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Free At Noon Flashback: The Districts redefine “explosive” at World Cafe Live

The Districts | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

I had long resigned myself to the bittersweet fact that since I’ve always been unlucky in catching The Districts live, the first time I’d finally see them would be in some large, sold out venue given the skyrocketing trajectory of their career and fanbase around the world that will only grow once their newest release Popular Manipulations reaches the ears and hearts of the masses.

Fortunately, this was not the case. A week after the crazy sold out Union Transfer record release show (read our review here) found The Districts back in Philadelphia to perform for XPN’s Free At Noon series at the smaller, more intimate World Cafe Live. It appeared that the rareness of this opportunity was not lost on fans, as the line stretched up the stairs and out onto the sidewalk long before doors opened and filled the venue to capacity by the ten-minute mark. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Gordi bridges heady synth-rock and anthemic pop at World Cafe Live

Gordi | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

After playing a Thursday night gig at Johnny Brenda’s and before heading down I-95 to play D.C.’s Songbyrd Music House, singer-songwriter Sophie Payten — known onstage as Gordi — stoped by World Cafe Live for a Free at Noon concert performance.

Sonically, the Sydney, Australia singer and songwriter manages to exist in numerous stylistic zones simultaneously. After opening on the majestic “Myriad,” a simmering spacey synth-driven track, the mood shifted with “All The Light,” a poppy, Paula Cole-ish number peppered with samples. After that taste of her forthcoming Reservoir LP, out August 25th, Gordi dove back to her Clever Disguise EP for “Wanting,” her acoustic guitar strums providing an organic counterpoint to the drumpad rhythm. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Waxahatchee brings Out in the Storm to life

Waxahatchee at WXPN’s Free At Noon Concert on 7/14/17 | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

The relentless summer rain was no deterrent for the crowd that turned up en masse at World Cafe this afternoon, and for good reason: today is all about Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee. Her excellent fourth record Out in the Storm dropped today on Merge Records, the full band performed for WXPN’s Free At Noon, frontwoman Katie Crutchfield will be a guest DJ on John Vettese’s show What’s the Frequency at 7 p.m., and the day caps off when Waxahatchee plays a hometown show at Union Transfer with Cayetana and Snail Mail to begin an extensive US tour.

Fifteen minutes before Free At Noon began, the front row of the World Cafe stage was already claimed and the rest of the crowd was slowly trickling in, shaking off umbrellas and grabbing a drink. Five minutes before, the floor was packed and the anticipation palpable when Waxahatchee made their entrance (featuring #ladysuits) to begin a set that showcased entirely new tracks.

Opening with my personal favorite from the new album, the burning “Recite Remorse,” Crutchfield’s voice echoed around World Cafe to create an ethereal, chills-inducing sound that built to an anthemic conclusion. The catharsis found in the lyrics was tangible, finding release and relief for singer and audience alike. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: A rollercoaster ride with Imelda May

Imelda May – Free At Noon 6/23/17 | Photo by Rich McKie / WXPN

If it’s good enough for Bob Dylan, it’s sure as heck good enough for us. In an interview on his own website, the legendary singer/songwriter listed Imelda May‘s new record in the same breath as Iggy Pop, Valerie June and The Stereophonics – and boy do we understand why.

The Dublin-born singer took us on a musical and emotional roller coaster ride at today’s WXPN Free At Noon Concert at World Cafe Live. Though her complete 7 piece band preceded her stage entrance, May started off her set with “Call Me” – a peaceful song, with only a lightly strummed guitar complimenting her quiet voice. Sitting on a stool under a single spotlight, you could hear a pin drop in the room — perhaps leading many to expect a laid-back show on this rainy Friday afternoon — but Imelda soon showed she had much more up her sleeve. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Black Tears” by Imelda May featuring Jeff Beck

Imelda May

Irish singer and songwriter Imelda May plays Free At Noon this Friday, June 23rd, before playing a show at Union Transfer on Sunday, June 25th. Or her new album, Life. Love. Flesh. Blood., May has taken on a new musical direction, under the guidance of producer T-Bone Burnett.

She’s traded in her rockabilly musical ways for ballads and sophisticated mid-tempo love songs. Working with a core band that includes drummer Jay Bellerose, guitarist Marc Ribot, bassists Zach Dawes (The Last Shadow Puppets) and Dennis Crouch, May’s expressive and powerful voice remains center stage. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Sheer Mag’s volume knows no limits

Sheer Mag
Sheer Mag | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

The track names on Sheer Mag‘s compilation album are in all-caps on Bandcamp. The stylization is a fair choice considering it’s hard to remember, at least for me, a time when World Cafe Live has reached the volume the band brought to the venue during Friday’s weekly Free At Noon concert. For 40 minutes, the Philly rockers emitted nonstop, ear-ringing rock n’ roll in its purest form. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Kevin Morby highlights City Music ahead of a holiday weekend

Kevin Morby | Photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Recalling Glen Campbell’s elaborate outfits, Kevin Morby stood at the center of the World Cafe Live stage dressed in a white suit with a cascade of music notes down the side and rhinestone initials on the lapels.

It may seem a little goofy, but it’s all about balance with the Texas native: lighthearted and charming on the outside, deep and introspective on the inside. Both qualities were on display today as he and and his band joined the Free at Noon crowd in support of his forthcoming City Music effort.

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Free at Noon Flashback: Chris Kasper charms with folk traveller vibes at World Cafe Live

Chris Kasper | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Chris Kasper | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

“I heard people lost their relationship with the Earth the day we started wearing shoes.”

It was sentiments such as this that local folk fave Chris Kasper speckled throughout his performance this past rainy Friday afternoon in Philly. Though Kasper has been a staple and steady figure in the local folk scene for over a decade now, it’s hard to believe that he’s not some sort of wandering vagabond — endlessly traveling across the country with nothing but good vibes and a guitar strapped to his back. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Swift Technique gets us out of our funk with theirs

Swift Technique | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com
Swift Technique | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com

Sporting Sixer jerseys and worshiping stuffed penguins, local funk collective Swift Technique took over the World Cafe Live stage for a Free at Noon extravaganza of epic proportions, as the 10-piece (yes! your move The World Is…) brought out all stops to make their hometown return one to remember.

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Free at Noon Flashback: Hurray for the Riff Raff brings spirited folk to World Cafe Live

Hurray for the Riff Raff | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | <A href=http://www.spotlightviews.com/ target="_blank">spotlightviews.com</a>
Hurray for the Riff Raff | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN | spotlightviews.com

“When I left home at 17, I ended up in Philadelphia for a few months. You took very good care of me, so thank you.”

Hurray for the Riff Raff, the brainchild of singer-songwriter Alynda Lee Segarra, took the Free at Noon stage at World Cafe Live this afternoon for a vibrant performance of tracks from of their recent record The Navigator. Segarra and crew’s style of folk rock tunes has that bit of spirited flair, infusing Latin and indie roots to create an expansively personal sound.

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