“Ah, some positive heckling,” was Phoebe Bridgers‘ very on-brand reply to someone’s awed remark of “You can SING!” during a quiet moment in her River Stage set this afternoon. But the heckler wasn’t wrong — Phoebe Bridgers can certainly sing, and her voice carries each of her songs from the softest of whispers to the most powerful of belts. Continue reading →
Just two weeks before Phoebe Bridgers takes the stage for XPNFest 2018, she has released a cover of Manchester Orchestra’s “The Gold.” It’s not a surprising take on the song, given both Bridger’s and MO’s tendency to buck genre constraints, and the similarities between Bridger’s and Andy Hull’s inflections. The cover resists slowing down the tempo, and instead re-adapts the song into Bridgers’ style, her guitar backed by a lush environment of electronic sounds and distant percussion. Continue reading →
Watching Phoebe Bridgers‘ set today was the most delightful form of deva vu. Having the pleasure of seeing her at this exact stage just a few months back, I actually forgot for one moment that I was at NonCOMM. This was not just a set in the schedule of many, it was a Phoebe Bridgers concert.
Though the hustle and bustle of the exciting NonCOMM festivities can sometimes set an overcast of foreboding hurriedness, Bridgers and crew were not the least bit affected. With the clock ticking away on the tight thirty minute schedule, time seemed to slow down as Bridgers allowed the songs to be what they are: slow and building, weary and atmospheric, sad folk ballads. Continue reading →
Prepare yourselves, because there’s an incredibly good show coming our way this fall. So good that it may take a moment or two to process that it is actually happening. It hasn’t been too, too long since we’ve seen The Nationalin town(those who were lucky enough to score tickets, that is) — the band played to a very sold-out Kimmel Center in December, and performed their new album Sleep Well Beast to an even more sold-out Union Transfer last September for NPR Music’s First Listen Live.
This September, The National is coming back to Philly — not to either of the previously mentioned venues, but to the Mann Center. And if that’s not reason enough to get excited, the opening acts will be Cat Power and Phoebe Bridgers. What?! How does a lineup like this even come together? Maybe it’s best not to ask questions, but just mark our calendars and thank whatever cosmic forces made this happen. Continue reading →
The Wiggins Park lineup of the 2018 XPoNential Music Festival was rolled out today, and it will bring veteran singer-songwriter Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band to the Camden Waterfront this July, along with country breakout Margo Price, the Nashville trio Bermuda Triangle (featuring Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Becca Mancari and Jesse Lafser) and returning festival favorites The Lone Bellow. Continue reading →
A country song began to play. Like the very commodified, mainstream country radio kind of song. The kind of breezy, late summer day, wind-blowing-through-your-hair-as-you-drive-your-pickup-truck kind of country song.
I heard the phrase “parked out by the lake” more than a few times, but didn’t think much of the glossy genre’s fairly standard fare. The question of why Phoebe Bridgers chose this track in particular to walk onto stage to though — that nagged at my noggin. I mean, there are so many options, Pheebs. Poised at the mic, she even began to sing along a bit. Well, dang, I thought; attributing definite deeper layers I just didn’t pick up on as the reasoning. I mean, it must be a meaningful tune for such a prolific songwriter to single out.
Ha. What I learned later is that the song in question — the very aptly-titled “Parked Out by the Lake” — is actually a parody. “I’m parked out by the lake,” the very real and actual bluegrass / gospel artist, Dustin Christensen, begins in that perfectly gritty and melodic rasp, as his very not real alter-ego, Dean Summerwind. “Eighty miles from Sante Fe,”he continues. “And I’m sitting here just parked out by the lake. If you’re wondering where I parked, I’m out parked by the lake. It’s the lake that’s eighty miles from Sante Fe.”
A wave of relief washed over me. Perfection. Semi-akin to Bo Burnham’s iconic parody, “Pandering,” the song is a joke. And it’s exactly this kind of wry and multi-dimensional, mildly cynical but completely truthful melding that so perfectly encapsulates both of the artists who graced the stage at World Cafe Live this past Wednesday. Continue reading →
Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.
Happy 2018! The year’s off to a great start, musically speaking, with much to look forward to on the horizon (including some heavy-hitters poised to return – The Breeders, David Byrne, Superchunk and Jack White among them) and a surprising number of strong releases already out in the world, a mere two weeks into the year. Plus the local concert calendar is already heating up, possibly more than any January I can remember. Let’s take a look at some of what’s ahead, concert-wise, by simultaneously taking one final glance back to 2017 at some cuts by artists who had notable breakthrough years, a few great late fall/early winter releases, and a smattering of others that you (or I) might have overlooked along the way. All but one have upcoming Philly tour dates – many of them happening this month and several further on down the line. Continue reading →
Los Angeles based alt-folk artist Phoebe Bridgers released her debut full-length Stranger in the Alps to wide acclaim earlier this fall. The single “Motion Sickness” was named XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week in August. Bridgers will bring the sounds of the new album to Philly on February 21, 2018 for a headlining show at World Cafe Live. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →