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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 Towards end his set, Prince sung an unpublished track dedicated to his father, who passed a bit of time ago.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: 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: 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: 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 →

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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: Mt. Joy adds a heavy dose of vibe to its poppy, non-sequitur Americana

Mt. Joy | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

West Coast modern rockers Mt. Joy are best known for their easygoing tunes rooted in 70s folk and Americana. So seeing the band open their NonCOMM set bathed in deep blue and purple lights to a dramatic swell of atmospheric synthesizers and a spectral, tremolo-plucked ukulele was a minor curveball. Were we inexplicably transported to this time last year when Lo Moon brought their voluminous take on 80s keyboard gloss to the public radio masses on the very same stage?

Nah, never fear. As it turned out, Mt. Joy is still very much Mt. Joy, and as the live rendition of “Dirty Love” gave way to “Jenny Jenkins” and its various Lumineers-isms — a chanty wordless chorus, a foot-tapping beat, a plaintive vocal melody — it is clear that, to whatever extent this band embraces vibe, it’s rooted in pop first and foremost. 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: Jacob Banks stares into our souls with eyes shut tight

Jacob Banks | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | www.senialopez.photography

Jacob Banks rarely opens his eyes when he sings. He shuts them tight as he stands still; his sneaker-clad right foot poised slightly forward in prime defensive stance, while his sometimes fluid, sometimes erratic hand movements betray a small glimpse into the world he sees behind his eyelids.

That, as well as his booming, gravelly voice, of course. Etched and jagged, with persevering undertones of hope, Banks’ vocals welcome an intense vulnerability where burdens of pain and truth are laid bare — a kind of beautiful transparency that instantly fills you with an understanding that Jacob Banks was meant to be an artist. Continue reading →