By

Free at Noon Flashback: Sunflower Bean discovers afternoon rock at World Cafe Live

Sunflower Bean | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s official, the consensus is in: afternoon rock shows are the best. Of course, the Free at Noon crowd has always known that, but it’s great to hear that Sunflower Bean agrees. When the band took the World Cafe Live stage this afternoon ahead of their sold-out show tonight at Everybody Hits, their surprise at the size and enthusiasm of the crowd was palpable. After kicking off their set with “Easier Said,” lead singer and bassist Julia Cumming wondered aloud, “Don’t you guys have anywhere to be?” The audience’s response — that they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else — was all the affirmation Sunflower Bean needed to pour a wild amount of infectious energy into their set. Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Ben Arnold and the 48 Hour Orchestra break through the clouds with soulful jams

Ben Arnold | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

To kick off 2018 and the 13th year of WXPN’s Free at Noon concert series, long-time friend Ben Arnold, who is no stranger to World Cafe Live’s stage, performed a sleek and soulful set despite the abysmal weather currently inhabiting Philadelphia. Appearing in the Free at Noon series in its first year as a trio, the Philly-native returned with a backing band 10 members deep this time around. Dubbed “The 48 Hour Orchestra,” the band provided a spirited brass section, punchy drums assisted by congas, and heartfelt backing vocals to the set. Continue reading →

By

Free At Noon Flashback: Slowey and the Boats says “Mele Kalikimaka” to a festive World Cafe Live crowd

Slowey and the Boats | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philadelphia-based Hawaiian-inspired combo Slowey and the Boats took the World Cafe Live stage today, bringing seasons’ greetings and Christmas kitsch to the Free at Noon faithful.

Leading the band behind a light-up banner emblazoned with their name, steel guitar player Isaac Stanford smoothly plucked out the vocal melodies to instrumental renditions of holiday favorites like “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas,” “White Christmas” and more. Joining him were Mike Hlatky on bass, Mike Pietrusko on drums, Nate Skiles on guitar and David Streim on Wurlitzer.   Continue reading →

By

Free At Noon Flashback: Ted Leo brings The Pharmacists along for a revved up, reflective set

Ted Leo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Things I was not expecting when arriving at work today: that it would be snowing by mid-day. That Jersey indie rock vet Ted Leo would have his longtime band The Pharmacists in tow for today’s Free at Noon set. That I would be screaming along to “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” while attempting to shoot photos and not bump into the people around me too drastically. (Sorry, everyone.)

It’s true, Leo’s been on the road with this remarkable group of players — multi-instrumentalist James Canty, saxophone player and vocalist Adrienne Berry, drummer Chris Wilson, guitarist and singer Ralph Darden and bassist Marty Violence — since September, in support of his new record The Hanged Man. And the album is his first released under his own name, versus the standard “and the Pharmacists” credit…so the billing I read versus the performance I saw should not have totally caught me unawares. Continue reading →

By

It’s a Lame-O afternoon this Friday when Slaughter Beach, Dog and Cherry play WXPN’s Free at Noon

Slaughter Beach, Dog and Cherry | via xpn.org

A show like this Friday’s Free at Noon doesn’t come along every week — not only is this week’s concert a rare doubleheader, it’s also a chance to see performances by two of Philly’s best local acts together in one place — and at lunchtime, nonetheless. Slaughter Beach, Dog and Cherry will both perform, and while they’re each fixtures of the Philly scene on their own, lately their careers have been running parallel: both artists released debut LPs in October, and both played Lame-O Records‘ 5th birthday showcase a few weeks back. Continue reading →

By

Free At Noon Flashback: Dhani Harrison’s guitar doesn’t weep, it wails

Dhani Harrison | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

A slice (of a slice) of Beatlemania descended upon 31st and Walnut on this pleasantly frigid Friday as the crowd that had lined the street shed their layers and traded in coffees for beers, fortunate to be among the few to have secured a spot at a show that had sold out days before. Nothing less could be expected for Dhani Harrison, and this boundless enthusiasm never wavered during his Free At Noon set – the applause heard after each song was near equivalent to what another band might expect to earn after their final bows. Continue reading →

By

Free At Noon Flashback: Nick Hakim, soul machine, introduces himself to World Cafe Live

Nick Hakim | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Sensual funkiness: a combination of words I’d never expect to throw together but that fully encapsulates the sound of Nick Hakim and his four-piece backing band during today’s Free At Noon performance. The New York-based artist released his debut full-length Green Twins in May and wrapped up a US headlining tour in Seattle on Tuesday, and beginning next week he can be found opening for Fleet Foxes during the European leg of their Crack-Up tour. Continue reading →

By

Free At Noon Flashback: Rostam delivers expansive experience with Half-Light

Rostam | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Rostam Batmanglij released his debut LP Half-Light on September 15th, and to say that it was a long time coming is a definite understatement. It was six years ago this month that Rostam’s first solo track – and now Half-Light track – “Wood” was released on Soundcloud, as his band Vampire Weekend recorded their chart-topping Modern Vampires of the City. 

The years since have seen Rostam leave Vampire Weekend in 2016 to pursue solo work, produce tracks on a number of records for genre-spanning artists from Solange to Carly Rae Jepson to Hamilton Leithauser, and all the while steadily release singles that would eventually become his solo debut.

Half-Light is fifteen tracks of mystical, musical magic, and at today’s Free At Noon show Rostam performed seven of them (plus a bonus Vampire Weekend cover). Continue reading →

By

Free At Noon Flashback: Josh Ritter celebrates his new Gathering at World Cafe Live

Josh Ritter | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Friday was a big day for Josh Ritter: it marked the official release of his ninth studio album Gathering following 2015’s excellent Sermon on the Rocks, and he and the Royal City Band were able to bring their foot-stomping, fast-talking tunes to World Cafe Live before flying to Minneapolis to kick off the record’s tour.

The singer-songwriter has long been a favorite of XPN and its members, and the crowd that had been steadily lining up outside quickly filled the venue to capacity in anticipation of his triumphant return. As one of the audience observed, “Nothing like Josh Ritter to get the people out of the woodwork.” Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Son Little gives the Philly crowd an early taste of New Magic

Son Little | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

A hometown crowd packed World Cafe Live late this morning for a hometown hero of sorts. Son Little, the project of singer and guitarist Aaron Livingston, is a local favorite for Philly audiences, and the artist himself seemed right at home during today’s Free at Noon. After opening the set with a few new songs from his forthcoming album New Magic, Son Little welcomed the crowd, which had lined up outside well before doors opened and flocked closer and closer to the stage as the show went on, clapping and dancing along. Continue reading →