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The Polyphonic Spree brings euphoric spectacle to The Prince

The Polyphonic Spree | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
The Polyphonic Spree | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

You never know what you are going to get when you attend a Polyphonic Spree show. Part concert, part spectacle, a stage filled with close to 20 musicians is not something you are likely to see again. They have been known to play Rocky Horror straight through, bust out unexpected covers, and completely fill a venue with fake snow for Christmas performances. You may remember their big hit Light and Day, with its euphoric “Follow the day and reach for the sun” chorus that was made popular in the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Continue reading →

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Wave Radio, RFA take top honors at Beta Hi-Fi Philly

Wave Radio performing at Wave Radio, RFA take top prizes at Beta Hi-Fi Philly
Wave Radio | Photo by John Vettese

For the ninth year running, World Cafe Live in Philly hosted its annual Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival last week, with top honors going to cinematic indie trio Wave Radio and garage rock four-piece RFA in last night’s finals.

As I do every year, last night I sat on the judges’ panel of the final round, alongside Jennifer Logue of Rock On Philly and Christianna LaBuz of World Cafe Live at The Queen. It’s always a great way to take in a cross section of up-and-coming musicians from our region. Last night we got quite the range, from haunting Australia-born singer-songwriter Elspeth Tremblay, the funky and charismatic Nalani & Sarina, the country-infused Allie Carroll and the poppy Valerie Broussard. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Selwyn Birchwood electrifies his last Philly stop

Selwyn Birchwood at WXPN's Free at Noon Concert. 8/22/14 | Photo credit: Rich McKie
Selwyn Birchwood at WXPN’s Free at Noon Concert. 8/22/14 | Photo credit: Rich McKie

Florida blues man Selwyn Birchwood and his crew are in the midst of the tour for their album Don’t Call No Ambulance, released in June on Alligator Records. Birchwood and the band held nothing back in their Free At Noon show this afternoon; after playing the Sellersville Theater last night, the musicians’ fresh energy during this performance brought to life the deep blues sound that saturates the album. Continue reading →

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Twang and Rock in Rittenhouse: Katie Frank, Divers, DJ Lisa Love play Philly Weekly’s Concerts in the Park

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

On Wednesday night Rittenhouse Square played host to the first of two Concerts in the Park sponsored by Philadelphia Weekly. The 24th year of this concert series kicked off with three woman-fronted acts: DJ Lisa Love, Folk Fest-bound band Katie Frank & The Pheremones and Divers. It was a diverse mix of musical interests on display, from the Americana and roots of Frank to the indie rock of Divers, with some classic hip-hop thrown in from Love. Continue reading →

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Agnes Obel performed a stunning set at World Cafe Live

Agnes Obel | photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Agnes Obel | photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Danish singer-songwriter and pianist Agnes Obel played a mesmerizing set at World Cafe Live on Tuesday night. Returning to the US for part of her global tour in support of her sophomore LP, Aventine (2013), Obel primarily performed songs from that record, as well as a few selections from her debut release Philharmonics (2010).

Continue reading →

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The Rosebuds played a vibrant set to a packed Boot and Saddle

The Rosebuds | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
The Rosebuds | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

We all have bands we love that we wish would make it big. Among mine are The Rosebuds. They certainly have found success, as Merge signed them back in 2003 and they have worked with big-name collaborators like Justin Vernon. The well-attended Boot & Saddle show on Thursday night showed a demand for their indie-pop aesthetics. But at the end of the day they should at the very least entertain a full house at Union Transfer. Why? Harmonies, percussion, keys and strings floating between early ‘60s rock, Hall and Oates and the dance floor make them a unique, creative force that exists in a class of its own.

Ivan Howard, with his newsboy cap and rich vocals, and Kelly Crisp, front-and-center on keyboards with sweet harmonies at the ready, were a joy to watch. The one-time married couple are completely in-synch musically, leading The Rosebuds current line-up. Among the mix were drummer Rob Lackey, guitarist Brian Weeks and bassist and back-up vocalist Mark Paulson. Continue reading →

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John Legend headlined The Mann Center in peak form

John Legend | Photo by Cameron Pollack
John Legend | Photo by Cameron Pollack

There is not a shred of doubt in my mind: John Legend, formerly John Stephens, is 100% deserving of the name he now calls his own. His career now spans fifteen years, five of which have been unsigned. His climb to a record deal featured collaborations with Lauryn Hill on her track “Everything Is Everything” during college, backing vocals on Alicia Keys’ “You Don’t Know My Name” in 2003, and an eventual meet-up and collaboration with Kanye West throughout the early 2000’s. His career has never stopped climbing since, churning out Grammy award winning, chart-topping tunes with every album release.

Legend’s “homecoming” show to The Mann on Saturday showcased Legend at the peak of his popularity and his songwriting ability. Continue reading →

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Lera Lynn and The Wallace Brothers Band bring Eagleview two sides of Americana

Lera Lynn | Photo by  Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Lera Lynn | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

On Tuesday a sublime summer night was the backdrop in Eagleview Town Center in Exton, PA for a double-header free concert of Lera Lynn and The Wallace Brothers Band. Both artists pulled from the roots music / singer-songwriter tradition, but with two distinctive takes on it.

First up was the alt-country Lynn. Touring behind her new release of The Avenues, Lynn and guitarist/producer Joshua Grange stung the night with notes of rock and Americana. Continue reading →

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The Early November kicked off two nights of sold-out acoustic shows at World Cafe Live

The Early November | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com
The Early November | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com

The Early November embarked on a three-week intimate acoustic tour this summer and are closing out the tour in Philly with two nights at World Cafe Live. It’s a sort of a homecoming for the Hammonton, NJ pop punk icons, and frontman Ace Enders and his bandmates got an incredibly warm reception from the sold-out crowd at last night’s kick off show. In return they played a set that was career-spanning and memorable.

Last night’s show began at 8:00 sharp with a solo performance by Young Statues frontman Carmen Cirignano. He played a few old songs as well as new songs off of a record that will be released this fall. Continue reading →