Battle of Who Has The Best Instruments: Cake, Ben Folds, and Tall Heights face off at The Mann

Cake | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN |

Last night, Ben Folds and Cake brought their double headlining tour to the Mann Center, the two alt-rock legends rocking the house with their idiosyncratic brands. One might be able to draw all sorts of comparisons and reasons as to why a co-headlining tour between these artists works so well, but I personally am willing to bet it began as a competition as to who could bring the best instruments. Folds’ lineup consisted of piano, of course, but also featuring opener Tall Heights as a backing band, who played on guitar, cello, cocktail drums, and adding a bass harmonica in lieu of an electric bass. Cake, not to be outdone, included an act of  bass, drums, and guitar, with trumpet, melodica, and vibraslap, among several other percussion instruments. The two iconic groups were matched in wit and in talent, and their use of audience participation almost hypnotic. Continue reading →


#XPNFest on Film: 35mm of scenes from our weekend on the Camden Waterfront

photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If you see me photographing a concert, you most likely will see me with one of WXPN’s digital cameras in hand. But depending on the gig, and depending on my mood, if you look closely you might spot something else; an old Pentax 35mm, or a Yashica twin-lens 120 camera. Or a Holga if I’m feeling particularly daring.

I went to school for photography when shooting on film was still the dominant thing — it was on its way out, for sure, but it was still being taught — and my initial outlook on how to shoot photos was shaped by the process of taking 24 or 36 frames and not knowing for anywhere from a few hours to a few days what any of them look like.

Lately, it’s been a fun way for me to document the music festivals I cover here at The Key — the sun-speckled Roots Picnic, or the earthy-toned Firefly Festival. Obviously I shoot digital in tandem, which allows me to gather as many images as I need and have as much control over all the parameters that go into those images; basically it guarantees me something serviceable (and immediate) for our web and social media coverage.

But there’s something to be said for surrendering much of that control to limitations and chance; taking photos as scenes unfold to you, to taking just one or two shots per scene (because you only have so much film), to refrain from getting caught up in fussy details and seeing what turns out. This year at the XPoNential Music Festival, I brought two cameras with me — a Ricoh SLR, an Argus rangefinder — and shot a roll of color film and a roll of black and white. Here’s what happened.
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Free At Noon Flashback: Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers remind us that our best days are still ahead of us

Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN |

Steel City native Joe Grushecky joined the Free At Noon crowd today to share some new songs off his latest release, More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows, and the seasoned rocker wowed the crowd with his charismatic new tunes and incredibly joyous Houserockers band. Continue reading →


Scenes from the Chill Moody Music Stage at this 4th of July’s Welcome America Festival

Hardwork Movement | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN |

Over a dozen local artists and DJs spent this 4th of July in a wooded grove along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as the first-ever Chill Moody Music Stage at the Wawa Welcome America Festival celebrated the sounds of Philadelphia. Below, check out an assortment of scenes from the event — including spaced-out composer Max Swan, charismatic rappers Boogieman DelaLuke O’Brien and Shawn Smith, hip-hop live band ensemble Hardwork Movement, and rock and roll powerhouse Foxtrot and the Get Down.
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Anthony Green’s Avalon tour reminds us that we’re all in the same spot

Anthony Green | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN |

On Saturday night, Anthony Green and his powerhouse of a band celebrated 10 years of Avalon at The TLA, along with Good Old War and new project Found Wild. For anyone who knows the closeness that Green, Keith Goodwin, Dan Schwartz, Tim Arnold, and Circa Survive member Brendan Ekstrom share, then you know that this tour is truly special. Though these guys frequently back Green on his solo ventures, Avalon is pivotal. It marks the beginning of an incredible decade of music and friendship that followed, and it showed onstage. Continue reading →


Dr. Dog officially kicks off summer at Festival Pier with (Sandy) Alex G.

Dr. Dog | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN |

There is an old proverb dating back to the year two thousand that goes something like “If Dr. Dog didn’t play a show, did summer ever really begin in Philadelphia?” And though it’s a rhetorical question, don’t doubt the power of a good doctor. Case in point – everything in my technological wheelhouse stated that we were due for a storm, probably a big one. Scott, Toby, Zach, Eric, and Frank had other plans, and the rain that was threatening to cancel their show never showed up. It’s a rare ability, and quite frankly impossible to prove, but there were nothing but believers in the house at Festival Pier on Saturday night. Continue reading →


Firefly On The Fly: Sunday sundown with Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Lord Huron, Kamasi Washington, Warren G and more

Kendrick Lamar | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

We rolled back into Philadelphia last night around 1 a.m., sweaty and exhausted from the final and hottest day of the 2018 Firefly Music Festival. It started with hip-hop — classic West Coast g-funk originator Warren G , whose signature jams “Regulate” and “Summertime in the LBC” played perfectly in the early afternoon — and ended with hip-hop — the Pulitzer Prize winning Kendrick Lamar, whose set was gripping and participatory, if a bit phoned-in (he twice told the crowd “This is my first time here in Delaware,” despite playing Firefly previously in 2013). Continue reading →


Listen Harder: U2 continues to challenge itself and its fans at Wells Fargo Center

U2 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Having witnessed every show U2 has put on within Philadelphia’s city limits (including its earliest, Bijou Café, excluding last year’s Joshua Tree anniversary), one had to resist easy comparison between gigs. Favorite-song-filled set lists or tours on the heels of albums preferred have weight, and there’s always a question of youth’s vigor: can the quartet who all but defined passion and consciousness at its start continue the journey with energy and originality? And could they do it without Bono overselling its point with hashtag shout outs, app plugs or societal rants that don’t come through the PA?

The answers regarding Wednesday’s U2 eXPERIENCE + iNNOCENCE Tour 2018 stop at Wells Fargo Center was, yes, and no. Continue reading →


Maggie Rogers shines at a sold out Union Transfer

Maggie Rogers | photo by Dylan Eddinger |

Maggie Rogers looked like a star Thursday night, headlining a sold out show at Union Transfer. And I mean literally. Decked out in a stellar jumpsuit/cape combo, covered in stars, eyes, hands, and flowers, she rocked the stage with her songs backed by a full band. Rogers kicked off her North America tour in Philly, playing through the entirety of her repertoire since her debut EP Now That The Light Is Fading was released last year on Capitol Records, as well as a few new songs from her upcoming full-length album. Continue reading →