Experiment at World Cafe Live

Robert Glasper Experiment at World Cafe Live | Photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN | koofibi.com

Following last year’s ArtScience, Jazz pianist Robert Glasper brought his quartet of experimental jazz instrumentation with hip-hop (and a little bit of everything else) undertones back to Philly for a show at World Cafe Live on June 20th. Glasper hit the stage after a dynamic performance from Philly trio Spank, led by musician, producer and world renowned drummer George “Spanky” McCurdy. Check out what went down in the gallery Continue reading →

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Photo Recap: Tigers Jaw, Saintseneca and Smidley packed the Union Transfer

Tigers Jaw | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Hometown heroes Tigers Jaw returned to Philadelphia Friday night with a packed gig at Union Transfer. The band is touring in support of their latest album Spin which was released May 19th on Black Cement Records. Accompanying Tigers Jaw on this tour is the indie folk band Saintseneca along with Smidley, a new project from Foxing lead singer Conor Murphy. Check out the full photo gallery from the night Continue reading →

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Firefly on Film: Reflections of a weekend in the Woodlands on 35mm

Firefly 2017 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Important thing to remember this festival season: a fifty percent chance of rain is also a fifty percent chance of no rain. It could be a fifty percent chance of scorching sun and dry heat. Reality might not line up with your anticipations, and the best approach is to be prepared for anything and expect the unexpected.

This is something that came up at several intervals last weekend at Delaware’s Firefly Music Festival; I went in expecting to get soaked and instead I got sunburnt, I’d read media murmurs about diminished attendance but found it positively jumpin on Saturday; I thought (from experience at XPNFest a few years back) that Bob Dylan was going to to be insufferable and sad, and he was actually mostly very good — the best thing we can hope for with a Dylan set in 2017, honestly — closing his nearly 90-minute performance with a ripping “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Continue reading →

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Actually Maybe Do Call It A Comeback: LCD Soundsystem at Brooklyn Steel

LCD Soundsystem | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

LCD Soundsystem isn’t having a bad year for a band that’s been dead for the better part of a decade. Last night in Brooklyn, they played the 5th show of their 2nd New York residency this year. With a world tour culminating in a 3rd, 10-day stand at new venue Brooklyn Steel, they’re really laying it on thick. All told, that’s 22 shows at the venue that the christened back in April, with the original 5-night run. I have yet to meet a single person in real life who’s mad that LCD is playing so many shows — and why would they be? This is a band that was an absolute standardbearer for the oughties fledgling indie/dance/whatever-core scene that they now reign over as ensconced legends. 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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Firefly on the Fly, Day Two: Weezer, Judah & The Lion, Sofi Tukker, Flume, Twenty One Pilots, and more

Weezer | Firefly Music Festival 2017 | Photo by John Vettese

Here’s a quick rundown of day two of the Firefly Music Festival. While there were over thirty bands on the schdedule on Friday, the big hits of the day were Twenty One Pilots — whose fans are the hypest people at the festival by far — and Judah & The Lion, who opened the main stage in the afternoon. Judah & The Lion joined Twenty One Pilots during their set to cover “Tubthumping” by Chumbawumba and “Jump Around” by House of Pain and the world exploded.

Sofi Tukker was the best set I saw today. The Brooklyn based duo – Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern – played very interactive dance rock with touches of South American percussion. Maggie Rogers came onstage to join in on a song with them. Banks was stunning; and her haunting performance was marked with beautiful sound, choreography, and a lot of awesome weirdness. Franz Ferdinand DJ’d Euro pop on the Treehouse Stage after their main stage set; and Louie Louie performed on the Campground Stage. Continue reading →

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Future Perfect: Future Islands Break It Down at the Fillmore

Future Islands | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

This kinda thing doesn’t happen by accident. A band like Baltimore’s Future Islands doesn’t go from under-the-radar to overnight sensation without putting in the legwork. And while frontman Samuel T. Herring does put in a lot of literal leg-work with his wild dance maneuvers on stage, the band’s path to the huge stage at the Fillmore on Monday evening took more than a fair share of emotional lifting, as well. New release The Far Field (out last month on 4AD) plays out less as a breakup record than a forlorn catalog of Herring’s sins.

With a bombastic legacy of hits and smashing live performances to live up to, a down note might not have been what newcoming and long-lived fans were looking for. But seeing is, as they say, believing. For many, the infamous 2014 Letterman performance remains both introduction and centerpiece of the Future Islands brand. But three years removed, many now know the band — and the bombastic frontman — as something more three-dimensional than simply a great showman. While the dance moves perpetually continue to impress, they seem a little bit less pronounced than the twin sold-out shows I saw at Union Transfer in early 2015. Continue reading →

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Oh My Golly! Pixies bring their A-game at the Electric Factory

Pixies | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Pixies took the Electric Factory stage Tuesday night to an obscure B-side: The Beatles’ “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number).” Formalities dispensed, without introductions or interim chatter they vaulted into a virtual medley of some 30-odd songs, an exhaustive sampler representing each era of a three-decade career.

Singer Black Francis and company shared the majority of their latest record, last year’s Head Carrier, and juxtaposed many of their more prominent singles with some favorite “deep cuts” as well. “Debaser,” “Monkey Gone To Heaven” and “Wave Of Mutilation” were offered side-by-side with Doolittle counterparts “No. 13 Baby,” “Mr. Grieves” and “Hey.”  Continue reading →

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Play It Right: Sylvan Esso at Union Transfer

Sylvan Esso | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

 

It’s hard to imagine many bands that are more just plain fun than Sylvan Esso. And last weekend during two very sold-out shows at Union Transfer, they both had fun performing and shared their magical sense of passion and humor with an adoring crowd of fans. I had been waiting to see the band again for almost two years, since first encountering them in Wisconsin at Justin Vernon’s inaugural Eaux Claires festival — and getting to see their explosive presence touring behind the just-released What Now did not, of course, disappoint. Continue reading →

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Whitney bring the joyous Light Upon The Lake to Union Transfer

Whitney | photo by Tyler Asay for WXPN

On Monday night, Chicago indie rock band Whitney, who released their acclaimed debut Light Upon The Lake last year, played to fans both young and old at a packed Union Transfer. “This might be the biggest room we’ve played so far,” remarked vocalist/drummer Julian Ehrlich. “Get used to it!” exclaimed a voice from the audience, and he’s right. This talented six-piece, playing a modern version of soul/country-infused indie rock with catchy, cathartic melodies, only has larger rooms in front of them.

“The last time we were here in Philadelphia,” said Ehrlich, “We played at Johnny Brenda’s and there were five people there.” Whitney was started by Ehrlich (formerly of Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and guitarist Max Kakacek (of the disbanded Smith Westerns) in Chicago in 2015. Their set, which lasted a little over an hour, was made up of all the songs from their record, with a couple new ones thrown in as well. Continue reading →