The Academy in Peril and Jocularity: Bill Murray, Jan Vogler and Friends live in Philly

Bill Murray, Jan Vogler & Friends: New Worlds at Kimmel Center | photo by John Vettese

The current theory behind all things “Bill Murray” is to expect the unexpected of the 67-year-old lion of comedy. Murray hangs out with Scandinavian students in Scotland and washes dishes. Murray visits Austin during South by Southwest and hits up house parties. Murray sends wild rice to a Charleston restaurant table filled with women with the caveat, “Don’t gobble it.” Murray crashes an engagement party and gets his photo taken with the betrotheds. Murray pops up at Oscar’s Tavern in Rittenhouse Square on leave from his son’s wedding. How odd then could a chamber-devised album (New Worlds) of recitations of the writings Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman and Mark Twain teamed with the compositions of Stephen Foster, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein be within that framework? Or a live performance art concert of those same musical moments at a damn-near-sold-out Academy of Music with forlorn cellist Jan Vogler, vexing violinist Mira Wang and prancing pianist Vanessa Perez? Continue reading →


A Study In Contrast: Damien Rice goes from a whisper to a scream in his long-awaited return to Philly

Damien Rice | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |
Damien Rice | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |

It’s been 7 years and 10 months and two weeks since Damien Rice last played Philadelphia. It’s taken him that long to release only his third album, My Favorite Faded Fantasy. The gorgeous Academy of Music was the perfect venue to host his return, reasonably large but still somehow intimate.

Rice is a study in contrast and dynamic range – emotional, audial and visual. He goes from a whisper to a scream, pure black to blinding sunlight and intimacy to fury in a click. Another thing about Rice is that no two concerts are ever the same. Each night brings a different set list, a different take on most of the songs. Where a track might be acoustic and off-mic one night, it might be a thunderous fuzz of ranting and feedback the next. A well-timed request can send everything in an entirely unexpected direction. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sufjan Stevens at The Academy of Music, SHLOHMO at Johnny Brenda’s, Delta Rae at The TLA and more

Sufjan Stevens
Sufjan Stevens | photo via

Celebrated indie-folk singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens makes a long awaited return to form on his current album and tour. Rather than being a zany holiday collection or an abstract electronic freakout, Carrie & Lowell is a return to Stevens’ contemplative acoustic roots, very much in the vein of 2004’s Seven Swans, and over the course of 11 songs it is an aching meditation on his mother who died in 2012. Tonight he returns to Philly to headline the Academy of Music and kick off his U.S. tour; tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →


This Weekend: XPN Welcomes Ryan Adams with Jessica Lea Mayfield, Jukebox The Ghost with The Spinto Band

XPN Welcomes Ryan Adams with Jessica Lea Mayfield at Academy Of Music (8 p.m., SOLD OUT) Click here to listen to his recent interview and performance on World Cafe with David Dye. During the episode, Adams discusses and performs tracks from his new acoustic album, Ashes & Fire, which he is currently touring in support of.

Also Playing: XPN Welcomes Sam Roberts Band + Zeus, Canadian Invasion at North Star Bar (9 p .m., 21+, $15); XPN Welcomes Marin Sexton at Sellersville Theater (8 p.m., $33–$45)


XPN Welcomes Jukebox The Ghost, The Spinto Band, and White Birds at Union Transfer (8 p.m., all ages, $12–$14) You can watch Jukebox The Ghost’s new video for the track “Half Crazy” off the band’s 2010 album, Everything Under The Sun; the video was shot in South Philly by local animation production company Juggling Wolf. You can check out White Bird’s recent Key Studio Session here.

Also Playing: XPN Welcomes The Roches: Suzy And Maggie Roche with a Holiday Twist at New Hope Winery (8 p.m., $30–$40)


XPN Welcomes the 6th Annual Lizanne Knott And Friends Philabundance Benefit at World Cafe Live (8 p.m., $10)


Weekend Picks: Noel Gallagher at The Academy Of Music, Kurt Vile at Union Transfer, Beirut at Electric Factory

Noel Gallagher has proven himself to be quite multifaceted. This past month, Gallagher released his self-titled, debut album, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds—which was met with anxious speculation from music critics who expected to hear Oasis-esque pop tunes. Yet, to some people’s surprise (and possible dismay) the music veers away from that of the Britpop sensation he was once a part of; the album leans more towards radio rock than the ballad-y pop heard in “Wonderwall.” He’s also maintained his reputation for thoughtful songwriting, allowing the album to rely heavily on his lyricism. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds does have a clear Oasis influence, but overall he has managed to disassociate himself with his fast-paced, tabloid-ridden past and create a sound all his own. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds performs with The Hours at 8 p.m. at the Academy of Music; tickets to the all-ages show are $25–$95.—Caitlyn Grabenstein

Also Playing: Purity Ring + Phonographiq at The Barbary (7 p.m., all ages, $10–$12); Wooden Shjips + Birds of Avalon, Moon Women at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $10); Manchester Orchestra + White Denim, The Dear Hunter at Electric Factory (8 p.m., $27); Cloud Nothings + Arches, It’s A King Thing at Johnny Brenda’s (9:30 p.m., 21+, $8–$10)

Kurt Vile’s lyrics are anything but coy. Songs off of his fourth full-length album, Smoke Ring For My Halo, are blunt and seemingly political, embodying an f***-the-man attitude. But, this past week, Vile’s response to the backlash he received for allowing his song to be in a Bank Of America commercial showed a different side of the local rock guitarist. Frankly put, he doesn’t have any interest in other people’s opinions; he’s simply a guy who is going to do what he wants. It might not have been the type of recognition he wanted, but it gave him an opportunity to clear a few things up. (At the very least, it got a few more people to pay attention to his music.) Kurt Vile might not be known for his poetic eloquence or anti-corporate politics, but he does have the ability to take the truth and throw it in your face. Kurt Vile performs with Blues Control and Far-Out Fangtooth at 8 p.m. at Union Transfer; tickets to the all-ages event are $14–$15. —Caitlyn Grabenstein

Also Playing: Fitz And The Tantrums + Walk The Moon at Theatre Of Living Arts (7 p.m., $32); Joan Baez at Keswick Theatre (8 p.m., $39–$59); Sharon Little + Julian Velard, Claire Wadsworth at Milkboy Philly (8:30 p.m., 21+, $12–$15)

Just when you expected Beirut’s Zach Condon to write more music based on esoteric traveling adventures, he didn’t. Though acclaimed for his arty Francophile persona in 2007’s The Flying Club Cup and later for his wanderings in the creative hub of Oaxaca, Mexico in 2009’s March Of The Zapotec, Condon has now translated his eclectic indie-meets-world music to the more hometown-inspired sounds of Beirut’s latest album, The Rip Tide. The first sign that this record isn’t as inspired by distant travels? It’s first single, “Santa Fe,” which is named after the very town where the first form of Beirut was conceived five years ago. As a result, The Rip Tide offers a more approachable—one might daresay mainstream—alternative to Beirut’s past records. The Rip Tide isn’t completely stripped of all former eccentricities, though; between accordion-driven ballads and brassy melodies, Condon clearly can’t shake off the aftertaste of his wanderlust. Beirut performs with Basia Bulat at 8 p.m. at the Electric Factory; tickets to the all-ages show are $30.95 ($25 ticket + US $5.95 fees). —Marielle Mondon

Also Playing: Trombone Shorty And Orleans Avenue at Union Transfer (8:30 p.m., all ages, $25); Office Of Future Plans + The Young, BELLS? at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $10)