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Free At Noon Flashback: Jens Lekman delivers charm to spare with breezy, danceable set

Jens Lekman | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

If I learned one thing at this week’s Free At Noon, it’s that Jens Lekman has charm to spare. There’s a disarming ease to the way he talks and performs that you don’t see very often. Maybe it’s the way he bows after every song, or the way he quietly smiles to himself while he plays. Maybe it’s the way he thanked a baby for taking a nap in front of him mid-set, maybe it’s the way he held the hand of a fan during a tender lyric, or maybe it’s Maybelline. Whatever it is, it’s totally his own, and over the course of a breezy afternoon set, he put it to very good use. It certainly helped that most of the set came from his very fun, very danceable new album Life Will See You Now, but in all honesty, the guy could have kept my attention with a recorder and a tambourine. Continue reading →

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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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Free at Noon Flashback: Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White put a psychedelic twist on hits old and new

Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

What do Nico, Frankie Valli, and Frank Ocean all have in common? Their wonderful tunes take a different shape on Gentlewoman, Ruby Man, the wonderful new album from the pond-crossing pair Flo Morrissey and Matthew E. White. Lucky for us in the Free at Noon crowd, we got to experience the duo put their psychedelic twist on some classic tunes from the aforementioned trio and beyond.

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Free at Noon Flashback: Ron Gallo brings his raw power and character to the World Cafe Live stage

Ron Gallo | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Ron Gallo | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Man, this Ron Gallo guy, he’s something special. His eloquent lyricism, blues-like guitar riffs, and overall raw attitude defines him as his own, and it all came into full effect as he took the World Cafe Live stage for a round of pure rock and roll.

Gallo’s return trip to XPN found him performing material from his soon-to-be-released record Heavy Meta, along with some of his past discography. Matching the manic nature of all those damn stage lights, Gallo and friends flowed through fifty minutes of some fantastic garage rock, as songs like “Young Lady, You’re Scaring Me” and “Kill the Medicine Man” felt like a White Stripes and Costello Music baby. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Leif Vollebekk leaves it all onstage with intimate solo set

Leif Vollebekk | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Leif Vollebekk | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

When we talk about singer/songwriter music, the word “intimate” pops up frequently. It makes sense, of course, since they tend to talk about things that are private or closely personal, but after a while, the word starts to feel redundant. With that being said, though, I can’t think of any other way to describe Leif Vollebekk’s set this afternoon. He’s using the same ingredients as many of his peers, but it still comes out feeling fresh, genuine, and yes, very intimate. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Chuck Prophet keeps the rock & roll tradition alive with crowd-pleasing acoustic set

Chuck Prophet | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | <A href=http://cameronpollackphotography.com target="_blank">cameronpollackphotography.com</a>
Chuck Prophet | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollackphotography.com

Singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet’s music is steeped in history. Whether it be the San Francisco-centric Temple Beautiful or the personal tales on 2014’s Night Surfer, there’s a palpable reverence for the past that can’t be ignored. The rock & roll tradition is constantly being reimagined and reinterpreted, and Chuck is just one of many reshaping it in his image. His latest, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, is sure to continue on that trajectory. On record, he’s usually joined by a full band, but one man and his guitar were more than enough to satisfy the Free At Noon audience this Friday afternoon. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Purling Hiss rages into 2017 with a set of High Bias jams

Purling Hiss | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | <a href=http://cameronpollack.com/ target="_blank">cameronpollack.com</a>
Purling Hiss | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollack.com

Things got loud at the final Free at Noon concert of 2016. Philadelphia power trio Purling Hiss, fronted by dynamic guitarist Mike Polizze, tore through a 45-minute set centered around its eighth studio LP High Bias but drew from all corners of its career. The set opened with a burst of feedback and then “Learning Slowly,” an infectious song from its 2014 record Weirdon. The song is built around a racing motorcycle riff and is a testament to the band’s sense of heritage — behind the squeals and squalor, Polizze and the Hiss write songs strongly informed by classic 70s rock riffs and structures.

As the set proceeded, that contrast was underscored — howling noise of cuts like “3000 AD” and the cranky “Teddy’s Servo Motors” sat alongside poppy burners like “Fever” and the sing-along-able “Follow You Around.” There’s a bit of a Sex Pistols sneer in High Bias, and a touch of 80s college rock — evidenced by the band’s cover of “Green Eyes” by Hüsker Dü. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Matt Pond PA brings his wintry charm to WCL

Matt Pond PA / Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Matt Pond PA / Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Matt Pond PA‘s music was made for the long drive home, for the precious little time spent with family. The music off his new record Winter Lives evokes images of snow-capped pines and valleys dusted in white. His lyricism evokes imagery of a world that, while rife with problems, is still beautiful. His music, especially from this latest record, instills a belief that there is somehow still love out there, a belief, foremost, in people.

That belief shone throughout his Free at Noon set; starting with “In Winter” he made the room warm up with lyrics like “the cold will bring us close”, a welcome sentiment in a time where, frighteningly, everyone feels slightly more distant than usual. “The Glow,” a song written for Pond’s mother, was rife with vibrant guitar, and painted a beautiful picture of a family and all its messy dynamics in the dead of winter. Songs like “So Much Trouble”, “Love To Get Used” and “Halloween” showed Pond’s take on all the vicissitudes of life; humans, as it turns out, are still complicated. Continue reading →