Watch the Beastie Boys bring Hello Nasty to the CoreStates Center in August of 1998

Beastie Boys at the First Union Center | still from video

NYC rhymesayers Beastie Boys were at a point of reinvention when they came to Philadelphia on August 20, 1998. They had a solid decade under their belts as a hip-hop combo — longer as a punk band — and with their fifth LP, Hello Nasty, they were pushing things further still. Out was the psychedelic groove and contemplative flow that defined their previous two albums, the iconic Ill Communication and Check Your Head; in was a retro-futuristic clubby sound, based around turntablist big beats and cartoonish sound bites, with no shortage of contagious energy.

For the live show, out were longtime collaborators DJ Hurricane and percussionist Mark Bobo, in was Mix Master Mike on the 1s and 2s, Alfredo Ortiz on the drums, and an expanded role for keyboardist “Money Mark” Nishita. On the band were coordinated red jump suits, while the band was on a slowly rotating stage as they performed in the round in the center of the CoreStates Center (the name the Wells Fargo Center went by at the time). Continue reading →


XPN MusicNotes: Watch Chris Stapleton’s heartfelt tribute to Aretha Franklin

Chris Stapleton | photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin | via Orange County Register

“I would never presume to sing an Aretha Franklin song but in tribute to her tonight, I’ll give it my best shot. She is the greatest singer that ever lived” -Chris Stapleton

Calling her the “greatest singer who ever lived,” Chris Stapleton paid tribute to the late, great Aretha Franklin Saturday night at the Forum in Los Angeles, performing a cover of the Queen of Soul’s “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man.”  Continue reading →


Watch The Districts’ full set from Best Kept Secret festival

The Districts | Photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

Hometown rockers The Districts found themselves in Europe earlier this summer, traveling from England to Denmark in June, with stops in Germany, Belgium, Norway, and the Netherlands along the way. It was on June 8th in the Netherlands The Districts performed at Best Kept Secret festival. Thanks to the festival, their full set is now up on YouTube to stream.

During their set, the band played five songs off their 2017 LP, Popular Manipulations, which recently celebrated its first birthday on August 11th. According to an Instagram post from the band, the boys are back in the studio gearing up for their fourth LP. While their Best Kept Secret set didn’t contain any new songs, be on the lookout for new material teased out by the band in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future. The band closed out their set with a career-spanning best-of run, from 2012’s “Funeral Beds” into 2018’s “Nighttime Girls,” and finally ripping through set-closing staple “Young Blood,” in all of its glorious 10 minutes. Continue reading →


Philly graffiti legend Cornbread will speak at an AAMP screening of Wall Writers documentary

Cornbread in 1971 | Philadelphia Inquirer photo via

“To….protect my area, my turf. Right here, where I live…”

In a scene from Jungle, the unheralded 1969 documentary film on street gangs in North Philadelphia, a young man is asked why he gang wars (note: the phrase “gang war” was essentially used as a compound verb in Philly and some oldheads still use it as such), and this sentiment is repeated by his comrades all members of the Oxford Street gang. The young men shyly recount their experiences in the gang while stray tags pepper the bright, white wall behind them. Throughout the 60s and 70s, thousands of Philadelphia youth were thought to be involved in gangs. Marred by fights and stabbings, the city’s gang culture was simultaneously vicious and creatively rich, as evidenced by scenes in Jungle were members of the 12th & Oxford gang can be seen strolling on the block performing a call and response rhyme routine that prefigures rap and hip-hop as we would later know it. In 1971, a young man named Cornelius Hosey was killed in a gang-related altercation and the local news wrongfully identified the victim as North Philly graffiti writer Cornbread. Catalyzed by this mix up, the real Cornbread (born Darryl McCray) went on an ambitious tear throughout the city, throwing his tag up on every clean surface he could find, determined to reclaim space and prove that he was in fact, very much alive. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Porter & Sayles

Christian Porter and Regina Sayles have been friends and musical collaborators for over a decade, and two summers ago, the Stroudsburg singer-songwriter duo released their debut album of songs that straddle the worlds of poppy folk and contemporary country. They’re a little bit Civil Wars, a little bit Lady Antebellum, and their self-titled record caught the ear of XPN midday host Helen Leicht, who connected with the moving contemplation of “This Guitar,” a yearning ballad about balancing the conflicting passions of one’s music and one’s relationships.

