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Anderson. Paak and The Free Nationals bring the funk to the Fillmore Philly

Anderson .Paak | photo by Lissa Alicia for WXPN

Think about the first time Anderson .Paak‘s music caught your ear. Where you at Venice when you heard “Might Be” on the radio? Did you catch the Holy Ghost the first time you heard Yes Lawd? Was it after experiencing strawberry season in Malibu or perhaps you finally became a fan while walking down Saviers Road in his hometown of Oxnard?

No matter when and where you discovered him, the one thing that has never changed is that the Grammy Award singer, rapper, producer, and drummer is also an amazing performer. This past Sunday at The Fillmore, Anderson. Paak along with his good friends and his incredible band, Free Nationals, gave Philadelphia a soulful west coast funky performance during his Andy’s Beach Club World Tour. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: The Lemonheads will bring new Varshons covers LP to The Foundry

The Lemonheads | photo by Michel van Collenburg | courtesy of the artist

In addition to being an expert songwriter in his own right, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads is also a skilled interpreter of songs, as we saw on its 2009 covers album Varshons. Ten years later, Dando revives the project for Varshons 2, out this Friday on Fire Records, and a tour that brings him — as well as tourmate and legend-in-his-own-right Tommy Stinson — to The Foundry of The Fillmore Philly and The Chameleon Club in Lancaster this June. Continue reading →

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Kacey Musgraves brings love, smoothness, and even an engagement to The Fillmore

Kacey Musgraves | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

Having witnessed the magic of East Texan singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves on an earlier turn through Philly country (the Trocadero, 2015), there were certain elements of her live showcase that I was prepared for when she hit the stage at the Fillmore for a waaaay sold out gig on Friday night. That she would be sassy and foul mouthed. That her well-dressed band would hit any joint passed up to the stage from the audience. That she would chattily interact with the audience. That there would be hats, and not all of them cowboy. That she and her ensemble would spend lots of time backlit and in the dark so to create an air of mystery that has little to do with her forthright songwriting skills and salted caramel vocals.

Touring then after the release of the sugar honky tonk modern classic, Pageant Material, required all toes and several fingers tucked into the tones of traditional country, skiffle rhythm and rockabilly to go with her sophisti-cosmopolitan take on C&W pop.

What a difference, however, several years, emotional and aesthetic growth and maturation, marriage, a shimmering new Golden Hour, and Grammy noms for Album of the Year make. The Musgraves & Co. that took that Fillmore stage on Friday night were a smoother, shinier lot with far fewer detours like the raw “Family Is Family,” the acoustic fairy tale “Merry Go ‘Round,” and the tender lyrical pragmatism of “We get bored, so we get married / Just like dust, we settle in this town.”

What was the order of the night — played to a super hyped-crowd, several ‘rainbow yeehah’ fans up front, and even a marriage proposal in VIP (congrats Navy serviceman Daniel Caton and Avery Davis) — was a set of love and like songs that was gentler, smoother, sleeker and even in tone. Continue reading →

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Ben Howard shows a new side of himself on his new album Noondays Dream after a four year hiatus

Ben Howard
Ben Howard | photo courtesy of the artist

Following his 2014 record, I Forget Where We Were, English folk / rock singer-songwriter Ben Howard released his third full-length album titled Noonday Dream via Island Records. It’s been four years, and the self-produced album was well worth the wait. Of course, nothing could ever beat his past work like his double platinum 2011 record Every Kingdom. However, that is not his intent for Noonday Dream. The album is not meant to mimic that nostalgic sound that got fans hook, but rather to take a step in a new direction. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Leon Bridges will play a second night The Fillmore after selling out first show

Leon Bridges | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN

There’s just something about 26 year-old R&B singer Leon Bridges that makes you go weak, in a good way. That’s probably why his Philly show sold out so quickly, but no worries! Leon Bridges has just added a second show on October 1st at the Fillmore. Now, those who didn’t get a ticket the first time around will be able to experience Bridges’s soulful voice that will have your heart throbbing to every beat. Continue reading →

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Less War, More Leisure: Miguel holds court at The Fillmore Philadelphia

Miguel | photo by Lissa Alicia for WXPN

I first saw Miguel Jontel Pimentel at South by Southwest, what feels like a very long six years ago. Back then, he was a promising but relatively conventional second-string R&B hitmaker – though already (unbeknownst to us at the time) in the midst of a metamorphosis that would lead him to the dazzling creative breakthrough of his second album, Kaleidoscope Dream. But even at that early stage, his nascent star power was blinding, and blindingly obvious. Some time later, mostly by happenstance, I caught the livestream of his set at Pitchfork Festival during the summer long hot of 2016 – just about a week after the deaths in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas – and witnessed the singer, dressed in angelic white, seizing an emotionally fraught historic moment and channeling it into an empowering, healing and utterly captivating performance.

Last night’s show at the Fillmore offered neither the thrill of discovery and sense of limitless possibility of that 2012 showcase set, nor the urgent topicality, coherence and moral force of the Pitchfork performance. But it didn’t need them. Even as nothing wilder than a seasoned working entertainer, punching in for another showbiz night, Miguel is among the best in the business. Throughout a generous twenty-plus-song set that drew from each of his four albums – including almost the entirety of his most recent, last year’s War and Leisure – he held the enthusiastic crowd in the palm of his hand all night long. Continue reading →

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Future Perfect: Future Islands Break It Down at the Fillmore

Future Islands | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

This kinda thing doesn’t happen by accident. A band like Baltimore’s Future Islands doesn’t go from under-the-radar to overnight sensation without putting in the legwork. And while frontman Samuel T. Herring does put in a lot of literal leg-work with his wild dance maneuvers on stage, the band’s path to the huge stage at the Fillmore on Monday evening took more than a fair share of emotional lifting, as well. New release The Far Field (out last month on 4AD) plays out less as a breakup record than a forlorn catalog of Herring’s sins.

With a bombastic legacy of hits and smashing live performances to live up to, a down note might not have been what newcoming and long-lived fans were looking for. But seeing is, as they say, believing. For many, the infamous 2014 Letterman performance remains both introduction and centerpiece of the Future Islands brand. But three years removed, many now know the band — and the bombastic frontman — as something more three-dimensional than simply a great showman. While the dance moves perpetually continue to impress, they seem a little bit less pronounced than the twin sold-out shows I saw at Union Transfer in early 2015. Continue reading →

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It’s springtime in Fishtown as The Decemberists hold court at The Fillmore

The Decemberists | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN
The Decemberists | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN

A packed crowd at The Fillmore stalked the stage, awaiting Colin Meloy and the rest of The Decemberists’ circus-like performance, full of tongue twisted lyrics and fantasy. Touring on their What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World LP from 2015, old fans were shouting for earlier favorites like “Red Right Ankle” and “The Chimbley Sweep.” After opening with a passionate “Crane Wife” parts 1, 2, and 3, everyone was at ease. Continue reading →

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Church of Psychedelic Soul: Jim James makes The Fillmore Eternally Even

Jim James | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN | katemccannphotography.com
Jim James | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN | katemccannphotography.com

It was a packed house last night for My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James at The Fillmore Philadelphia. Touring on his new album, Eternally Even, he played many of his inherently spiritual, yet psychedelic, songs accompanied by his unmistakable voice.

James played a 90-minute set plus a 30-minute encore, whipping his hair around during all guitar solos, donned in a suit and sunglasses, as always. The light show accompanying the band had the color spectrum of a Phish show, but with the nuance of a contemporary art installation. It really felt like some millennial-filled church, with all eyes drawn to the worshiped James, as soft lights flickered like stars of the lid. Continue reading →