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Free at Noon Flashback: Grandaddy celebrates release of new album, Last Place

Grandaddy | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com
Grandaddy | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com

If you were to take a quick gander across the crowd at today’s Free At Noon, you might be confused as to what artist could possibly appeal to such a wide array of folks. That artist is 90’s indie outfit,  Grandaddy.

Completely packed in the World Cafe Live upstairs stage, fans young and old and in-between jammed along to Grandaddy’s afternoon set, which included a mix of past favorites and new tracks off their album released today, Last Place.

Wearing a neon orange flat rim hat and plaid shirt, frontman, Jason Lytle looked just as much as the prolific skater as he did twenty years ago. Opening song “Hewlett’s Daughter” immediately drew excitement and yelps from the crowd–at once commencing a sea of head nodding. This sea later grew into full out head-bang fest the moment “A.M. 180’s” familiar techno beats began. Continue reading →

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A Lost Machine: New Grandaddy, Jay Som and The Mountain Goats on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Grandaddy | Photo courtesy of the artist

Just in time for a Friday night, the Indie Rock Hit Parade returns to you tonight at 11pm ET on WXPN. Stay tuned shortly after Making Time RADio with Dave P for a full two-hour show that, among other things, will feature a spotlight on the newly released album from this week’s Free at Noon guests, Grandaddy! The California band just put out Last Place, a terrific new album that happens to be their first in a decade. We’ll dig into that plus hear new tracks from dream-pop prodigy Jay Som, a surprisingly gothic Mountain Goats and more! Check out a few of the new tracks below…

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Hear Grandaddy’s first record in ten years via NPR First Listen, see them at Free At Noon this Friday

Grandaddy | photo by Dan Cronin | via NPR
Grandaddy | photo by Dan Cronin | via NPR

Indie rock veterans Grandaddy are back, and it sounds like they never left. It’s been more than ten years since Just Like the Fambly Cat, but on new record Last Place, the fuzz guitar and analog synthesizer remains gloriously intact over a forty four minute, twelve track set. It’s out this Friday, March 3rd, but you can stream it now via NPR First Listen. Continue reading →

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35mm of Firefly: Revisiting the Woodlands on film

Firefly 2016 | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Firefly 2016 | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Dover’s annual Firefly Music Festival is just about the friendliest mega-festival you’ll ever go to.

I say this, worth noting, not having been to Bonnaroo, or Coachella. Nor am I old enough to have experienced the grandaddy of all festivals, Woodstock — though I’m sure there’s a lot fiction and myth and revisionist history surrounding that concert’s supposed transcendence.

Compared to the current circuit of gigs in brutal-summer-sun-on-asphalt settings, however, the ones taking the let’s-cram-everybody-in-a-municipal-park approach, the ones making even the strongest lineup more daunting than it needs to be — Firefly is clearly a festival designed with the fans in mind. This is my third year covering it, and each year, incremental improvements are made, reacting to the previous year’s challenges while keeping an eye towards growth. In 2016, spending a long weekend in the Woodlands amidst a throng of 100,000 fans felt remarkably…comfortable. Water stations were plentiful, opportunities for cooler air and shade were at (most) every turn, music was never far – nor was it in your face either. Getting from the Lawn Stage at the festival’s south gate to the main Firefly Stage on the north side took maybe 20 minutes in the rockiest of conditions; in the past, it required over a half hour  to traverse the festival grounds.

In any number of ways — the forest setting and ubiquity of nature surrounding the show, the super upbeat signage, the way corporate branding was (for the most part) downplayed — Firefly shared experiential commonalities with homespun, hyper-local hippie-oriented musical gatherings dotting the map. The differences being, of course, the colossal pop stars (The 1975, Mumford and Sons, Ludacris, CHVRCHES) and soon-to-be pop stars (Pell, Kaneholler, Quilt, Son Little, Civil Twilight) filling out the lineup. This is, after all, an event where music industry mechanizations move the gears. It’s just refreshing to see that this can be done while still providing a positive experience for the fans.

