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NonCOMM Recap: Sweet Spirit blows the roof off of World Cafe Live

 

Sweet Spirit | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Sweet Spirit are the powder keg of NonCOMM, just waiting to explode given the opportunity. Thursday night on the upstairs stage at World Cafe Live, the band had their chance. World Cafe host Talia Schlanger introduced the band by asking the crowd to feel their foreheads, received with confusion among the crowd. Schlanger followed it up quickly, saying “I guarantee you it will be dripping by the end.” She wasn’t wrong.

Early on in their set, Sweet Spirit entranced the crowd with the relatively tame 2015 track “Rebel Rebel.” In the back half of the song, bassist Jon Fichter lead the band in a campfire roundabout rendition of the track’s chorus, with the rest of the bandmates huddled around their mics repeating the chorus delayed. The building mash up of vocals launched the band into an explosive finale. Leading into “Baby When I Close My Eyes,” the band kept the tempo high throughout the rest of their set. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Hop Along display jaw-dropping range on the PRX stage

Hop Along | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Hometown heroes Hop Along have been doing laps around Philly lately. Since releasing Bark Your Head Off, Dog on April 6 on Saddle Creek, the band played a Free at Noon set that same day, a sold-out surprise show at Johnny Brenda’s the following night, and have returned to the city after the first leg of tour in support of their third LP. The band plays Union Transfer this Saturday, May 19, a gig that’s been sold out for a minute now. Thankfully after the month-long tour, the band was still able to deliver a kick-ass set to the upstairs NonCOMM crowd Thursday night. Lead singer Frances Quinlan noted how nice it was to be back in Philadelphia: “It’s lovely, we just got home from tour yesterday.”

The XPN faves opened with “How Simple,” the lead track on their latest release plus one of our favorite music videos of the year so far. The track’s grooving tempo lead the crowd into an early-set dance party. Among the other four tracks to be performed from Bark Your Head OffDog, “How Simple” displayed the new direction the band took with their fourth album. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: William Prince got real personal to kick off day three

William Prince | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Canadian folk singer-songwriter William Prince sings with his heart, and is not afraid to be vulnerable on stage. To kick off day three of the NonCOMM Convention, the Juno Award winner gave us a performance that hits ya right in the feels. His soulful vocals and storytelling skills made his performance so memorable. His music is inspired by all aspects of his life, and “Breathless” from his most recent album Earthly Days was one of the songs that truly depicted those raw feelings; he dedicated the song to his wife. Towards end his set, Prince sung an unpublished track dedicated to his father, who passed a bit of time ago. It was a soulful tear jerker that left my heart aching. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Jeff Rosenstock delivers politically charged, high energy set

Jeff Rosenstock | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Long Island rocker Jeff Rosenstock took the stage upstairs with a crazy amount of energy and a set of songs from his most recent solo release, POST-, which came out in January on Polyvinyl. In what seems like typical Rosenstock fashion, he arrived with just enough time to spare to start his set. Immediately after the band’s warmup, he addressed the eager crowd with: “This goes out to anyone listening who feels disgusted to live in a country that no longer represents you unless you are rich, white, or male. Thanks,” before jumping into “USA.”

Rosenstock is a blast to watch. He is messy. He is loud. He is pretty much insane. His lyrics are so weirdly on point, his guitar is heavy and fast and constant. The crowd absolutely loved every second of this set. He might have started the first ever NonCOMM mosh pit! Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Starcrawler takes the crowd from shock to smiles and back

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

I think it’s safe to say that Starcrawler isn’t your typical band to appear at a public radio event. No delicate and polished tunes here, folks. And I’m not sure that anyone in the audience of music people and dedicated radio listeners was ready for what Starcrawler would bring to the stage.

