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Listen to a new Beck song, “Dreams”

Beck | XPoNential Music Festival 2014 | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
Beck | XPoNential Music Festival 2014 | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

Beck has released a new song, “Dreams,” from a forthcoming album. The new album doesn’t have a name or a release date, however “Dreams” is available digitally now. The song is a stark contrast to last year’s Grammy award winning Album of the Year, Morning Phase, and showcases the funkier side of Beck, one of last year’s XPoNential Music Festival headliners. Listen to the song below.

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XPNFest Recap: Beck, Band of Horses and The Districts bring the weekend to a tremendous close

Beck | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
Beck | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

Wow. I really don’t know that there are any other words for it – wow wow wow. What a tremendous way to close this year’s XPoNential Music Festival: an outrageous, high-energy performance from the one and only Beck, with the stage being nicely set by the rousing rock anthems of Band of Horses and an intense performance from Central PA noisemakers The Districts. A triple-header that contained as much bottled-up energy as the rest of the weekend alone.

After the festival attendees were ushered from Wiggins Park to the Susquehanna Bank Center by Philly’s New Sound Brass Ensemble, The Districts took the stage shortly after 7 with an atmospheric and expressive performance of “Long Distance.” It was a bittersweet set for the guys, since it was the band’s last gig performing with founding guitarist Mark Larson. Continue reading →

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Norah Jones, Jack White, Lord Huron, fun., and more to be featured on Beck’s Song Reader

Beck at Firefly 2014 | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/concert.htm
Beck at Firefly 2014 | Photo by Joe del Tufo | http://www.joedeltufo.com/concert.htm
Two years ago, Beck released his new “album” – Song Reader – a book of sheet music and art featuring twenty new songs. The new songs weren’t recorded by Beck at all; the idea was that the songs would be recorded by others using the sheet music. “There are no rules in interpretation,” said Beck in an interview with McSweeney’s, who released Song Reader. “These songs are meant to be pulled apart and reshaped,” he said in the interview. “The idea of them being played by choirs, brass bands, string ensembles, anything outside of traditional rock-band constructs—it’s interesting because it’s outside of where my songs normally exist,” said Beck.

On July 29th, Norah Jones, Jeff Tweedy, Lord Huron, Jack White, Beck himself, and others will be featured on Warby Parker Presents Song Reader. Co-produced by Beck with Wes Anderson and Randall Poster, proceeds will be donated to 826 National – a nationwide nonprofit organization that offers a variety of opportunities to students, ages 6-18, to “explore their creativity and improve their writing skills.”

Beck is playing on Sunday, July 27th at the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru. The set list for Song Reader is below.

1. Moses Sumney, “Title of This Song”
2. Fun., “Please Leave a Light on When You Go”
3. Tweedy, “The Wolf Is on the Hill”
4. Norah Jones, “Just Noise”
5. Lord Huron, “Last Night You Were a Dream”
6. Bob Forrest, “Saint Dude”
7. Jack White, “I’m Down”
8. Beck, “Heaven’s Ladder”
9. Juanes, “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard”
10. Laura Marling, “Sorry”
11. Jarvis Cocker, “Eyes That Say ‘I Love You’”
12. David Johansen, “Rough on Rats”
13. Jason Isbell, “Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings”
14. Marc Ribot, “The Last Polka”
15. Eleanor Friedberger, “Old Shanghai”
16. Sparks, “Why Did You Make Me Care?”
17. Swamp Dogg, “America, Here’s My Boy”
18. Jack Black, “We All Wear Cloaks”
19. Loudon Wainwright III, “Do We? We Do”
20. Gabriel Kahane & Ymusic, “Mutilation Rag”

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Beck was off the hook at Firefly and I can’t believe he’s playing #xpnfest

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Beck at Firefly | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

A month from today, I’ll be at the Susquehanna Bank Center on a (hopefully) crisp and breezy summer evening, and the stage just down the way will be populated by a handful of musicians fronted by the one and only Beck.

