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XPNFest Recap: Nicole Atkins gets dramatic on the Marina Stage

Nicole Atkins | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
Nicole Atkins | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

XPN sweetheart Nicole Atkins treated fans to a knockout performance on a sweltering Marina Stage.  Still riding high after the release of her recent Slow Phaser LP, the Atkins we saw today, clad in a floor-length white dress and colorful necklace, was the visual antithesis to the Atkins we saw at Non-COMM back in May.  Her set, though, was as strong as ever and by the end of set closer “The Tower,” she had the crowd in the palm of her hand.

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#XPNFest artist Nicole Atkins shares new animated video for “Who Killed the Moonlight”

Nicole Atkins | Photo by Cameron Pollack
Nicole Atkins | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Nicole Atikins put the task of creating a video for “Who Killed the Moonlight” in the hands of Ilinca Höpfner, an animator known worldwide for her work with Nick Cave and his side-project Grinderman.  The result, premiered this week on NPR Music, borrows its narrative from the song’s lyrics, which were adapted from a dream Atkins had while recording the album.  From Atkins:

“In the dream I lived next door to four magical and beautiful Sicilian sisters,” she writes. “They were preparing me for a wedding. As the night fell we went to the riverside to toast the new full moon with wine. As we toasted the moon slowly fell from the sky and landed in the river. Slowly flickering off and on like a light and dying. As it died, all the fish died, then the birds, then the air and everything with it. Yet [though] it was sad or scary, it was beautiful.”

Watch the clip below.  Nicole Atkins will perform at this month’s XPoNential Music Festival.  Tickets are on sale now here.

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Non-COMM Recap: Nicole Atkins turned on the glam downstairs

Nicole Atkins | Photo by Cameron Pollack
Nicole Atkins | Photo by Cameron Pollack

New Jersey native Nicole Atkins performed songs from her latest LP Slow Phaser, commanding the stage in a floor length black cape / gown ensemble with gold sequins and landing somewhere between Grace Slick and Florence Welch.  Atkins’ new material explores the depths of disco through alternating gothic, pop and psychedelic angles, a large step away from her earlier, folkier sound.  The crowd was happy to sing along with the chorus to “Cool People,” and danced right along with Atkins during the feel-good “Girl You Look Amazing,” two songs that hit at the core message of Slow Phaser both sonically and lyrically.  Check out photos below and listen to the set in its entirety here (via the WXPN media player).

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Weekender / Delco Pacers at Ortlieb’s , Oldermost at Boot and Saddle, Vacationer at Underground Arts and more

Philly Tapes Philly collaboration with Weekender and Delco Pacers | Photo by Wendy McCardle | wendymccardle.com
Philly Tapes Philly collaboration with Weekender and Delco Pacers | Photo by Wendy McCardle | wendymccardle.com

Local pop bands Weekender and Delco Pacers will hit the Ortlieb’s stage tonight in celebration of their collaborative mixtape, Philly Tapes Philly Volume 2. The first 50 people to the show will receive a free copy of the limited edition cassette. More details here.

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Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Hold Steady and more top the XPoNential Music Festival lineup

Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via rodgab.com
Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via rodgab.com

Dueling acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, eclectic New Orleans folk-blues combo Hurray for the Riff Raff, and stalwart rock n’ rollers The Hold Steady are just some of the 25 artists announced today in the full lineup of this year’s edition of the XPoNential Music Festival.

These acts will play the two stages in Wiggins Park from July 25th to July 27th of this year, alongside the festival’s headlining concerts at Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis and Dawes (July 26th) and Beck, Band of Horses and The Districts (July 27th).

Hurray for the Riff Raff | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com
Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

The Wiggins Park bill is filled with WXPN favorites, like alt-country heroes Old 97s, Jersey singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins and Diego Garcia, all of whom are return-XPNFest-ers.

There is also an assortment of up-and-coming names like countrified Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose (featured on World Cafe’s Sense of Place: Nashville series); Bear’s Den, a UK rock trio with a flair for drama (they made a splash at the March Edition of the Communion Club Night at Underground Arts), the jazzy / folky vocal combo Lake Street Dive and the art-pop powerhouse Lucius, (who knocked our socks off at Free at Noon late last year.)

Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

The greater Philadelphia scene is nicely represented as well. Bigger names like avant-garde rockers Man Man (who leaked their appearance last week), punk rock troubadour Dave Hause and reinvented folklorists Marah will mix with emerging artists Commonwealth Choir, Our Griffins, Marian Hill, The Lawsuits, Ginger Coyle and Viv and the Revival.

And adding an even more eclectic scope to the lineup is a taste of zydeco from C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band and some Mississippi blues care of harmonica master James Cotton.

Three days passes for new and renewing WXPN members are available now here. Tickets for the general public go on sale on May 1st; as with previous years, three-day passes will include lawn admission to the Susquehanna Bank Center shows (seated tickets to those are on sale separately, here and here).

