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Wave-making M.I.A. induces chaos despite a modest crowd at Tower Theater

Back when Rihanna was still a bubbly pop star and Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana, there was another female rebel emerging on the scene, completely changing the game – and that was M.I.A. Emerging in 2004 with Piracy Funds Terrorism, an underground mixtape collaboratin with Diplo, M.I.A. really broke with the release of the stellar Arular in 2005. Before her, there was no female bridging the gap between rap, electronic and worldly beats, and a decade and a slew of controversial moves later, the British-Sri Lankan rapper is still here making waves.

On Friday evening M.I.A. made a stop at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby in support of her most recent album, Matangi. With some musical flops in recent years, I was hesitant about what the show would bring, especially given the thin crowd who showed up (to put it politely). Despite this, the Tower’s standing-room general admission area filled up nicely, and the energy in the room increased dramatically as M.I.A.’s start time drew closer, the mixed crowd of young fans chanting her name incessantly. Head to toe in a neon orange solid-colored sweatsuit, with hood up and shades on, M.I.A entered the stage, sat down at a table facing the crowd, and all hell broke loose.

With a lighting set-up nothing short of epileptic, and two dancers by her side all night, M.I.A. opened with the politically fueled track “The Message” off of Matangi. To my utter delight, the set was a fair mix of new and old music, the old including “U.R.A.Q.T” and “Amazon” from the 2005′s Arular, as well as “Bamboo Banga” and concluding with the easy crowd favorite “Paper Planes” from 2007′s Kala. The crowd reached major heights with the performance of “Y.A.L.A.”, a track from Matangi and a heavy favorite from the album, which is also featured on a Nissan commerical. M.I.A. was clearly vibing off of the energy of the room, who had all pushed up as close to the stage as humanly possible, shown when she invited all girls on stage for mixes of “Bad Girls” and “Born Free.”

The young, selfie-loving crowd provided palpable energy, and 38 year-old Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam matched it with power and flare, even stage diving into the center of the pit to everyone’s rampant delight. Despite the show ending by 10:30 p.m., it could have been the wee hours of the morning. All in all, no matter who or how many she’s performing for, M.I.A.’s still got it.

Below, check out a roundup of some of the best Instagrams from the show. Continue reading →

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XPN Welcomes Bryan Ferry at Tower Theater this fall

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

Fresh off his performance at Coachella, singer-songwriter Bryan Ferry has announced a fall tour that brings him to the Tower Theatre on October 4th. Before launching a solo career, Ferry rose to fame as the lead vocalist of ’70s art rock band Roxy Music who last reunited in 2010. His latest album The Jazz Age – big band re-imaginings of his back catalogue – hit shelves in 2012 and featured jazz renditions of Ferry’s work drawn from both his solo discography and Roxy Music. Now touring with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra, Ferry is back to share his music with fans worldwide. Get tickets here when they go onsale this Friday, April 25th at 10 a.m.

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Lorde announces North American tour, playing first-ever Philly show at Tower Theatre 3/8

Photo via www.facebook.com/lordemusic
Photo via www.facebook.com/lordemusic

Lorde is among us. Amidst topping year-end lists and receiving four Grammy nominations, the pop sensation has announced that she will embark on a North American tour in March. She released her widely successful debut album Pure Heroine in September as her smash hit single “Royals” dominated the charts and radio stations worldwide. Lorde will grace the Tower Theatre stage on March 8th. Watch her new video for “Team” below and get tickets when they go on sale this Friday.

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Watch Young the Giant’s video for new single “It’s About Time” (playing the Tower Theatre on 2/26)

Young the Giant | photo via www.facebook.com/youngthegiant
Young the Giant | photo via www.facebook.com/youngthegiant

California’s Young the Giant are back with a new album and a supporting tour.  Mind Over Matter will be released in January, following up their 2010 breakthrough self-titled debut.  ”It’s About Time,” the first single from the new LP, is a much less buoyant and danceable than their “My Body” and “Cough Syrup” hits, sonically walking a modern rock line.  In a recent interview with KROQ, the band talked about the inspiration for the new record and it’s core message of transcending small setbacks and keeping things in perspective (check it out here).  Tickets and information for Young the Giant’s upcoming show at the Tower Theatre on February 26th can be found here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Boom Room Studio’s first anniversary party, Zammuto at Johnny Brenda’s, Cheers Elephant and more at Maysie’s Farm Fest, Gotye at The Tower Theatre, Melody Gardot at The Merriam Theatre

Photo by Theresa McCullough | tresmackproductions.tumblr.com

To celebrate its one-year anniversary, Fishtown recording studio Boom Room has booked a monster of a show.  Headlined by hip hop group Camp Lo, The W.E. featuring R&B singer Jaguar Wright, psych-jazz trio Grimace Federation and Kuf Knotz, the event will have an outdoor stage, an indoor dance party and an after party.  Complementary food and beverages will be provided by Vitamin Water, Pabst Blue Ribbon and the Local 215 food truck so really, you have no excuse to not dance your feet off.  Tickets are $30 and can be purchased here for the 21+ party, which kicks off at 1:00 p.m.  Below, watch a promo video for Boom Room Studios.

