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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 →

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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 →

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Maggie Rogers shines at a sold out Union Transfer

Maggie Rogers | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

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 →

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NonCOMM Recap: Editors use sheer energy to keep the crowd on its feet in the final stretch

Editors | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

By day four of NonCOMM, it’s not surprising that some of the crowd was beginning to feel a little weary. Some were already on planes or trains, heading back to their everyday lives, but plenty others stuck around, coffees and/or beers in hand, to catch the final two acts of this year’s convention.

After a perfect warmup set by Belly, British rockers Editors had the honor of closing out the party on the NPR Music stage. And party they did. Before the band came onstage, I overheard someone behind me in the audience say “Are you ready to rock?” I thought to myself, “Haven’t we been rocking all week?” But Editors, with their charismatic charm and songs that filled the room to the brim, seemed to almost redefine what it means to rock. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Belly keeps the crowd superconnected with old faves and new jams

Belly | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

On the surface, you could say that NonCOMM 2018 closed with a doubleheader Free At Noon concert from two different eras of nostalgia acts — one from the 90s (Belly) and one from the aughts (Editors). Thing is, though, both of these artists came with fresh material in tow, and Belly’s set in particular showed that they are musicians who have not missed a beat in the 23 years since their sophomore album King and this year’s radiant return Dove. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Angelique Kidjo returns Remain In Light to its roots

Angelique Kidjo | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Angelique Kidjo first heard the Talking Heads’ album Remain In Light after moving from her home country of Benin to Paris in 1983. The record, made a few years prior in collaboration with producer Brian Eno, found David Byrne and the band wholly embracing the sounds and styles of West African music, with Nigeria’s Fela Kuti being a major inspiration. But the Talking Heads’ idiosyncratic downtown NYC cool was still very much in the mix. As Kidjo recalled of her first experience with the record, “This is African, yet it’s got something that is turning my head upside down.”

Last year, the dynamic singer, songwriter and performer Kidjo began performing the album live in concert at venues like Carnegie Hall, putting her own spin on the Byrne-Eno spin on Afrobeat. The project was so well received, she recorded her own front-to-back version of the album, which is out June 8th on Kravenworks records. And on Thursday night, Kidjo and her four-piece band played many of the record’s songs in a lively close to night three of NonCOMM. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM recap: The Wood Brothers shake the ground for night three

The Wood Brothers | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Nashville natives The Wood Brothers played an epic folk set to open the downstairs stage of NonCOMM’s night three. This folk powerhouse has just released their sixth studio album, One Drop of Truth, and plans on returning to Philadelphia on August 28th to play at Longwood Gardens.

This band is, in my opinion, the most unique group that has taken the NonCOMM stage, and after watching them jam for thirty minutes, they might be my favorite group of the whole fest. Night three is only just getting started, but they’re going to be a tough act to beat. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Jeff Rosenstock delivers politically charged, high energy set

Jeff Rosenstock | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Long Island rocker Jeff Rosenstock took the stage upstairs with a crazy amount of energy and a set of songs from his most recent solo release, POST-, which came out in January on Polyvinyl. In what seems like typical Rosenstock fashion, he arrived with just enough time to spare to start his set. Immediately after the band’s warmup, he addressed the eager crowd with: “This goes out to anyone listening who feels disgusted to live in a country that no longer represents you unless you are rich, white, or male. Thanks,” before jumping into “USA.”

Rosenstock is a blast to watch. He is messy. He is loud. He is pretty much insane. His lyrics are so weirdly on point, his guitar is heavy and fast and constant. The crowd absolutely loved every second of this set. He might have started the first ever NonCOMM mosh pit! Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Ricky Hell & The Voidboys jam econo on the PRX stage

Ricky Hell and the Voidboys | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Indoor sunglasses on a rainy day. Leather and leopard print. Screeching clarinet. These are just a few of the things Ricky Hell & The Voidboys brought to the stage tonight to kick off night 2 of NonCOMM.

As it turned out, that was exactly what was needed to lift the crowd’s spirits after the hours-long lull following today’s Free at Noon sets. The band’s name may be a riff on 70’s punk legends Richard Hell & The Voidoids, but Ricky and crew are shaping up to be pretty iconic in their own right. Though they formed just last year, the Cleveland band has already perfected their brand of high-powered, offbeat, energetic “gutter pop.”

Ricky Hell & The Voidboys released a self-titled album in March, and they brought several of its 13 short, punchy songs to World Cafe Life tonight for what may be the only set in NonCOMM history to run under schedule. Continue reading →