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Party People: Ryan Adams, Kurt Vile, Tommy Stinson bring XPNFest night one to a close

Ryan Adams | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com
Ryan Adams | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

“No lectures tonight,” Ryan Adams told the crowd at the BB&T Pavillion last night. “Let’s just have some fun.”

In part, it felt like a dig at his fellow Los Angeleno Father John Misty – who played a very polarizing performance at Wiggins Park earlier in the day. It was also a bit of a nod to the admittedly mercurial tone of his own Philly gigs with The Shining in recent years. They always rock hard, no doubt, but sometimes the interaction is minimal. Other times its aggressive, like when an oblivious fan at the Tower Theater insisted on repeatedly shooting flash photos of Adams – who has been very open about his meniere’s disease and how difficult it makes performing with bright lights – and so the singer gave the fan a piece of his mind.

There was none of that last night. For his headlining XPoNential Music Festival set, Adams opened up with that call to have fun and a shout out all the party people in the house – and true to that, he and The Shining seemed to be having the absolute best time up there. Continue reading →

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Time Capsule: Kurt Vile on channeling blue-collar blues into “Space Forklift”

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

In Time Capsule, we ask artists to revisit songs they may have forgotten: pieces they wrote, released, and packed away—until now. Each month, we’ll pick one band who will pick one song and tell us the story behind where they were and what they were thinking when they wrote it.

It’s not news that Kurt Vile used to drive a forklift for a living; a lot of his work is influenced by a blue-collar attitude — from folky fingerpicking to his gravely voice and lyrics. In this city, to gain any respect, you better have worked a dead-end job shoveling shit, fixing radiators, or some day in, day out task that propels you to dream of something better — and deserve it when you get it.

Kurt spent two years handling a mini tractor, rising its giant prongs up and down, over and over, 9 to 5, between lunch and dinner. He lived in Boston at the time. Then, he quit and moved home.

Which is how “Space Forklift” came about. Continue reading →

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Interview: Philly native Steve Gunn talks Kurt Vile, Wawa, and new record Eyes on the Lines on Matador Records

steve gunn
Steve Gunn | photo by Constance Mensh | courtesy of Matador Records

For almost as long as I’ve been listening to music, Steve Gunn has been making it. The Lansdowne native first picked up a bass at age 13, and a guitar one year later. Since then, he’s morphed into one of the great—if underrated—American guitarists, capable of evoking a world of emotions, most of them breezy and warm, with a few nimble finger picks.

Over the past two-and-a-half decades, Gunn has done (nearly) it all. He started off playing hardcore punk in the Philly burbs, before discovering folk, alt-country, and classical Indian and Moroccan tunes. He played with the late finger-picking master Jack Rose, released two records with famed drummer John Truscinski, and even logged some time in Kurt Vile’s band, The Violators—all of which undoubtedly shaped his writing today. Since 2007, he’s released more than a dozen splits and solo records and has toured across the globe, sharing stages with the likes of Wilco, Vile, members of Sonic Youth, and more.

Early last year, he signed to Matador Records, who released his latest effort, Eyes on the Lines, this June. A dreamy, wandering record that seems made for road trips and Sunday mornings, Lines is arguably his best record yet, and his ticket to greater exposure. Continue reading →

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Watch Kurt Vile talk harmonies, kids and hit records on a CBS live performance

Kurt Vile and the Violators | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | jeremy-zim.com
Kurt Vile and the Violators | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | jeremy-zim.com

Kurt Vile got some airtime over the weekend, appearing on CBS This Morning: Saturday. The Philly musician and his Violators band played a handful of songs off of last year’s b’lieve i’m goin’ down in the TV studio, including “Pretty Pimpin,” which hit #1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative chart in March.

Continue reading →

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Listen to Kurt Vile perform “Pretty Pimpin” and “I’m An Outlaw” on The Best Show

Kurt Vile and the Violators | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | jeremy-zim.com
Kurt Vile and the Violators | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | jeremy-zim.com

Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile is a favorite here at XPN because of the rockin’ jams he cooks up with The Violators. But today, we get a taste of who he is while not on stage. Vile stopped by Tom Scharpling’s studio for the latest episode of The Best Show podcast. The two talk about The Eagles, Jelloman, stage presence, and eventually get into a live performance from Vile. “Pretty Pimpin” and “I’m An Outlaw” off 2015’s b’lieve i’m goin down were his songs of choice. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Philly’s resident outlaw Kurt Vile closes out day one

Kurt Vile and the Violators | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | <A href=http://jeremy-zim.com target="_blank">jeremy-zim.com</a>
Kurt Vile and the Violators | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | jeremy-zim.com

Day one of NonCOMM is over, but it didn’t get there before one last knockout performance from Philly’s own Kurt Vile and his band, The Violators. Vile jumped on stage right after Bonnie Raitt finished up, and he made a point to tell the crowd that he is a fan of the legendary singer-songwriter, just like us. “We haven’t played together in a while,” remarked Vile, “but I just saw Bonnie Raitt so we should pretty much just give up now.”

Vile’s set played into mostly his new album, b’lieve i’m goin down, with one exception from Wakin On A Pretty Daze (“KV Crimes”). He opened with the pounding “Dust Bunnies,” and in between each song the Violators would take turn changing instruments, Vile included. After the banjo-thumping “I’m An Outlaw,” he toned it down with the daunting yet inspiring “Wheelhouse.” Continue reading →

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Watch a G-rated Kurt Vile on Kids Interview Bands

kurt vile
Kurt Vile | Photo by Henry Diltz

Kids Interview Bands is a Youtube Channel where young, impressionable listeners talk to various musicians about their own childhoods, and they’ve spoken to everyone from Slayer‘s Tom Araya to Foals. They recently brought on Philly’s own pimpin’ Kurt Vile for a quick yet humorous discussion that he titled “KV, Rated G.” Continue reading →

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Watch Kurt Vile cover Spacemen 3 with Purling Hiss’ Mike Polizze at KFN

Purling Hiss and Kurt Vile #latergram

A photo posted by Scott Troyan (@sxt) on

You gotta hand it to Philly’s Kurt Vile: he looks out for his friends. On tour in support of his breakout album Childish Prodigy, Vile took fellow Philadelphians Birds of Maya on tour – almost seven years later, Vile is still tight with Birds’ axe-slinger Mike Polizze, and is bringing him out on the road this spring in support of b’lieve i’m goin down… with the solo incarnation of his current project Purling Hiss. Continue reading →

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Behold! It’s Kurt Vile as a squirrel, singing a song in the HBO show Animals

Kurt Vile, in squirrel form
Kurt Vile, in squirrel form | courtesy of Matador Records

You know you’ve “made it” when you’ve been turned into a squirrel and featured on an HBO television show. That just happened to Philly’s own Kurt Vile, who made an appearance on HBO’s Animals this week.

In the episode, Vile plays a stoned squirrel who shares some nuts with a group of strangers (also squirrels) who come by his house (a tree, naturally). He then proceeds to serenade them with an original song about nuts. Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett made a playlist for The Guardian, calls Kurt Vile “life-changing”

Courtney Barnett | Photo By Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
Courtney Barnett | Photo By Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

Melbourne rocker Courtney Barnett just shared her five songs of the moment with The Guardian, and it just goes to show that the woman’s got incredible taste in music. In the mix with a buzzsaw jam from Bully and an indie classic from The Vaselines are tunes from fellow Australian singer-songwriter Sarah Mary Chadwick and English rocker Bill Ryder Jones. Oh, and Philadelphia’s Kurt Vile, who Barnett positively gushes about. Continue reading →