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Nicole Atkins played an intimate, festive show at World Cafe Live

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Nicole Atkins | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography

XPN favorite Nicole Atkins headlined World Cafe Live on Thursday night. Touring in support of her 2014 LP Slow Phaser, Atkins performed a mix of new songs and favorites from Mondo Amore (2011) and Neptune City (2007). As the crowd excitedly awaited her entrance on stage, she surprised everyone by coming onto the floor and introducing herself in the midst of the crowd. Barefoot and dressed in a flowing white gown, she opened up the show singing a stripped down, acoustic version of “Neptune City” while completely surrounded by the audience. Once she stepped on stage, she delivered an energetic, heartfelt performance. With only a two-piece backing band, Atkins’ powerful and soulful vocals perfectly soared over the drums and guitar creating a full, rich sound. Continue reading →

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All Grown Up: Modern Baseball comes of age at the TLA

photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

Well, they finally went and did the damn thing. Modern Baseball sold out. Sold out The TLA, that is. On Thursday night, the loveable West Philly punks headlined an absolutely stacked lineup of bands and defended pop punk, hard. The evening was marked with smiles, tears and even some special guests, and the homeboys clearly enjoyed working their largest hometown crowd to date.

The evening kicked off with several quick sets from four up-and-coming bands who share the scene with Modern Baseball, and know how to rock the stage almost as well. First up was Boston’s Somos, whipping through a quick set of tunes from their debut LP Temple of Plenty. While their set was solid, it also didn’t have much in the way of memorable moments, and was quickly overshadowed—for me, at least—by the bands who followed them up on the bill. Continue reading →

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Marian Hill turns up the heat at Boot and Saddle

Marian Hill | Photo by Matthew Shaver | matthewshaverphoto.com
Marian Hill | Photo by Matthew Shaver | matthewshaverphoto.com

Nothing brightens up a dreary day like a nice surprise. So, thank you Marian Hill for surprising the hell out of me. I listened to your EP online and I dug the sound. I love the minimal electro vibe, and the silky smooth, often soulfully sweet vocals. I was pretty excited for the show at Boot And Saddle, and was hopeful that the sound would transfer well over to a live set. I wanted to thank you for blowing those expectations out of the water. Continue reading →

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Beautiful truths with Over the Rhine at Underground Arts

Over the Rhine | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Over the Rhine | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Last Saturday’s cold and wet attitude could not prevent the warmth and beauty of Over the Rhine from overtaking Underground Arts. Husband and wife duo of Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler let their folk rock wrap the seated audience in the wealth of their 23-year musical history. With their newest holiday-themed release Blood Oranges in the Snow as a backdrop, they delivered their take on “reality” Christmas. And with some cuts from other works, including their masterful 2013 double album Meet Me at the Edge of the World, it would be tough to disappoint anyone in the rapt crowd. Though a seemingly odd venue for such a band, Underground Arts ended up being quite a fine setting for Over the Rhine’s beautiful truths. Continue reading →

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Work Drugs and Vita and the Woolf bring holiday cheer to Boot and Saddle

Work Drugs | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Work Drugs | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Last Friday, seasonal cheer arrived at Boot & Saddle early in the form of Work Drugs’ annual “Christmas Spectacle” show. Their brand of electro rock was just right for a Friday night boogie in South Philly. Santa hats, Christmas songs old and new (including a few of their own concoctions) and a balanced mix of guitar, keyboards and harmonies were received with open arms. Continue reading →

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Rivers and Roads: The Head and The Heart at the Tower

The Head and The Heart
The Head and The Heart | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

“Summer’s gone, now winter’s on it’s way,” cooed Josiah Johnson, lead singer of The Head and the Heart. “I will miss those days we had.” Friday night was rainy and cold, far removed from the days of summertime. Making the chilly trip out to Upper Darby to see Johnson’s Americana-storytelling folksters at the Tower was a great reminder that winter is indeed right around the corner, just like the lyrics of “Winter Song” mournfully recall. Continue reading →

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Hometown Heroes: Strand of Oaks hug it out, HEAL it up at Union Transfer

photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

“You know, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time,” frontman-of-Oaks Tim Showalter said, “and for a while I was playing to like three people at shows—like you three… But now? All you people, in this place… incredible.” Showalter was clearly moved to see the massive turnout for their largest hometown set and largest headlining set to date.

After releasing one of 2014’s most quietly celebrated albums, Philly’s loneristic folk-rockers Strand of Oaks arrived back at home on Wednesday night after six solid months of touring. But that was all “just practice” for the main event. Hitting the stage to the sound of the Boss’ “Born in the USA,” it’s impossible to miss how important having a strong community presence is to them. Showalter’s unbridled giddiness to be playing the show belied the sheer unchecked slay of the evening—Oaks doesn’t fuck around when it comes to their music. Continue reading →

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Pop’s Not Dead: Bleachers blow up Union Transfer on Thanksgiving Eve

photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

“POP’S NOT DEAD.” You’ve probably seen spray paint stencils boldly proclaiming this sentiment around our city, recently. Some days I kinda wish it were dead, though. If you know me, or have read my articles, you probably know that I’m not too excited about the Top 40 / pop music scene. But after a few recent experiences, I’m starting to come around. Experiencing Bleachers blow up Union Transfer on Thanksgiving Eve was one of those events which give me hope for pop. Continue reading →