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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: 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: Courtney Barnett gives the Free At Noon crowd a taste of what’s to come

Courtney Barnett | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Australian singer, songwriter and all around force of nature Courtney Barnett will release her highly anticipated new record Tell Me How You Really Feel this Friday, and she’ll headline Union Transfer tonight, but before all that, she stopped by NonCOMM to give us a preview of what’s to come.

Barnett’s appearance this afternoon was a long time coming for many in the audience — she was in Philadelphia last fall touring behind her collaborative project with Kurt Vile, and again to play guitar in her partner Jen Cloher’s band, but this is the first time we’ve seen her play solo material since the last album cycle (which included an appearance at #XPNFest 2015). For both die-hard Barnett fans and those of us who have been waiting for ages to see her (uh, me), today’s incredibly dynamic performance met, exceeded, and blew away any and all expectations.

Performing in trio form, Barnett and band delivered a fast-paced and powerful eight-song set to the midday crowd, alternating between the forthcoming record’s singles, brand new soon-to-be-released songs and some older favorites off 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett is a musician so essential to XPN listeners that sometimes it’s easy to forget she came from all the way across the world to perform here; when the band opened with Tell Me How You Really Feel track “City Looks Pretty,” it seemed that Barnett could easily have been singing about Philadelphia. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Titus Andronicus explosively kicks off Free at Noon

Titus Andronicus | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Midday host Helen Leicht took to the stage as the clock struck noon today, much like she does every Friday for WXPN’s traditional Free at Noon sets. Today’s midweek set was a special exception, however. To kick off NonCOMM’s run of Free at Noon sets, Leicht welcomed up Jersey-based punk rockers Titus Andronicus to the stage. Leicht prefaced the performance by noting the duo of Patrick Stickles on electric guitar and Alex Molini on keys would be performing an “acoustic” set. The following half hour would unfold as quite possibly the loudest acoustic set the Free at Noon crowd has witnessed to date. Continue reading →