I was massively excited when we announced the eclectic modern-rock songwriter as one of the XPoNential Music Festival headliners, but like many of you, I was a bit uncertain. What kind of Beck would we get with this show? His last release was an unrecorded songbook that other musicians were welcome to perform in their own chamber-rock groups. His current release is the introspective and hushed Morning Phase. Would the XPNFest bring Beck backed by a band? Would it be a sad-man band or snappy party crew? He’s a knockout performer no matter the tone of the setlist – a very varied 2006 show at the Tower proved that – but something about an outdoor festival setting seems to beg for the livelier side of the catalog. Is that what we were getting?

Beck at Firefly | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com
Beck and his band at Firefly | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | joedeltufo.com

Beck’s performance last weekend at the Firefly Music Festival in Delaware assuaged my fears. The big and bright Saturday night set, played to a crowd of thousands clamored around the Lawn Stage of the festival, was more celebratory than somber. It pulled selections from across the breadth of his catalog – 90s slacker rock intertwined with aughties postmodern funk, hip-hop beats cut into overblown punk. And the quiet side of his catalog wasn’t ignored either – “Blue Moon,” the sublime single from Phase, made an appearance alongside Sea Change‘s shuffling “Lost Cause”; the bluesy harmonica stomp of “One Foot in the Grave” showed up as well.

Those songs were great to hear, but the energy of other selections was staggering. Rousing opener “Devil’s Haircut” got things off to a punchy start, the iconic “Loser” dropped early on in the setlist, “Sexx Laws” was delightful and the off-the-hook energy of “E-Pro” was unreal. Clad in a button down shirt, suit jacket and stylish fedora, Beck leaped gleefully in the air, brandishing a guitar and mugging with his five-piece band while thousands of LED lights twinkled behind them in a psychedelic display.

Elsewhere he crooned, and danced – showed he’s still adept at doing the robot, to be specific – and dropped a sweet cover of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” By the closing notes of “Where It’s At” and the subsequent bows, I was dazed and collecting pieces my brain from all across this unassuming field in Kent County.

“I can’t believe he’s playing our festival,” I kept repeating to myself. And granted, we may have a completely different Beck. He may be in quiet Sunday night mode, or he might stretch the scope of his set even further given his headliner slot. One thing’s for certain – it’s going to be an outstanding show.

Weekend passes for the XPoNential Music Festival can be picked up here; single-night tix for the Beck performance can be found here. To get a taste of the possible eclecticism in store, listen to our career-spanning Beck Spotify playlist here. And check out some videos and the full Firefly setlist after the jump. Continue reading →

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XPoNential Update: Schedule released, Strand of Oaks added, plus a video trip down memory lane of past festivals

Ingrid Michaelson | Photo by Cameron Pollack
Ingrid Michaelson | Photo by Cameron Pollack

WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival is just one month away. And I’m sure by now you’re familiar with who’s playing this year: we have amazing artists like Beck, Ingrid Michaelson, The Hold Steady, Dawes, Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis, The Districts, Rodrigo y Gabriela and more on the bill.

What you don’t already know is the daily lineup schedule – and we’ve heard a lot of you asking when it would be released. This morning, we’ll answer your questions, because it’s right here.

Also, we’re happy to announce a new addition to the lineup: XPN Artist to Watch Strand Of Oaks. The Philly quartet rocked hard at this year’s Non-Comm Festival, and impressed us so much with the brand new album HEAL (released this past Tuesday on Dead Oceans), that we decided to add them to #XPNFest, upping the rock and roll quotient.  Here’s a very fun interview The Key’s Elliott Sharp did with Strand Of Oaks front man Tim Showalter the day the record came out: don’t forget to see them this Friday afternoon for a Free At Noon Performance too.

Speaking of things that are awesome, we’ve collected some videos of past XPoNential Festival performances to get you psyched for a great weekend of live music on the Camden waterfront a month from now. Check them out after the jump. Go here to XPN’s Youtube channel to watch more videos from past #XPNfest’s.

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros performing “Janglin” last year:

Here’s “4 & 4″ by The Districts:

The Lumineers playing “Flowers in Your Hair” and “Hey Ho” from our 2012 event:

Continue reading →