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Free at Noon Flashback: Hurray for the Riff Raff brings spirited folk to World Cafe Live

Hurray for the Riff Raff | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | <A href=http://www.spotlightviews.com/ target="_blank">spotlightviews.com</a>
Hurray for the Riff Raff | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com

“When I left home at 17, I ended up in Philadelphia for a few months. You took very good care of me, so thank you.”

Hurray for the Riff Raff, the brainchild of singer-songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra, took the Free at Noon stage at World Cafe Live this afternoon for a vibrant performance of tracks from of their recent record The Navigator. Segarra and crew’s style of folk rock tunes has that bit of spirited flair, infusing Latin and indie roots to create an expansively personal sound.

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Watch Kurt Vile bust out a jam with Tinariwen at Union Transfer

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

Last night, Tinariwen took over Union Transfer for a night of relaxed jams, and while the Tuareg artists blew away the crowd with tunes and tones from the African desert, they wanted to throw a little bit of this city in.

Out of nowhere, Philly’s own Kurt Vile came on stage (introduced with an endearing “This is our friend…. It’s okay?”), sitting in on their atmospheric song “Tiwayyen”, a tune he guested on on the band’s new record Elwan.

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It’s springtime in Fishtown as The Decemberists hold court at The Fillmore

The Decemberists | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN
The Decemberists | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN

A packed crowd at The Fillmore stalked the stage, awaiting Colin Meloy and the rest of The Decemberists’ circus-like performance, full of tongue twisted lyrics and fantasy. Touring on their What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World LP from 2015, old fans were shouting for earlier favorites like “Red Right Ankle” and “The Chimbley Sweep.” After opening with a passionate “Crane Wife” parts 1, 2, and 3, everyone was at ease. Continue reading →

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John K. Samson remembers past and pets fondly at World Cafe Live

John K. Samson | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
John K. Samson | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

“We are a middle aged soft rock band from Canada.”

This is how John K. Samson christened himself and his Winter Wheat band on the downstairs stage at World Café Live this past Tuesday. It was a gently self-deprecating statement with that felt accurate in spite of itself. The band’s set was indeed filled with softness and warmth as it reminisced about recovery and relationships past, as well as Samson’s own musical legacy via several covers of his signature band The Weakerthans. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Maggie Rogers grooves her way into the hearts of pop fans with an electric performance

Maggie Rogers | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Alternative pop princess Maggie Rogers made a stop by World Cafe Live for an energized Free at Noon, taking time out of her sold-out tour of the great United States to pay one of her favorite stations a visit. Just like her sparkling blue kicks, her brand of singer-songwriting adds that ounce of shiny flair with a fantastic blend of folk harmonies paired with booming electronic instrumentation.

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Happiness Is Just A Moment: The Menzingers, in top form, share a night with The Fillmore

The Menzingers | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

“Did anybody here go to Temple?” Greg Barnett asked a packed house at The Fillmore last night, and befittingly, a large portion of the Philly crowd screamed. Barnett smirked, and continued “I’m sorry about that.”

In lesser hands, it could have been a diss, some jockish taunting to stoke whatever higher educational rivalries were seemingly in need of being stoked. But that’s not what the co-frontman of The Menzingers was doing here, as he introduced “Midwestern States” — a song he said was about his last semester at college — and the crowd knew it. They laughed loud at his quip, they cheered en masse.

They knew that these four dudes, despite being the center of attention for 2,500 spectators over the course of 90 minutes last night, was no different from them. Adrift in their late 20s and early 30s, feeling overlooked and tossed aside from self-absorbed older generations who won’t step out of the way, unsure of what they wasted their youth on, unsure of what their place was in this world that’s messier and less compassionate by the day.

This is one of the core themes of After the Party, The Menzingers’ excellent fifth LP — their most mature work, and their work most explicitly about maturing — and that restless discontent is the backbone of “Midwestern States.” Continue reading →

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Thursday on a Thursday: Post-hardcore faves turn it up for a crowd of rabid Philly fans

Thursday | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

How many people can say they’ve seen the beloved aughties post-hardcore band, Thursday, on a Thursday night? It’s not unheard of, but definitely a coveted gig, and now every single person who attended their show at The Fillmore in Philadelphia this Thursday night can add that accomplishment to their bucket list. Continue reading →

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Listen to Andrew Bird’s Mountain Stage performance from West Virginia

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

NPR’s Mountain Stage recently aired folk staple Andrew Bird’s gig in Charleston, West Virginia. His masterful instrumentation shines in this 30+ minute set, sporting his signature whistling and plucky energy to nail tracks from his 2016 Grammy-nominated record Are You Serious and beyond.

Bird is accompanied by fellow musicians Steven Elliott, Alan Hampton, Kevin O’Donnell on guitar, bass and drums (respectively) and The Flat Five’s Nora O’ Connor joins Bird on backup vocals.

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The man who makes the songs, and the songs that make the man: Two nights with The Magnetic Fields at Union Transfer

The Magnetic Fields at Union Transfer, night two | photo by K. Ross Hoffman for WXPN
The Magnetic Fields at Union Transfer, night two | photo by K. Ross Hoffman for WXPN

Stephin Merritt, the ingenious and wholly singular songwriter behind The Magnetic Fields, among other enterprises, calls himself “the least autobiographical person you are likely to meet.”  And yet, he has created his autobiography, of sorts, in 50 Song Memoir: the Fields’ latest, eleventh album as well as a two-part live performance (a concert, but also something slightly other than a concert) that was staged this past Wednesday and Thursday at Union Transfer.  The premise, or gimmick, is winningly simple and perfectly Merrittian: one song for each of the first fifty years of his life – bringing us from 1966 to 2015 – split evenly between the two nights.  The resulting experience was fascinating, complicated, revelatory – for fans, at least – and strangely human. Continue reading →