This summer, Porter & Sayles returns with its latest single since that record, following up on the spring release “#IAmOne.” It’s a revved up country ripper and unofficial Pocono Speedway anthem “Buckled Up In Drive,” which the duo played acoustically for us during their Key Studio Session. In the set, you’ll also hear “Country,” which reflects on the universality of their preferred form of American music — even for folks who don’t come from down south — as well as “You Had Me From Hello,” a jangling pop tune about first impressions. Continue reading →


Brooklyn MC Junglepussy brings bars and poses to “All of You” video, brings JP3 to The Foundry

Junglepussy | photo by Vivian Luxx

From Queen Latifah and Missy Elliot all the way up to Nicky Minaj, females emecces have been around for decades, grinding and trying to breaking through the male dominated rap industry. In recent years, we have seen a huge wave of badass women making moves, up and coming artists including like the infamous Cardi B and Philly’s own Tierra Whack. Now, we got Brooklyn native Jugglepussy coming into the spotlight. Continue reading →


Big Lizard In Clark Park: Watch The Dead Milkmen play outdoors in West Philly in August of 1993

The Dead Milkmen in Clark Park | still from video

As somebody who enthusiastically subscribes to the “West Philly / Best Philly” mantra, there is so much to love about this vintage video of Philadelphia icons The Dead Milkmen headlining an outdoor show in Clark Park. The verdant greenery from all angles, the audience watching from the slope of the dog bowl, the grizzly folks packing the front row with handicams and enthusiastic energy.

The video was shot on VHS way back on August 7th, 1993. The gig also featured a set from neighborhood oddballs EDO — “everybody loves EDO,” says the MC introducing the band — and features the Milkmen in classic irreverent form, punctuated by a long-haired, ponytailed, goatee’d Rodney Anonymous pacing the stage franticly, spitting into the mic, rocking a cutoff Butthole Surfers t-shirt. Continue reading →


Joey Sweeney holds on to the past with an ode to memories, “Polaroids on the Floor”

Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease | courtesy of the artist

Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease have dropped yet another single off upcoming album Catholic School, out September 7th. “Polaroids on the Floor” is laced with 80’s nostalgia, a bouncing tune with choppy keyboards and threaded with saxophone solos reminiscent of anything from Springsteen to early ska. Continue reading →


Circa Survive will bring La Dispute and Queen of Jeans on tour this fall

Circa Survive | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |

Philly alt rock staples Circa Survive are hitting the road again this October in support of their 2017 release, The Amulet. The last time we caught them was at the Electric Factory in November with Thrice, so we haven’t had to wait long for a return. Circa just recently wrapped up an Australian/Pacific Coast tour earlier this summer, and frontman Anthony Green just ended his Avalon 10 Year Anniversary tour earlier this week. No rest for these guys, as they’re already ready to get back on the road again for most of this fall.

Though it’s been almost a year since Circa has put out any new releases, the individual band members have done anything but relax. Green released his newest solo album, Would You Still Be In Love, at the beginning of June, and was joined by Circa Survive’s Brendan Ekstrom on the Avalon Tour. Continue reading →


Mac Miller delivers first live performance of Swimming at NPR Music’s Tiny Desk

Mac Miller | photo by Elsah Attar for NPR

Pittsburgh MC Mac Miller just dropped Swimming, his fifth studio release, on Friday, and fans have gotten their first glimpse of a live rendition before he takes the Swimming Tour on the road thanks to NPR’s Tiny Desk.

Miller, who hasn’t released anything since The Divine Feminine in 2016, is quickly taking the hip hop world by storm after re-emerging into the scene with almost no notice. After quickly announcing singles just a few weeks before the LP’s due date, fans shifted their attention away from Miller’s personal life and whirlwind breakup from singer Ariana Grande and refocused on why they loved him to begin with: he’s an artist, and Swimming is brilliant show of his skill. Continue reading →