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Danced Out and Super Satisfied: The Ting Tings at Union Transfer

The Ting Tings | Photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com
The Ting Tings | Photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com

Rocking a wild pony tail and a t-shirt that read “Good Vibes”, The Ting Tings‘ frontwoman Katie White really brought serious energy (and, as advertised, good vibes) to Union Transfer on Friday night. The British duo commanded the crowd with disco tinged tunes and electro-pop anthems, making sure to perform songs from all three of their albums in their short but sweet 65-minute set. Continue reading →

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A bunch of old dudes rocked Philly last night. You may have heard of them; they’re called The Sonics

The Sonics | Photo by Tom Beck
The Sonics | Photo by Tom Beck

Here’s what you need to know about The Sonics: The band is a highly influential garage rock band from the 1960s, who laid the roots for many punk and garage rock bands after them. Without The Sonics, there would no Clash, no Hives, no Ramones, no Strokes and no Nirvana. And despite their high energy, catchy, havoc-wreaking shows, the band never quite made it uber-famous. A few years ago, The Sonics, who are now all in their 70s, burst out of retirement and took their instruments with them, releasing and album, going on a world tour, and taking no prisoners. Last night, the tour finally stopped in Philly at packed TLA house. Continue reading →

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From ballads to rock, Paula Cole showcases variety at World Cafe Live

Paula Cole | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com
Paula Cole | Photo by Chris Sikich | sikichphotography.com

About half way through Paula Cole’s set at World Café Live on Friday, she arose from her piano to move to the middle of the stage. An audience member loudly exclaimed, “oh there your are,” since she had been hidden behind her piano up until that point. Cole unapologetically retorted that she needed to play a real piano and not a keyboard because of its sound quality and that she is just a frustrated drummer at heart. This directness mirrors her music, which gloriously varied between ballads and rock for the 15-song set. Continue reading →

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Public Service Broadcasting brought their imaginative Space Race to Philly

Public Service Broadcasting | Photo by John Vettese
Public Service Broadcasting | Photo by John Vettese

When J. Wilgoose Esquire and Wrigglesworth of Public Service Broadcasting took to the stage at World Cafe Live last night, I wasn’t sure how their live act would translate from their recorded work. For those not familiar, the London duo plays music around samples of old documentary footage provided by the British Film Institute. This probably works very well in an alternative venue or gallery setting where everyone is watching intently but upstairs at World Cafe Live, given that many are eating meals and hanging at the bar, I didn’t know if full attention would be given to the show. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Turbo Fruits show off No Control at World Cafe Live

Turbo Fruits | Photo by Rocco Peditto | roccopeditto.com
Turbo Fruits | Photo by Rocco Peditto | roccopeditto.com

Nashville garage rockers Turbo Fruits took the stage today following an electric set from The London Souls. The four-piece showed Philly what they were made of with their catchy rock ballads. Guitarist Kingsley Brock whipped out some fun, distorted riffs while frontman Jonas Stein’s grumbling vocals filled the room. The group played tracks exclusively off of their upcoming LP, No Control, set to be released April 20th. Songs like “The Way I Want You” and “Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again” put the group’s solid sound on full display and had the crowd movin’ and groovin’, closing out today’s Free At Noon with finesse. Continue reading →

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Illumination: Sufjan Stevens at Academy of Music

Sufjan Stevens | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Sufjan Stevens | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

Have you ever seen truth so real that it physically hurts? A burning brand, slowly pressing into your chest, purifying the cavern of your existence? I have—and truth came Thursday night, not with angel wings or capes or neon halos, but in denim jacket and trucker cap, meekly strumming an acoustic guitar. The first time I saw Sufjan Stevens—years ago—it broke something within me. Something I don’t want fixed. And I think that brokenness allows truth in, even though it’s bitterly painful. Thursday night at the Academy of Music, I embraced the truth and pain and beauty of Sufjan Steven’s life and career. Continue reading →

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Ivy Trippin’: Learning life lessons from Waxahatchee at Union Transfer

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

There’s something extremely powerful in surrender. Something about finding oneself in the losing of self. There’s a track on the new Waxahatchee record called “<” where Kate Crutchfield just repeats “you’re less than me. I am nothing.” Anger and rage and force have their moments and places, but in having the restraint to put that all aside there’s a strength that few find. Reductionism can destroys enemies without ever having to raise a hand. At the Ivy Tripp record release show at Union Transfer on Wednesday night, the crowd sat in silence at the feet of Master Crutchfield. Continue reading →

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A Study In Contrast: Damien Rice goes from a whisper to a scream in his long-awaited return to Philly

Damien Rice | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com
Damien Rice | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com

It’s been 7 years and 10 months and two weeks since Damien Rice last played Philadelphia. It’s taken him that long to release only his third album, My Favorite Faded Fantasy. The gorgeous Academy of Music was the perfect venue to host his return, reasonably large but still somehow intimate.

Rice is a study in contrast and dynamic range – emotional, audial and visual. He goes from a whisper to a scream, pure black to blinding sunlight and intimacy to fury in a click. Another thing about Rice is that no two concerts are ever the same. Each night brings a different set list, a different take on most of the songs. Where a track might be acoustic and off-mic one night, it might be a thunderous fuzz of ranting and feedback the next. A well-timed request can send everything in an entirely unexpected direction. Continue reading →

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The Decemberists bring pageantry and passion to the Academy of Music

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

A gust of drums and a deluge of syllables packaged in an ever-expanding novella of a song. These were my feelings when I first heard The Decemberists’ “The Infanta” back in 2005. The opening track to Picaresque, the song, the album and the band all resurrected my love for music. And to hear this song performed by the 2015 incarnation of the Portland, Oregon-based indie eccentrics this past Tuesday at the Academy of Music was as exhilarating as it was the first time on CD. Before a sell-out crowd the Colin Meloy-led quintet were as captivating as ever. Continue reading →