But shock quickly turned to smiles as the LA four-piece, fronted by Arrow de Wilde, shook things up this second day of NonCOMM. The band just released its self-titled debut album, and brought a steady selection of its fierce and driven — and loud — punk tunes. De Wilde and crew made full use of the small upstairs stage, pushing the limits of mic and guitar cords and pushing the audience out of their comfort zone and into a way better zone. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: White Denim mixes it up for night two

White Denim | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Austin, Texas rockers White Denim perfectly toes the line between alt, funk, and jam band. They’re a raucous hit and played the second slot upstairs at WXPN’s NonCOMM night two. It’s been a little while since we’ve seen White Denim, and you can catch them back in Philadelphia at Johnny Brenda’s on June 24th. They’ve also got a new album in the works, Performance, set for release on August 24th.

They opened their set tonight with a jumpy “Backseat Driver,” and the quick guitar, vibrating vocals, and perfect use of a synthy-sounding keyboard in the background set the stage for an instant good time. I knew this was going to be a good show. White Denim is the first jam-esque band we’ve had so far this NonCOMM, and they killed it. It was a riot to see people in the back dancing with each other to the infectious rhythms of every song. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Ricky Hell & The Voidboys jam econo on the PRX stage

Ricky Hell and the Voidboys | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Indoor sunglasses on a rainy day. Leather and leopard print. Screeching clarinet. These are just a few of the things Ricky Hell & The Voidboys brought to the stage tonight to kick off night 2 of NonCOMM.

As it turned out, that was exactly what was needed to lift the crowd’s spirits after the hours-long lull following today’s Free at Noon sets. The band’s name may be a riff on 70’s punk legends Richard Hell & The Voidoids, but Ricky and crew are shaping up to be pretty iconic in their own right. Though they formed just last year, the Cleveland band has already perfected their brand of high-powered, offbeat, energetic “gutter pop.”

Ricky Hell & The Voidboys released a self-titled album in March, and they brought several of its 13 short, punchy songs to World Cafe Life tonight for what may be the only set in NonCOMM history to run under schedule. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM recap: Gang of Youths drive out depression with guitars and a dance party

Gang of Youths | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

“We have one more seven minute depression fest for you,” David Le’aupepe, the Aussie-born lead singer of Gang of Youths, began as he introduced one of the last songs of the night. I thought he was kidding. Depressing? This was the most uplifting stuff I’d heard in a long time.

With a perpetually building beat, shredding guitars, and soaring vocals, Gang of Youths’ music doesn’t let you wallow in your sadness, it summons you to tackle it and turn it into a dance party. Which is exactly what the charismatic frontman demonstrated as he jumped into the crowd and brought the party to the dance floor during song “Let Me Down Easy.” Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Lucy Dacus brings Historian to World Cafe Live

Lucy Dacus | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Virginia native Lucy Dacus delivered an incredibly sophisticated performance, second to last on the upstairs stage for NONCOMM night one. Following the blowup success of 2018’s LP, Historian, it seems like the radio can’t get enough of her. Dacus was introduced tonight by NPR’s Bob Boilen, who called Historian his favorite album of the year.

Dacus’s set was amazingly smooth and well put-together. There were moments of incredible heaviness and incredible lightness, but the transitions between the two extremes was easy and effortless. She opened her set with her hit, “Addictions,” followed by “The Shell,” “Nonbeliever,” and “Timefighter.” During the latter especially, the crowd could not stop moving. The band really found its groove because they were pushing their time slow and definitely did not want to get off the stage yet. The guitar kicked it into high gear and the set instantly felt far from over. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Nilüfer Yanya brings a blend of London sounds to Philadelphia

Nilüfer Yanya | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

London singer-songwriter Nilüfer Yanya took the stage upstairs at World Cafe to showcase her impressive blend of lo-fi, indie, trip-hop, and jazz. Influenced by Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse and Pixies alike, the blend of references peeked out throughout the six-song set.

Yanya and company opened with the jazz-tinged breakup track “Thanks 4 Nothing,” one of her singles that helped land her on the map for many, as well as a previous Gotta Hear Song Of The Week. Another one of those landmark singles, 2017’s “Baby Luv” dazzled the crowd elsewhere in the set. The band’s stylistic tendencies resemble that of fellow Brit youths King Krule, a similarity others have noted before. Continue reading →