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NonCOMM Recap: Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm brings it home with guitar solos and soul

Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Bringing NonCOMM 2017 to a high energy close, veteran guitarist Robert Cray was joined by Hi Rhythm for an invigorating set of blues, soul and rock and roll.

Drawing from their new album Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm, the band was tight and energized, and Cray proved an understated but galvanizing leader of it — his presence was stoic on the verses, but emitted pure joy when he dipped into any of the set’s many guitar solos. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Hurray for the Riff Raff delivers a powerful, thought-provoking set

Hurray for the Riff Raff | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Drawing on a powerful set of songs from their new record The NavigatorHurray for the Riff Raff used its performance at the 17th annual NonCOMM-vention to make the crowd dance, to make it think and to make it feel.

Frontwoman Alynda Lee Segarra is a dynamic and charismatic force onstage, strumming her guitar to the twangy folk of opener “Life to Save,” then putting the instrument down, taking the the mic in her hand and getting her swagger on for the driving and shimmering dreampop of “Hungry Ghost.”

The songs were stylish and had tremendous energy, but also took on serious topics like gentrification and discrimination. “This next song is an immigrant song” said Seharra, introducing the slick groove of “Rican Beach.” Its lyrics were unflinching: “And they stole our neighbors, and they stole our streets /and they left us to die on the Rican Beach. You can take my life but don’t take my home.” Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: The Dream Syndicate show that fuzz-guitars still reign supreme

The Dream Syndicate | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Iconic indie rockers The Dream Syndicate gave the crowd a taste of exactly what was to await them from the very first chord of their NonCOMM night three set: utterly crunchy, fuzzed-out guitar jams.

It’s been thirty years since the band’s 1988 album Ghost Stories, but it seems like they picked up right where they left off. Don’t believe me? Tell that to guitarist, Jason Victor, who leapt right onto the tables in front of the stage during the band’s second song — strumming the heck out of his guitar amongst the crowd for an epic solo. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Lo Moon soars, dips, and flows through dreamy, ethereal set

Lo Moon | Photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Lo Moon had big shoes to fill when World Cafe host Talia Schlanger introduced the band — comparing their few month’s back set at Johnny Brenda’s to Genesis when they first hit the scene in the 70s.

Slinking on stage against red and blue lights, the ethereal and moody was set in an instant. This four-piece, mysterious band has totally got the whole cool, dark vibes thing down to a tee — but escape from that translating into a super blase, I-don’t-care-about-anything-because-I-wear-all-black-and-am-too-cool-for-school attitude. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: The Growlers make magic happen

The Growlers | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Among the many things that I love about NonCOMM each year is the tangible sense of magic in the air that’s just everywhere. From the joy of seeing old friends and favorite bands play to the joy of discovering a slamming new act, it’s all there. No band better captured that raw feeling of mystery and cautious optimism than The Growlers. Playing upstairs to an absolutely packed room, the SoCal-based band mixed elements of pulp noir and classic Americana to make NonCOMM magic come true. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Holly Macve recalls classic American country with showcase of Golden Eagle

Holly Macve | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

When Holly Macve begins singing, the sounds that come out recall golden country greats like Emmylou Harris and Patsy Cline; the songs on her 2017 Bella Union debut Golden Eagle evoke the classic Americana imagery of desolate, dusty roads and wide open skies. So it’s a bit of a surprise when, after opening number “Heartbreak Blues,” Macve thanks the audience in a British accent.

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NonCOMM Recap: Hot takes from The Music Meeting with Sean Coakley

The NonCOMM Music Meeting | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Radio industry pros, XPN listeners, and music nerds alike packed together this afternoon for NonCOMM’s annual Music Meeting. Hosted by Sean Coakley of Songlines, this exciting yearly tradition resembles a type of new music auction — where each crowd member becomes a judge armed with score cards, and votes on new or generally unknown songs presented by Coakley. Immediately after voting, members voice their opinions on their score choices, which results in unbarred, honest, and overall, incredibly entertaining responses. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band bring a funky revue to Free At Noon

Paul Schaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

Strutting to the stage with a funky and frenzied cover of Kool and the Gang’s “Hollywood Swinging,” long time late night television bandleader Paul Shaffer played a lively set with his combo of veteran players, The World’s Most Dangerous Band.

Made up of Felicia Collins on guitar, Anton Fig on drums, Will Lee on bass and Sid McGinnis on guitar, with horn players Tom Malone, Frank Greene, and Aaron Heick, the band blew through selections from their new covers record,The World’s Most Dangerous Party.

“The breakout star is Felicia Collins,”Shaffer told the crowd of his guitarist. “People don’t understand the magnitude of talent we’re dealing with here.” Continue reading →