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Recap: Beyonce, Phoenix, Public Enemy, Haim and more at Made In America day one

Beyonce | Photo by John Vettese
Beyonce | Photo by John Vettese
The opening day of the 2013 Made In America festival was jam packed with a wide variety of sounds and styles, from Haim kicking off the day at the festival’s Liberty Stage to EDM heavy hitter Porter Robinson making the crowd move on the Freedom Stage and tremendous headlining performance by Beyoncé.

Some of the amazing / exciting / unusual things we observed during the day: Philly’s Restorations rocked an impressive set on the Skate Park stage, with singer-guitarist Jon Loudon playing so hard that he cut his hand open and splattered blood all over his guitar. During Public Enemy‘s set, local teacher Heather Marcus was brought onstage to make an impassioned speech about the need to support public schools in Philadelphia. Alt-rock heros Imagine Dragons gave a propulsive, high-energy performance, while Phoenix delivered an impressive assortment of hits, deep cuts and bright stage lights. With all the Deadmau5 fans walking around the festival grounds during the day with imaginatively decorated mouse heads (one dude’s was done up like a disco ball), the Los Angeles via Toronto DJ’s set was a tremendous crescendo that set the stage well for Ms. Knowles’ incredible closing performance. Check out a massive photo recap in the gallery below, and follow XPN on Instagram to keep tabs on today’s action.

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Firefly Festival Day One Roundup: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avett Brothers, Public Enemy and more

Red Hot Chili Peppers | Photo by John Vettese
Red Hot Chili Peppers | Photo by John Vettese

Given the sheer volume of East Coast music fans descending upon Dover International Speedway for the Firefly Festival yesterday, it seems from chatting with other concertgoers that our experience was about par for the course. A few hours stuck in traffic along Route 1 and the DuPont Highway while the strains of Dr. Dog and Ellie Goulding piped up from the festival grounds, followed by an ultimate arrival and immediate ushering into an engrossing musical environment.

North Carolinian Brooklynites The Avett Brothers had just kicked off a stellar set at the Main Stage. This is their first local-ish appearance since The Carpenter came out last summer, and it was great to hear so much of the new album live. A set highlight was easily Chad Smith of Friday headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers joining the band on drums for “Paul Newman Vs. the Demons” (watch a video here), but it all sounded great, from “Live and Die” to “Gimmieakiss.” So excited for their Mann Center show in September.

Over at the Backyard Stage, Public Enemy delivered a raging performance of most of their 25-year-old landmark album It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back. Frontman Chuck D and hype man Flava Flav were ever charismatic, stopping the set at one point for Flav to hop behind the drumkit and play while Chuck tore up a harmonica solo. A hike across the festival grounds to the Lawn Stage and EDM kingpin Calvin Harris had a jam packed crowd swaying and dancing. Or not even dancing, so much – there wasn’t much room to move – but more of a mass of people bobbing up and down in bass-dropping musical ecstacy.

Classic Alternative headliners the Chili Peppers wrapped up the night with an impressive performance drawing mostly from the more recent end of the catalog. Guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, who joined the group before 2011′s I’m With You, is a tremendous addition to the band, since his energy matches and compliments legendary bassist Flea’s own spastic antics. It’s like having two Fleas onstage – which is great – and singer Anthony Kiedes (who TMZ addicts will note was reportedly fresh off a rumble with security in Philly) sounded energized for most of the set, or at least until his voice started to go right around “Under the Bridge.” Still, the crowd singalong vibes were amazing on that and on “Otherside”; their iconic cover of “Higher Ground” was a rager; and an extended encore jam of “Sir Psycho Sexy” was delightfully tripped out. Check out photos after the jump, and look for more tomorrow. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: XPN Welcomes Firefly Festival to Dover International Speedway, featuring Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Lumineers, MGMT, Kendrick Lamar and more

Photo by Clara Balzary
XPN welcomes the return of Firefly Festival to The Woodlands of Dover International Speedway on June 21st-23rd.  The line-up is huge this year, with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty and Foster the People headlining the multi-day festival and over sixty of the biggest established and rising acts in the country filling out the bill.  Firefly’s diverse bill includes Vampire Weekend, rapper Kendrick Lamar, Public Enemy, Philly’s Dr. Dog, The Walkmen and the Spinto Band, Ellie Goulding, The Avett Brothers, Passion Pit, Calvin Harris, Grizzly Bear, Toro Y Moi, ZZ Ward, Matt and Kim, Dispatch, and new favorites HAIM, Wild Belle and Foxygen. Check out videos of some of the bands we’re most excited to see this summer and go here to view the full line-up.  Tickets go on sale this Thursday, February 21st at noon; more information will be available here.

The Lumineers

Kendrick Lamar

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Loretta Lynn at Keswick Theatre, Public Enemy with Whodini at Liacouras Center, Arlo Guthrie at Scottish Rite, Matt Duke at Steel City, Graham Parker & The Rumour at TLA

The “First Lady of Country Music,” Loretta Lynn, will be gracing the stage at Keswick Theatre this evening. The Appalachian songstress’s last album, 2004′s Van Lear Rose, is one of more than sixty studio records Lynn has released since her first #1 hit in 1967, “Don’t Come Home A-Drinkin (With Lovin’ On Your Mind).” Tickets for tonight’s all-ages performance can be found here. Below, check out Lynn’s performance of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.”

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Guest Blogger: John Francis picks his favorite video jams

Singer-songwriter John Francis just released his new album, The Better Angels (which we recently featured as one of our local picks of the day). We asked John to do a little guest blogging for us and pick some of his favorite musicians—one song from each them and why he chose them. (John’s CD-release party is Friday, December 3rd at Tin Angel.)

Bruce Springsteen – “Streets Of Philadelphia”
“Receive me brother with your fateless kiss, or will we leave each other alone like this on the streets of Philadelphia?” Springsteen is one of my favorite artists and this song embodies why. He’s got that “human touch,” he speaks for us, and for people who have no voice, giving shape and texture and flesh to those often times intangible places inside each of us. In my years living in Philadelphia, I lived some of the lines in this song, as many of us have.

Public Enemy - “Can’t Truss It”
I love Chuck D cause he is a teacher. A historian, a truth-teller. The record ‘Fear of a Black Planet’ came out when I was in the 9th grade. The lessons in his lyrics confirmed my horrifying suspicions about American history and racism. Public Enemy’s story-songs are also a call to awareness and action. Thanks Chuck, it’s not easy to tell the truth, I’m grateful.

Johnny Cash – “Folsom Prison Blues”
This is Johnny Cash performing “Folsom Prison Blues” at San Quentin Prison with his band. This is why I love Johnny Cash and consider myself to be his student: “I wear the black for the poor and beaten down, livin’ on the hopeless hungry side of town. I wear it for the thousands who have died, believin’ that the Lord was on their side”. (From the song ‘Man in Black). He distilled all of his rage against injustice and his empathy for society’s outcasts into a singular symbol: wearing the color black. That’s why everyone from old guard Southern Baptists to tattoo covered punks with green hair can relate to Johnny, prisoners to presidents. He transcends because he is earthed in his own humanity and in all of humanity at large.

Bob Dylan – “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”
Shakespeare, Camus, Whitman, Twain…got nothin’ on this guy. I don’t trust anyone who dislikes Bob Dylan. Listen not just to the words, but the inflection and delivery. “He not busy being born is busy dieing.” What makes Dylan great is how he gets out of the way of the song.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe - “Up Above My Head”
One of my favorite singers / guitar players. She just lifts your spirit, doesn’t she? How about her guitar playing! Can I get an ‘amen’? Feel it?