For this year’s Firefly, I documented it with a mix of digital photography and a roll of 35 mm film on a Canon AE-1. The film is back just recently from the lab, and today I present its highlights to you, with some running commentary. See my digital pictures from Friday here, from Saturday here and Sunday over here. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Band of Horses re-emerge to take the audience’s breath away

Band of Horses | photo by Sydney Schafer for WXPN
Band of Horses | photo by Sydney Schafer for WXPN

It’s been a couple years since Band of Horses released a studio album. Four years to be exact, but the band has been busy since 2012 and they proved it on the NonCOMM stage by mixing old songs and new and, please pardon my French, rocking our asses off.

To prepare for the release of their new album Why Are You OK on June 10th, the band used the convention to test out new material but also threw the crowd some favorites such as set opener “Laredo” and tear-jerker classic “No Ones Gonna Love You.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Fake Boyfriend at Bourbon and Branch, Rozwell Kid at Chameleon Club, Marc Neibauer at Kung Fu Necktie

Fake Boyfriend | via fakeboyfriend.bandcamp.com
Fake Boyfriend | via fakeboyfriend.bandcamp.com

There’s not much out there on the internet about Philly’s Fake Boyfriend at present – just a Bandcamp page with a 27-second noisepunk freakout called “Gimmick.” Lyrics are pretty straightforward and self-depricatring: “Hi, we’re fake boyfriend and we’re a gimmick.” But the band (which features erstwhile singer-songwriter Abi Reimold rocking the heck out on drums) has been burning up the house show world for the better part of this year. Tonight they hit up a proper venue – Northern Liberties’ Bourbon and Branch. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Listen to “Gimmick” below, and then listen again. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: John Legend at the Mann Center, The Box Tiger at The Fire, Song Dogs at Boot and Saddle

John Legend | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
John Legend | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Philly R&B legend John Legend plays the Mann Center tonight. The nine time Grammy winner played a wonderful show at Verizon Hall earlier this year, in support of Love in the Future. Listen to  the smash hit “All of Me” from Love in the Future below. In May, Legend also gave the stirring, wise commencement address for this year’s University of Pennsylvania’s graduation. Get more info at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Polyphonic Spree at The TLA, Lantern at Johnny Brenda’s, Pretty & Nice and Break it Up at Kung Fu Necktie

Photo Credit: Lauren Logan Photography
Photo Credit: Lauren Logan Photography

Still looking for fun this 4th of July Weekend?  The Polyphonic Spree have you covered.  This humongous group of musicians have been performing and releasing albums since 2000 with no signs of slowing down.  This August, they’ll release their fifth studio album, Yes, It’s True.  In their robes and with their upbeat music, the band puts on quite the show.  Check out their cover of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” (featuring Jason Lytle of Grandaddy) from their Trocadero show back in December, and see them tonight at The TLA.

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The Polyphonic Spree Holiday Extravaganza: Transforming The Troc into a magical winter wonderland

Setting foot into The Troc on Friday night for Texas pop group The Polyphonic Spree’s Holiday Extravaganza, it was immediately clear that this was not your typical rock concert. A man with an accordion stood in the lobby, churning out Christmas carols; behind him, Mike Gold’s Ballooniac crafted inflatable candy canes and hats for eager children. Men in Rudolph and Frosty costumes waved and posed for photos. The stage was framed by dozens of colorfully wrapped gifts, with holiday lights strung about festively. Was this a rock venue, or had I been magically transported to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole?

A bit of both. The appropriately named “Extravaganza” is described by Spree band leader Tim DeLaughter as “kind of like Laugh-In with the Polyphonic Spree as the soundtrack.” The stunning 4-hour show featured 2 sets from the Spree, as well as performances from children’s singer and cartoonist Gustafer Yellowgold, vaudeville artist Keith Nelson, the Franklin Institute’s Traveling Science Show, and the Philadelphia Zoo on Wheels. An impressive spectacle for sure—but not surprising given the Spree’s affinity for grand, over-the-top theatrics. Continue reading →