Below, listen to a Spotify playlist of the Wiggins Park lineup, and read the complete list of artists after the jump.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Red Baraat at Underground Arts, Arc Iris and Nicole Atkins at Johnny Brenda’s, Hezekiah at MilkBoy and more

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

The rigorous rhythms and party atmosphere of Red Baraat stole the show at last summer’s XPoNential Music Festival, and they’ll return to town tonight for their Festival of Colors show at Underground Arts. Part of the band’s mission is celebrating bhangra music and introducing it to new audiences, and the motivation behind the Festival comes from a similar place. With featured openers Mandeep Sethi and Falu, Red Baraat wants to shine a spotlight on less-heard / less-seen South Asian artists in general. Read more in Shaun Brady’s writeup on the Festival, and get tickets and information at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Listen to Nicole Atkins’ new single “Girl You Look Amazing,” see her at Johnny Brenda’s in March

via Facebook.com/NicoleAtkinsOfficial

“This song actually came to me in a dream,” New Jersey bred singer songwriter Nicole Atkins talks to Paste about the new single, “Girl You Look Amazing.” ”It was being played in a big dance club and David Byrne was singing it.”

Premiered by Paste earlier this week, Atkins released the first track of her forthcoming album Slow Phaser, scheduled to come out February 4th via Oh’ Mercy Records. A seamless blend of late disco ambiance and raw country soul, Atkin’s simple lyrics really hit deep with any girl that may appear like she has everything together, but really is a mess inside. Check out the single for yourself below. Keep an eye out for Atkins during her headlining tour March 27th when she comes to Johnny Brenda’s.

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Watch the new Shaking Through with Brooklyn’s Invisible Familiars, curated by Nicole Atkins

Photo via Shaking Through
Photo via Shaking Through
The new episode of Shaking Through is by the Brooklyn band, Invisible Familiars, fronted by Jared Samuels. The episode was curated by Nicole Atkins, who sings backup vocals on the song. Below, watch the session video and download “Disturbing Wildlife” for free.

Shaking Through: Invisible Familiars from Weathervane Music on Vimeo.

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The unstoppable Eels play World Cafe Live with clowns, track suits (photos, review, video, setlist)

Saturday night’s sold out Eels show at World Cafe Live had plenty of oddball moments, from the sad clown singing tragic songs, to Mark Oliver Everett and the rest of his track-suited gang schticking it up for a solid hour and a half set.

The night started with a clown named Puddles meandering through the crowd with a old suitcase and lit lantern. He seemed to be looking for someone but never found them. He suddenly climbed on the stage from the crowd, placed his suitcase down and just stood at the microphone looking nervous. Then the house music stopped, the lights went down and Puddles Pity Party’s performance began. His voice was a strong while he sang sad tunes to minimal recordings about losing his past loves and being alone. Suddenly a guy in a dress wearing a monkey mask came out and sat at the front of the stage, eating bananas and making lewd gestures with them while throwing the peels into the crowd. Puddles never acknowledged the monkey-person though. All puddles did beside sing was dry his eyes with tissues during “Lonely Guy,” before leaving the stage the same way he came. He even did a crushing rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Really, it was hard to not feel sorry for the him – the performance felt real. Puddles Pity Party wasn’t gimmicky, it was truly moving.

New Jersey’s Nicole Atkins played next, but without her band. Her soulful, solo-guitar set was outstanding and seemed to make the crowd melt a little more with every song. “Cry Cry Cry,” from 2011’s Mondo Amore was a stand-out. She shared the new and unreleased “Red Ropes,” and wore her heart on shoulder as she sang surprisingly heartbroken songs.

Before Eels took the stage, the crowd was abuzz, knowing they were about to get a couple laughs and see one of the most tongue-in-cheek rock shows around. As the band walked out, they were greeted immediately by people yelling “The Chet!” – the guitarist in the band, and a fan favorite. They started their set just as their latest record, Wonderful, Glorious does, with “Bombs Away.” Then lead singer Everett, or E, hugged a band member. Then they played the next song from that record, “Kinda Fuzzy,” and E hugged another band member. He’d repeat this for the first four songs; later all five joined in a group hug. Continue reading →

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Tonight: Nicole Atkins at Tin Angel

Nicole AtkinsNicole Atkins doesn’t come off as your typical Jersey girl. With artfully two-toned hair and genre-bending anti-folk songs, the singer-songwriter offers the eclectic sensibility of a cultured metropolis dweller, an alternative to the celebrated (yet singular) stylings of other Garden State musicians. Atkins first gained recognition with her 2007 debut, Neptune City, and its major single, “Maybe Tonight.” Though the album was named after her hometown, the music, delightfully, did not sound like the soundtrack for a strip mall or tanning salon. Instead, Atkins did her state quite proud, offering a series of narratives that reflected the lives and untold stories of her neighbors. Her latest record, this year’s Mondo Amore, visits Atkins’ heightened songwriting ability and a wide range of stylistic arrangements—from the bluesy track “My Baby Don’t Lie,” to the closing ballad, “The Tower.” Nicole Atkins performs with Drew Mills at 8 p.m. at Tin Angel; tickets to the 21+ show are $14. —Marielle Mondon

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