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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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Espers Everywhere Now: Beloved Philly psych-folks reflect on life ahead of their hometown reunion

Espers
Espers | photo by Alissa Anderson | courtesy of the artist

Family. Work. Relationships. Relocation. Life.

These are things that closed a chapter on Philadelphia’s Espers in 2010, not long after the release of its final album, III, in 2009. “It might have been 2010, maybe sooner, like toward the release of the album, I’m not certain,” said Meg Baird, the one-time singing Epser(s) of how the band dissolved.

And that is it: Espers gently faded out just as they faded in, on a billowing, beautiful, undoubtedly dark and cumulous cloud of psilocybin-laced folk touched by occasional thunderbolts of electricity. Now, with the looming possibility of reissues of its brief catalog — four woodsy, gauzy, tactile albums and EPs — co-Epsers Baird, Greg Weeks, Brooke Sietinsons, Helena Espvall and Otto Hauser return to their rural, ancient-to-the-future roots tied (and unmoored from) folk’s traditions.

Maybe it’s just for one night (August 24 at Union Transfer), but the pairing with the like-minded Andy Cabic and his band Vetiver is perfect. Cabic’s handcrafted, shapeshifting, urbane folk was introduced to the world in 2004, the same year as Espers initial album, and the two in the birth of the modern folk movement, unified by the (then) further adventures of newbies Devendra Banhart, Ólöf Arnalds, Animal Collective and Faun Fables, as well as the return of alternative folk elders such as Clive Palmer, Bert Jansch and Vashti Bunyan.

Calling from San Francisco, where she’s lived for six years, it is odd speaking with Baird about Espers presently, as we have discussed her solo work (albums such as 2011’s Seasons on Earth and 2015’s Don’t Weigh Down the Light) without ever discussing Espers’ slip into darkness.

“It’s strange talking about Espers now, but not in a negative way,” said Baird, days before leaving for Philadelphia and rehearsals with her old band. “More of it is surprising that we’re here. It has been good, nice, that we’re revisiting the old material, and I’m glad we are able to play music together again.” Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: June is jumping with Kids of the Black Hole film series, Harmony Woods on the river, theremins in Laurel Hill cemetery, and Philly Still F’n Shreds fest

Out of the Blue screens at International House’s Kids of the Black Hole series this month

I am an unapologetic cheerleader for summer. There’s water ice, hang outs down the shore, you can ride your bike everywhere, and most importantly there are outside shows! I mean, say what you will about the beauty of West Philly in winter – and it really is quite nice, don’t get me wrong – but given the choice between sledding down the rock-strewn hills of Clark Park on a ripped pizza box I just found in a trash or sitting around and watching a bunch of bands play while eating ice cream during the annual music festival there, I know where I’ll be. Continue reading →

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Nostalgia Ultra: Rising Philly star Orion Sun fuses decades of classic music into something new and bold

Orion Sun | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | <a href="http://agellmanphotos.com/" target="_blank">agellmanphotos.com</a>
Orion Sun | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Ever since seeing her open up for Daniel Caesar at the Rotunda, my friends and I have been hooked on Orion Sun. The one-woman project of Jersey-born, Philly-based singer, producer, and multiinstrumentalist Tiffany Majette crafts music that is relatable, and cathartic. With clever lyrics and mellow beats, it feels like she’s soundtracking my tumultuous young adult life. She makes songs to dance to, cry to, fall in love to. I recently got the chance to sit down with her and ask her all about it. Continue reading →

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If Something Is On Fire, Maybe It Needs To Be: Philly saxophonist Keir Neuringer on distilling a troubled world into turbulent jazz

Keir Neuringer
Keir Neuringer | photo by Peter Gannushkin | courtesy of the artist

The moment you hear Keir Neuringer‘s alto-saxophone vibrating through an art museum — the warm tones bouncing off of avant garde sculptures — and watch those tones solidify into zoetropic color and immerse themselves into Muhal Richard Abrams collages, the only thing that seems to make sense, in the moment, is that you’re watching a reinterpretation of jazz.

