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Bob Dylan, Kurt Vile and Amos Lee are on the initial lineup for The Met Philly

Bob Dylan | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Kurt Vile | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN // Amos Lee | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN

Singer-songwriter icon Bob Dylan will be the first artist to take the stage at the newly renovated venue The Met Philly, which opens on December 3rd. The initial lineup was announced this afternoon in a press conference from promoters Live Nation, and it also features Philly son Kurt Vile playing his hometown album release for his new Bottle It In LP on December 29th, and fellow hometown hero Amos Lee headlining on April 6, 2019.

The initial run of shows also includes Toto tribute band Weezer headlining on December 12th, cerebral Bucks County alt-popsters Ween on December 13th, violinist Lindsey Stirling on December 18th, and Germantown rapper PnB Rock on December 28th. Continue reading →

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Kurt Vile returns with the expansive “Bassackwards” from his new album Bottle It In

Kurt Vile | photo by Jo McCaughey | courtesy of the artist

When Philadelphia’s newest concert venue, The Met, opens this December, hometown hero Kurt Vile will be there to celebrate. Vile has just announced that his new album, Bottle It In, will be released October 12 on Matador Records. Following the release, Vile will embark on a lengthy tour throughout the fall, winter and spring that will take him through many of the world’s iconic venues, but playing one of The Met’s first shows will certainly be a highlight. Along with today’s announcement Vile has also shared a new song off the forthcoming album, the nearly 10-minute “Bassackwards,” which Matador calls “the album’s beating heart.” Listen below.

The Met, once known as The Metropolitan Opera House, was built in 1908 but sat dormant for years before its recent rehabilitation, which intends to restore it to its former glory as a key piece of Philadelphia’s cultural scene. The North Broad Street venue will be Philadelphia’s largest non-arena venue and will host a variety of performers; its initial lineup of shows has just been announced and will include performances by Bob Dylan, Weezer, Amos Lee, and several more music and comedy acts. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Loading Zones” by Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | photo courtesy of the artist

One might expect a song called “Loading Zones” from such a musician like Kurt Vile would reflect on his extensive touring with The War On Drugs, Courtney Barnett, or with the Violators, loading in and out for shows almost constantly since 2005. Instead, the track — XPN’s new Gotta Hear Song of the Week — is a nostalgic and familiar contemplation of the everyday loading zone, Vile singing of avoiding paying parking by using the loading zones in his hometown streets. “Get my shopping done, laundry too, drop some dead weight, clean my hands of what I need to clean my hands of.” The structure of the song follows suit, never faltering in its churning groove. Continue reading →

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Kurt Vile just wants to park in the “Loading Zones” video

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | photo courtesy of the artist

One might expect a song called “Loading Zones” from such a musician like Kurt Vile would reflect on his extensive touring with The War On Drugs, Courtney Barnett, or with the Violators, loading in and out for shows almost constantly since 2005. Instead, the track is a nostalgic and familiar contemplation of the everyday loading zone, Vile singing of avoiding paying parking by using the loading zones in his hometown streets. “Get my shopping done, laundry too, drop some dead weight, clean my hands of what I need to clean my hands of.” The structure of the song follows suit, never faltering in its churning groove. Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett debuts her new album, jams with Kurt Vile in epic Union Transfer show

Courtney Barnett | photo by Natalie Piserchio | nataliepiserchio.com

Courtney Barnett played a lively, jam-packed 90-minute set on Wednesday night to a sold out Union Transfer, showcasing her entire new album Tell Me How You Really Feel, as well as older hits like “Avant Gardener” and “Pedestrian at Best,” and a surprise guest performance with Philadelphia native Kurt Vile.

Barnett is on the last leg of their mini US tour with Bones Sloane on bass, Katie Harkin leading on guitar and keys, and drummer Dave Mudie, debuting her new album, out Friday on Barnett’s Milk! Records, Mom + Pop and Marathon Artists.

