Written with my friend and seasoned Phish fan Pat James
Tuesday night’s Phish performance at the Mann Music Center was not only highly anticipated by the throngs of Delaware Valley Phaithful, but also viewed with cautious optimism, as an ominous forecast threatened to pour heavy rains and storms on the thousands of lawn and terrace attendees. Those present at the Mann shows a couple years ago will recall a similar event, where all those on the lawn were directed back to their vehicles until the storm had passed over. Perhaps coincidentally, the Mann Center remained out of the storm’s path, and the good times only rolled on from there. Sensing the anxiety from the unpleasant forecast, Phish provided its fans with an absolute treat in the first set, with many familiar favorites mixed in with covers, rarities and brand spanking new material.
A tight and energetic “Wilson” opened up the first set (with a brief “Character Zero” tease in the warm-up moments). Trey Anastasio seemed loose from the onset, with some nimble guitar fills during the Gamehendge classic. Next up was Son Seals cover “Funky Bitch,” which continued the great energy from the first song. This Mike Gordon-sung tune had the band in sync early and in my opinion portended well for the rest of the evening (a personal favorite). “No Men In No Man’s Land” is a funkified fan-favorite and provided the framework for the foursome’s first jam of the night. Keyboardist Page McConnell explored both his keyboard and organ set-up and Anastasio led a melodic and thoughtfully composed guitar solo. At the conclusion of this song, Trey addressed the Mann crowd and commented on how much the band enjoys playing under the impressive wood canopy (sure beats the E-Centre — and no I’m not giving credence to whatever bank has the current naming rights to the Camden amphitheater). Continue reading →
The Avett Brothers will headline the Mann Center tonight, previewing their forthcoming record True Sadness. It’s the band’s ninth studio record, so by now the brothers have developed a deep understanding of what makes them tick; Seth Avett detailed their influences, motives and thoughts in a letter earlier this spring, which you can read here. Listen to the title track below and pick up tickets for the all-ages show here.
Raitt will be touring for her most recent album Dig In Deep which was released on February 26th. Raitt will likely be playing a mix of timeless classics and new songs, such as XPN favorite, “Gypsy In Me.” Continue reading →
Lana Del Rey is basking in all her sweet sun-kissed glory in her new video for “West Coast” from the upcoming album Ultraviolence and everything is picture perfect. She frolics on the beach with her lover to the swaying melody but there has to be some sort of unbecoming disruption to it all that mirrors the track’s bluesy undertones, and there is. Watch Lana’s fiery fate below and get tickets to her show at The Mann this Sunday here.
Icelandic ethereal rock group Sigur Rós paid a visit to Philadelphia’s Mann Center this past Friday in support of their most recent record, Kveikur. Fans were treated to a beautiful evening, and more importantly, an incredible musical experience. Sigur Rós is unique in countless ways; the lyrics are (mostly) in Icelandic, they have complete brass and string sections, and their frontman, Jónsi Birgisson bows a guitar on nearly every one of their songs. What struck me about their live performance was the dichotomous nature of their music rhythmically, harmonically, vocally and compositionally. It is not often that I enter a concert with a simple interest in an artist’s work and leave craving more, though this was the case with Sigur Rós.
The band opened their set with the atmospheric “Yfirborð”, a song which, at its beginning, seems to burrow its way through a sonic underground before reaching its cadenced and rhythmic coda, all the while retaining the modulated timbre of a telephone call. They moved on to what might have been the most powerful song of the evening, “Brennisteinn.” This track, if none other, best captures the more driving and forceful sound they’ve introduced with their most recent record, Kveikur, and hit all the right notes in the live environment. The aforementioned multi-faceted nature of their music couldn’t have been more present; dissonance met melodiousness and dynamic rhythms were juxtaposed to moments of serene string interludes.
Another song that stood out was “Olsen Olsen”, a tune that appears on their first record, and whose string/brass refrain evoked an uncanny feeling of gratification. A couple songs later, I was delighted to hear “Stormur”, another track off Kveikur that exemplifies Birgisson’s ability to use his voice as no less than an instrument; perhaps it is that I, being an English speaker, take lyricism out of the equation, or that the instrumentality of his voice is somewhat of a mission statement of his. I couldn’t help but appreciate even Birgisson’s inward breaths as being of a deliberate musical essence.
Immediately following “Stormur” was “Sæglópur”, a song so formidable that I was convinced we were underwater, and appropriately so, the song’s title being Icelandic for “seafarer”. It was this power to instill emotion and feeling by which I was captivated listening to Sigur Rós’s music. It was their dynamic and compelling sound, Birgisson’s beautiful and mellifluous voice and bowed guitar that acted as a distinct yet completely organic sounding tie-in between songs that have won me over.
Opening for Sigur Rós was Julianna Barwick, whose avant-garde chordal arrangements were, at the very least, interesting. However, the ubiquity and lack of dimension in her music ended up being a real downfall, as a lot of the crowd seemed to lose interest relatively quickly. That is not to say, however, that I did not have an incredible time. In a mere few hours, my perception of a band was changed entirely for the better. Sigur Rós, you’re doing it right!
Keeping true to her meditative sound of layered voices and atmospheric acoustics, Julianna Barwick”s video for “One Half,” a song from her upcoming album, Nepenthe, finds her other half in an illusory state enhanced by her whispering vocals. Close ups of Barwick’s hand holding an elegantly decorative knife, eyes, and a Victorian dress are cut in between shots of her demolishing a small tower of flowers on top of fruit and drizzling icing. Barwick will be touring with Iceland’s ethereal post rock outfit, Sigur Ros, and will be opening for them at their Mann Center show, September 20th. Find more information and tickets for the September show here.
Watch the video for “One Half” below.