It’s with his decidedly experimental (and experiential) band Irreversible Entanglements (featuring Camae Ayewa, aka Moor Mother, on poetic vocals) and his crashy, noise ‘n blues and equally experimental/experiential outfit Neuringer/Dulberger/Masri that Keir is able to accomplish this feat. With the release of Irreversible’s self titled debut on Don Giovanni Records, and the N/D/M trio’s Dromedaries on Already Dead Tapes, Keir has stepped into the same spaces where the conversation on jazz is being informed by artists like Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey and, of course, Kamasi Washington. His rustic, granola-outdoorsmans meets suburban punk dad visage aside, Neuringer channels the spirit of this young jazz movement, often moving beyond the genres confines, yet remaining steadfastly reverential to its roots, expressions, and most importantly to him, the genre’s intrinsic radical politics.

The Key sat down with this eclectic, inspiring musician and discussed what it’s like to transmit waves of change in a world that doesn’t seem to want to. Continue reading →

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Philly dedicates a stretch of Broad Street to hometown R&B icon, Boyz II Men

Boys II Men Blvd Ceremony |Photo by Matthew Shaver | mattshaverphoto.com

On Saturday afternoon, June 24th, 2017, the city of Philadelphia officially renamed the stretch of Broad Street between Christian and Carpenter as Boyz II Men BLVD. The R&B crooners have had a long and storied career that began in the city almost 3 decades ago. The fitting tribute took place on the steps of the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts. Continue reading →

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Iron Maiden unites generations of metal fans for its first Philly gig in two decades

Iron Maiden | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN | moonloopphotography.com

It is astounding to me that Iron Maiden’s last Philly performance was over 20 years ago, at the Electric Factory during the brief and forgettable tenure of singer Blaze Bayley. Like a mythical beast forcing its way through the gates of our city, Iron Maiden arrived last night, tour buses strong, laying out a stage built like a multilevel Mayan temple. True to their historic setlist approach, the band pulled strongly from 2015’s return to form, Book of Souls, performing six tracks including a massive rendition of the nearly 15-minute “The Red and the Black.” It was three songs into their set before they unleashed “Wrathchild,” fully engaging the very sold out 20,000 fans in the Wells Fargo center. A quick look through the crowd showed an incredible age range, from children clearly not even ten, the many in their 60s donning countless variations of black Eddie (the band’s mascot) t-shirts. Continue reading →

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Metallica returns to reign over The Linc for their first Philly show in almost a decade

Metallica | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | <a href="http://spotlightviews.com" target="_blank">spotlightviews.com</a>
Metallica | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com

36 years into their career, Metallica continues to prove why they’re considered legends: packing massive stadium stands and entire football fields with cheering fans. They don’t simply rely on their well-established name to draw audiences- they pulled out all of the stops for the WorldWired Tour and it shows. This past Friday night, Lincoln Financial Field was filled with driving riffs and dueling guitars for a full two hours of metal in its best form. Continue reading →

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The Cranberries revisit classics in Something Else, announce Philly date this September

The Cranberries | photo via the band’s Facebook page

Irish alt-rockers The Cranberries are back. The band just dropped a new album titled Something Else, where they revisit classics through stripped acoustic renditions along with sweeping orchestral additions.

The Cranberries also just announced an upcoming tour, in which they’ll perform these new arrangements alongside a string quartet. And if there’s one thing I know for sure in this life, it’s that adding string quartets is never a bad thing. Only added awesomeness awaits. Continue reading →

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Punk and Community: Something in the Way Festival and lots of Philly bands take on Webster Hall

Alex G | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Alex G | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Last Wednesday, a mob of punk rock fans engulfed Webster Hall in New York City. The occasion was Something In The Way, a one-night-only festival thrown by Run For Cover Records which featured three stages and fifteen bands crammed into an five-hour time window. The festival was a race against the clock for the sold out crowd to see all the great music packed into the Manhattan venue. Continue reading →