Continue reading →

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Check out a new video interview with Ben Folds Five (playing Tower Theatre 10/7)

Billboard just released a new video interview with Ben Folds Five for their Track By Track video series. For this session, the band talks about each song on their new album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, their first full-length album together in thirteen years. The band gives us an insider’s look at the writing and recording process and how each song came together, including some surprising details, such how they were inspired by the Britney Spears song “Piece of Me” for their song “Erase Me.” The Sound of the Life of the Mind was released yesterday and is available for purchase here. Watch the full video interview below for more insider info on the new album.

Ben Folds Five will be playing the Tower Theatre on October 7th. Tickets and more information here.

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Just Announced: Of Monsters and Men to play the Tower Theatre in November

Icelandic folk-pop outfit Of Monsters and Men return to the Philadelphia area on November 24th for a show at the Tower Theatre.  The band’s debut album My Head is an Animal came out earlier this year following the international success of their foot-stomping single “Little Talks”.  Presale tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10am and are available through Of Monsters and Men’s store.  General sale tickets will be available on September 22nd through Ticketmaster.  Watch the mythical, cinematic video for “Little Talks” below.

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This Weekend: XPN Welcomes Dar Williams, Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, M. Ward, Esperanza Spalding

Regina Spektor


Dar Williams performs at 8 p.m. Friday, May 11th, at World Cafe Live At The Queen; tickets to the all-ages show are $31-$41.

 


Regina Spektor performs with Only Son at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 12th, at Tower Theatre; tickets to the all-ages show are $36-$74.

 


Ingrid Michaelson performs with Scars On 45 at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12th, at Electric Factory; tickets to the all-ages show are SOLD OUT.

 


M. Ward performs with Lee Ranaldo Band at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, May 12th, at Union Transfer; tickets to the all-ages show are $22-$25.

 


Esperanza Spalding performs at 8 p.m. Sunday, May 13th, at Electric Factory; tickets to the all-ages show are $30.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Miike Snow at Electric Factory, The Shins at Tower Theatre

Miike Snow is the ugly cute of electronic pop. It sounds great from far away; upon closer examination, there’s definitely something off—and yet, somehow that makes it more endearing.  The trio’s 2009 self-titled debut referenced bestiality in “Plastic Jungle”, dispelled a common misconception in “A Horse Is Not A Home,” and the chorus of “Burial” confessed to becoming a serial killer. This year’s Happy To You has been praised for sounding excellent, as could be expected from a trio in which two members are producers. Yet, the music video series that accompanies the album could not have been expected. With two videos out and more promised, the series features sets of twin girls from outer space who kidnap people and, using chain saws, surgically transform them into clones of a dancing super-human named Jean Noel. But it’s Miike Snow, so actually, this isn’t so surprising. Miike Snow performs with Penguin Prison at 8 p.m. at Electric Factory; tickets to the all-ages show are $25. —Naomi Shavin

A lot has happened in the five years since The Shins’ last album in 2007. The indie-rock band, centered on James Mercer, changed labels, lost every founding member of the band (sans Mercer), and then took a break while Mercer worked with Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton to form Broken Bells. And just when Shins fans were wondering if they’d ever see new material, Mercer returned with a new supporting band and a new album, Port Of Morrow, released last month. Morrow has a more polished sound, showing Mercer’s influence from Broken Bells, but it’s still a Shins album at heart with the jangly pop sound the band’s known for. Mercer plans to focus back on Broken Bells after the band finishes their tour, but hopefully that won’t mean another five years for the next Shins album. The Shins perform with Real Estate at 8 PM at the Tower Theatre; tickets to the all-ages show are $27.50-$45. —Nicole Soll

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Death Cab For Cutie at Tower Theatre

If any indie-pop act could win an award for being “Most Frequently Featured in Popular Culture,” Death Cab For Cutie would probably take the title. At first, it might seem surprising that an alt-rock band from Washington is highlighted so recurrently in mainstream media, but once your ears are exposed to the band’s catchy yet soothing sound, it’s easy to understand the appeal. Death Cab’s Grammy-nominated, emotive music has enhanced many profound scenes from popular dramas, including ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and NBC’s Parenthood, as well as numerous recent films. Not that receiving spotlight is a occurrence for the band; its music was often referenced and used in the teen soap opera The O.C. in the mid-2000’s. It’s clear that Death Cab For Cutie’s magnetism to pop-culture exposure is strong as ever. Death Cab For Cutie performs with Magik*Magik Orchestra and Low at 8 p.m. at Tower Theatre; tickets to the all-ages show are $40 – $45. —Lisa Henderson