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NonCOMM Recap: Editors use sheer energy to keep the crowd on its feet in the final stretch

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

By day four of NonCOMM, it’s not surprising that some of the crowd was beginning to feel a little weary. Some were already on planes or trains, heading back to their everyday lives, but plenty others stuck around, coffees and/or beers in hand, to catch the final two acts of this year’s convention.

After a perfect warmup set by Belly, British rockers Editors had the honor of closing out the party on the NPR Music stage. And party they did. Before the band came onstage, I overheard someone behind me in the audience say “Are you ready to rock?” I thought to myself, “Haven’t we been rocking all week?” But Editors, with their charismatic charm and songs that filled the room to the brim, seemed to almost redefine what it means to rock. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Belly keeps the crowd superconnected with old faves and new jams

Belly | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

On the surface, you could say that NonCOMM 2018 closed with a doubleheader Free At Noon concert from two different eras of nostalgia acts — one from the 90s (Belly) and one from the aughts (Editors). Thing is, though, both of these artists came with fresh material in tow, and Belly’s set in particular showed that they are musicians who have not missed a beat in the 23 years since their sophomore album King and this year’s radiant return Dove. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Angelique Kidjo returns Remain In Light to its roots

Angelique Kidjo | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Angelique Kidjo first heard the Talking Heads’ album Remain In Light after moving from her home country of Benin to Paris in 1983. The record, made a few years prior in collaboration with producer Brian Eno, found David Byrne and the band wholly embracing the sounds and styles of West African music, with Nigeria’s Fela Kuti being a major inspiration. But the Talking Heads’ idiosyncratic downtown NYC cool was still very much in the mix. As Kidjo recalled of her first experience with the record, “This is African, yet it’s got something that is turning my head upside down.”

Last year, the dynamic singer, songwriter and performer Kidjo began performing the album live in concert at venues like Carnegie Hall, putting her own spin on the Byrne-Eno spin on Afrobeat. The project was so well received, she recorded her own front-to-back version of the album, which is out June 8th on Kravenworks records. And on Thursday night, Kidjo and her four-piece band played many of the record’s songs in a lively close to night three of NonCOMM. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM recap: No worries for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Nathaniel Rateliff and the | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

It goes without saying that all of Denver-based Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats‘ most recent releases have all been radio hits. WXPN sure knows it. Second to last on night three’s downstairs stage, they delivered all new songs for a joyous thirty minute set. Fresh off the hype from their March album Tearing at the Seams, World Cafe’s Talia Schlanger introduced the band by saying that while she doesn’t like to play favorites, she is the most excited for their act. They’re due back in Philadelphia on June 6th to play The Skyline Stage at The Mann Center.

The band – a seven-piece consisting of brass, percussion, and electric string sections – took the stage before Rateliff to lead into “Shoe Boot,” a jumpy, quintessential country rock jam. Rateliff has a lot of layers to his music, and country isn’t the only defining genre. There were elements of a blues ballad in “Babe I Know,” 1960’s swing beats in “Say It Louder,” and a more relaxed indie sound with “Be There,” especially when the band cut out to simply clap out the rhythm for the final verse. Rateliff is a very multidimensional artist, but on top of everything else, he’s fun. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: The Record Company get down to business on the NPR Music stage

The Record Company | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

All I can say is lead man Chris Vos from LA’s bluesy rock band The Record Company is an animal. The trio hit the stage and got right to business with no hesitation. The intense energy and enthusiasm from the band’s righteous guitar licks, ferocious drumming, and killer harmonica solos had the crowd go crazy. Not to mention, Vos delivered some ridiculous falsettos that could be heard from the heavens. Bassist Alex Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla kept everything tight as the charismatic frontman was thrashing, giving the crowd some epic guitar solos. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM recap: The Wood Brothers shake the ground for night three

The Wood Brothers | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Nashville natives The Wood Brothers played an epic folk set to open the downstairs stage of NonCOMM’s night three. This folk powerhouse has just released their sixth studio album, One Drop of Truth, and plans on returning to Philadelphia on August 28th to play at Longwood Gardens.

This band is, in my opinion, the most unique group that has taken the NonCOMM stage, and after watching them jam for thirty minutes, they might be my favorite group of the whole fest. Night three is only just getting started, but they’re going to be a tough act to beat. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Brandi Carlile makes Free at Noon a family affair

Brandi Carlile | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Family, home, love, and forgiveness. These are the virtues interwoven in every powerful note of Brandi Carlile‘s music.

“I feel like it’s important to talk about my family in any format I can,” shared a beaming Carlile midway through her packed Free At Noon performance. Already having left the audience in awe after opening acapella-style with “The Eye” aside integral members, Phil and Tim Hanseroth, as well as shattering hatred with the shining 2018 powerhouse anthem, “The Joke,” — which ushered in a string section and backing band — Carlile took the time to acknowledge her love for her wife of almost six years, Catherine Shepherd, her four-year old daughter, Evangeline, and her new eight-week old daughter, Elijah. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Jade Bird delivers sassy Free at Noon performance

Jade Bird | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

British acoustic queen and Glassnote artist Jade Bird stopped by World Cafe Live this afternoon to play some songs from her powerhouse catalog. She is slight and unassuming, but the moment she starts speaking with that bright lilting voice and absolutely tears into her guitar, you know you’re in for something special. She has undeniable roots in country, but there’s something more, something almost unplaceable that makes her special. She is uniquely herself, and she isn’t afraid to show it. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Low Cut Connie closes the night with a warmup for their big Union Transfer gig

Low Cut Connie | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Rowdy, ribald retro rockers Low Cut Connie returned to NonCOMM to close out tonight’s lineup with piano-driven songs and crowd interaction. The band, led by South Philly’s Adam Weiner, dug back to 2012’s Call Me Sylvia for the opening “Boozophilia,” and repped their latest Dirty Pictures (Part 2) with the XPN staple “Beverly,” as well as “Oh Suzanne” and “Hey! Little Child.”

Saundra Williams of past NonCOMM artists Saun and Starr has been a touring member of the LCC crew for the past half a year, and shined in tonight’s set, handling backing vocals and auxiliary percussion with charisma. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Natalie Prass breaks out the disco ball in groovy set

Natalie Prass | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

If there’s one thing I learned from Natalie Prass’s NonCOMM set, it’s that she knows how to groove.

Playing new songs off her upcoming album, The Future And The Past, the performance ranged from slower, smoky jazz ballads (“Hot For the Mountain,”) to bluesy disco jams (“Sisters,”) and a funky pop party (“Short Court Style.”) Throughout each, Prass and her snazzy, jazzy band had a blast as they danced and smiled along to the infectious rhythm. Continue reading →