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Kamasi Washington brings The Epic to life at World Cafe Live

Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese
Kamasi Washington | Photo by John Vettese

Saxophonist/composer Kamasi Washington brought an 8-piece version of the West Coast Get Down to World Café Live on Thursday as part of his first east coast excursion in support of his attention-grabbing debut The Epic. Even stripped of the orchestra and choir, his band lives up to that album title. Both roof-raising showmen and envelope-pushing adventurers, Washington and company delivered on the converging promises of George Clinton’s Afro-futurist funk and the boundary-obliterating jazz reinventions of late Coltrane and electric Miles. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Yo La Tengo brings Stuff Like That There to World Cafe Live

Yo La Tengo | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com
Yo La Tengo | Photo by Megan Lynch | meganlynchart.tumblr.com

Today is record release day for Yo La Tengo’s new collection of covers and re-workings, Stuff Like That There, and the Hoboken indie rock heroes celebrated with a performance in front of a sold-out Free at Noon crowd. The album explores the decidedly mellowest side of YLT’s sonic palette, but the crowd was hushed and attentive, nodding along to the doo-wop flavored cover of The Cosmic Rays’ “Somebody In Love” that opened the show, and singing along to Georgia Hubley’s wistful, breezy version of “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure. Continue reading →

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The Beta Hi-Fi class of 2015 packed in the talent at World Cafe Live

The finalists of Beta Hi Fi 2015 at World Cafe Live | Photos by John Vettese
The finalists of Beta Hi Fi 2015 at World Cafe Live | Photos by John Vettese

I’ve been a judge on World Cafe Live’s annual Beta Hi-Fi competition for several years now, and it’s always a treat to meet the Philly artists that come up through its ranks – past winners have included Commonwealth Choir and The Districts. Last night, the finals of Beta Hi-Fi 2015 were held, and the talent was at a higher level than ever before. Continue reading →

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Everybody Hits, and Everyone Everywhere hit it out of the park

Everyone Everywhere | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Everyone Everywhere | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Falling in love with bands that fall off the earth is something I do well.

When I first heard of Everyone Everywhere, it was mid-2013, and the band had just released their second self-titled the previous summer. I was in college far away from Philadelphia, so the chances of seeing them were slim to none. And just as I came home, they had pretty much vanished from the earth. It was like in dream in which I was visited by the most beautiful music, only to wake up the next day and remember nothing.

I’ve realized that the band did in fact play a few shows in 2013, but I was just beginning to dive into the Philly scene – and yeah, I missed my chance. Many times. But not this time around. Continue reading →

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Failure and Hum keep the 90s torch burning bright at the Electric Factory

Failure | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com
Failure | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com

I don’t wanna be accused of hyperbole here, but the 90’s may have been the greatest decade for music in the history of time (yes,  including the 60’s).  John Vettese is doing a swell job of proving that with his show What’s The Frequency??? #WTFXPN (full disclosure: he’s my editor).  What could be a more wonderful way to celebrate the 90’s than on ‘Frequency’ Friday with a pair of woefully underplayed acts of the 90’s?

Failure began as so many behemoths did, with Steve Albini behind the boards.  Some touring with Tool and they should have been next up roster after Soundgarden.  Twas not to be, and they reached the status of popular bands that never quite broke through the surface (see Far and Quicksand).  Hum was a one hit wonder (if you let the charts tell you what a hit is) and much more expansive than that title implies.  More dynamic and dirty than their contemporaries, with a tendency to drone on a bit, and make the unpolished feel polished. Continue reading →

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Stevie Wonder packed Dilworth Park to give back to Philly fans

Stevie Wonder pop up show at Dilworth Park, Philadelphia.  Photo by: Simon Klein / WXPN
Stevie Wonder performs a pop up show at Dilworth Park, Philadelphia | Photo by Simon Klein

Playing the second leg of his marathon three-show day across the northeast, Stevie Wonder packed Dilworth Park in the center of Philadelphia for a short performance and Q&A. Devoted to giving back to the fans that love him, and speaking out about current events, Stevie performed free shows in both DC and Philly (he is now en route New York for a final stop tonight).  Stevie played through a few songs from his magnum opus Songs in the Key of Life and had people packed in the park, with some people even leaning out of windows in nearby City Hall to get a view. Continue reading →

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A good night for punk in its many forms: LVL UP, Palehound, and more at Union Transfer

LVL Up | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
LVL Up | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Friday night’s bill at Union Transfer offered attendees a variety of punk acts, each with a distinct flavor.

The show began with Boston’s Palehound, who were celebrating their record release of debut full-length Dry Food. Singer Ellen Kempner brought a quiet energy with her band’s captivating brand of bedroom rock, playing tracks from Dry Food and 2013 EP Bent Nail. It was also encouraging to hear Kempner end her set by assuring audience members to come find her during the show if they felt at all uncomfortable with anyone’s behavior. Nice to see an artist making conscious efforts to keep the show as safe a space as possible. Continue reading →