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Free At Noon Flashback: Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers remind us that our best days are still ahead of us

Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Steel City native Joe Grushecky joined the Free At Noon crowd today to share some new songs off his latest release, More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows, and the seasoned rocker wowed the crowd with his charismatic new tunes and incredibly joyous Houserockers band. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Neko Case enchants the midday crowd at World Cafe Live

Neko Case | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | senialopez.photography

Singer-songwriter Neko Case is known as much for her work with The New Pornographers as she is for her seven solo albums, and today enchanted a packed house at World Cafe Live upstairs for the Free at Noon concert. Backed by a six-piece band, Neko wielded a Fender Jaguar, her coppery hair veiling her face. “Easy with the cameras…If you film me I’ll forget the words,” she warned. Beyond the firm request for no cameras, the she kept the stage banter to a minimum, moving fluidly through the set.

The band opened with “Man,” a tambourine-heavy song with country vibes that sneers with attitude, the perfect pick to get the crowd stomping. “Hell-On,” the title track of Neko’s latest album, is eerie and echoing. The lyrics weave a mystical setting as if plucked from the pages of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. “Halls of Sarah” is a wistful call in the dark, with wispy, layered vocals. “She didn’t ask to be your remake or your muse / We’re parasites inside her blues,” Neko sang, her voice toying with language, twisting vowels, sweet but never fragile. The set picked up speed toward the end, “Last Lion of Albion” the seam-splitting finale with heavy drum rolls and clanging cowbell.

Neko Case will play Festival Pier tonight, info and tickets hereContinue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Kacey Musgraves lights up the stage with her unique brand of country

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Later this very night, Kacey Musgraves will play on a much larger stage to a much larger crowd. But this afternoon, the rising country star was more than content to bring things down a notch and play a soft, intimate set to a crowd brimming with enthusiasm.

Before today’s performance even began, as a line of eager audience members filled the World Cafe Live stairs and spilled out the door, it became clear that this would not be your average Free at Noon. And if you were lucky enough to score a spot at today’s sold-out show, you had the rare chance to see Kacey Musgraves on what may just be the smallest stage you’ll ever see her. But even though the Texas native is accustomed to playing bigger shows these days — especially on her current arena tour with Harry Styles, which makes a stop at the Wells Fargo Center tonight — she seemed downright thrilled by venue’s homey feel and awestruck crowd.

Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Natalie Prass fuses neo-soul and power pop for a stripped down set

Natalie Prass | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Decked out in a sparkling yellow ensemble and backed by a full band, Natalie Prass performed songs from her new album The Future And The Past as well as some older songs. Prass opened with “The Fire,” a song that shows off her unique blend of neo-soul and power pop. Her music is full of infectious rhythms and on-a-dime key changes, expertly handled with her signature soprano. She mentioned the lack of their touring keyboardist, resulting in a more stripped-down set, but still perfectly and polished and executed with style. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Ruen Brothers debuts All My Shades of Blue at World Cafe Live

Ruen Brothers | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

The weekend kicked off with a Free At Noon set from The Ruen Brothers, siblings Henry and Rupert Stansall out of Scunthorpe, England. The brothers wore matching bolo ties over button up shirts, crossing midwestern cowboy with 60’s greaser. Their music is nostalgic rockabilly, twanging with grit. The brothers shared a mic, trading harmonies with faces at kissing distance. Colin, who Henry dubbed their “third brother from Detroit,” played drums, pausing between songs to adjust his black plastic eyeglasses. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Greg Sover is charismatic and commanding at World Cafe Live

Greg Sover | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Today’s Free at Noon thundered in with the powerful music of the blues/rock Greg Sover Band. Taking to the stage donning his signature steampunk jacket and flashing a charismatic smile, Sover shook any lingering lethargy from those in the audience in a contagious, energetic performance with his band. The crowd swayed and rocked while shifting psychedelic patterns were projected overhead. The magnetic Sover established an immediate rapport with the crowd, joking in between songs and taking a moment to thank WXPN’s Helen Leicht for spinning their tracks since the beginning. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: The National Reserve brings the heat to World Cafe Live

The National Reserve | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

On Friday afternoon, Brooklyn rockers The National Reserve brought a high energy set to World Cafe Live, filled with solos on the drums, keys, and guitars. The band opened on some older cuts, dropped a cover of Ronnie Lane’s “Roll on Babe,” slowed it down with “Don’t be Unkind” from their new full-length project Motel La Grange, which was released Friday. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Bahamas floats and shines through World Cafe Live

Bahamas | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

It’s nearly ninety degrees and sunny today in Philadelphia, and it feels as if summer is here to stay — ignoring the clear dad joke that all but writes itself, the sunshine and hazy heat perfectly embodied the feeling of Bahamas‘ sound during their Free At Noon show at World Cafe Live.

Bahamas’ Alfie Jurvanen began the performance on the tip of his toes, floating along with the light, breezy, rhythmically meditative and lyrically reflective set. Much of the set featured tracks from Earthtones, Bahamas’ fourth full-length record released earlier this year. Beginning with the simple, introspective “No Wrong,” Jurvanen showcased the album’s multifaceted sounds as he moved through the upbeat ‘No Expectations” and the funky “Opening Act.” Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: The Shacks put us in a Haze on this beautiful afternoon

The Shacks | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

New York indie band The Shacks stopped by for WXPN’s Free At Noon concert today, and their performance was mesmerizing. Right off the bat, the first thing I noticed when I was walking in, was 19-year-old lead singer Shannon Wise’s voice. I stopped midway through the entrance and actually blocked everyone behind me from getting in. Instantly, I was sent into a dream-like state where I felt like I was floating on a cloud with the sun softly hitting my face. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Hop Along powers through an record-release day teaser of Bark Your Head Off, Dog

Hop Along | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

It seems like Hop Along is the busiest band in the world these days. They’ve been steadily rolling out singles from their new album Bark Your Head Off, Dog since January, and today that new record is finally out. Lucky for us, ahead of their quickly sold-out record release show tomorrow night, the band found time to stop by World Cafe Live for the second act of today’s Free at Noon doubleheader.

Hop Along has been a favorite of the Philly scene for quite some time — as vocalist/guitarist Frances Quinlan pointed out, she’s been playing under some variation of the band’s name for about 13 years. “That’s as old as an eighth grader,” Quinlan said, adding that Hop Along is having a much better eighth grade year than she did.

And after today’s show, we can certainly confirm that. This was Hop Along’s first hometown show since their appearance at last year’s XPN Fest, and the first time we’ve heard songs from the incredible new record live. It was also their first time performing as a five-piece — the band recently added Thin Lips’ Chrissy Tashjian as their touring guitarist/keyboardist.

All of that made for quite a gripping performance. Continue reading →