Barnett started their Philly set with Hopefulessness, and quickly after said, “We’re gonna play our new album. It comes out tomorrow, I think? What day of the week is it?”, with her classic bed-head charm. The band played an energetic “City Looks Pretty,” “Charity,” and “Nameless, Faceless,” along with more subdued songs from the album like “Need A Little Time,” and “Sunday Roast.” Continue reading →

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John Prine’s New Prime Time: Veteran troubadour holds court with Kurt Vile at the Merriam Theater

John Prine | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

There are not many of the old original issue John Prines left; that breed of craggy, earnest-but-dryly humorous storyteller-troubadour with Midwestern roots running as deep as ancient maples and ruminations of lives past that are equally old and pulsing and grainy. As a songwriter who poised his characters in a constant state of distress, distaste, wry sly circumstance, or even love with an historic downhome perspective, Prine was (and is, from the sound and furry of his first album in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness) a treasure. Add in his usual mix of rough-hewn country and folk with hints of soul and rockabilly, and you’re cooking with gas. Prine’s gruff and ready expressive voice is but icing on a savory confection. And now, Prine – still a mailman at heart, always a contemporary to elders such as Kris Kristofferson, Steve Goodman and Jackson Browne – has hollowed out a new niche as a godfather to the likes of Sturgill Simpson and Brandi Carlisle, and as a man who outran death (two cancers) and the age’s usual ravages to find himself comfortably humble (and hummable).

In a sold out performance at the Merriam Theater, Prine, his crack musical team (including multi-string man Fats Kaplin), and opening act/occasional on-stage collaborator Kurt Vile, formed a circle around material that was bruised, even busted, but never completely broken down and out for the count. Continue reading →

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Yo La Tengo brings two sets, a spectrum of tones and a jam with Kurt Vile to Union Transfer

Yo La Tengo with Kurt Vile | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

You have to love a band that’s not so jaded, after being at it for over thirty years, to come out to their own merch table after a two-hour show to meet their fans. Yo La Tengo‘s Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley did just that on Saturday night, mingling with the last of their most devout devotees to finally drag themselves out of Union Transfer close to midnight, earnestly and charmingly thanking those who came out to the sold-out event and signing everything from free copies of a crossword puzzle Kaplan drafted, to fancy limited-edition orange vinyl copies of the new studio album There’s A Riot Goin’ On which they’re touring to support. Continue reading →

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Watch Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile star in a doc about the Loew’s Jersey Theater

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN | nataliepiserchio.com

The Loew’s Jersey Theatre is a vintage movie palace that is seeing new life after almost 90 years. It opened in 1929 in Jersey City and, like many theaters of its kind, fell into disrepair in the 70s as moviegoing trended towards the homogeneous corporate multiplex space we know today. Thankfully, the Loew’s has a community around it dedicated to refurbishing it and making it into an arts space for a new century, hosting film screenings, theater and live music — including a stop on Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile‘s Lotta Sea Lice tour.

That concert is the setting for a documentary produced by WeTransfer and released today on YouTube showcasing the gig, yes, but also the people behind the scenes that make the theater work. We meet Paul Citti, a dapper organist who coaxes massive, eerie sounds out of the theater’s pipe organ. (Vile gets a lesson from him after soundcheck, and applauds with a huge smile after hearing some unearthly horror score tones.)  We meet Pattie Gordan, president of restoration group Friends of the Loew’s, and promoter Todd Abramson, who’s been bringing indie rock to the Loew’s stage since booking a Bright Eyes show in the early aughts. And we meet Dave Vanderheyden, the venue’s sound engineer who chats with the film crew while soldering an imposing section of an old analog mixing console.

And at the center, of course, is Barnett and Vile.  Continue reading →

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Just Announced: John Prine will be joined by Kurt Vile at Merriam Theater this April

John Prine | photo by John Kurc | courtesy of artist

Not only will legend John Prine grace the Merriam Theater this spring, he’ll also bring Philly hero Kurt Vile along for the wise ‘n folky party on April 14th.

This year, Prine released a songbook titled John Prine Beyond Words through his own independent label, Oh Boy Records, which featured selected songs from Prine’s catalogue and the stories behind them. Kurt Vile has been rocking his incredible tour with Courtney Barnett, which recently brought an intimate-feeling gig to Philly at Tower Theatre. Continue reading →