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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Vita and the Woolf at Ortliebs, Dylan Jane at Kung Fu Necktie, Paolo Nutini at The Trocadero

Vita and the Woolf | Photo by John Vettese
Vita and the Woolf | Photo by John Vettese

Philadelphia’s newest electric soul-pop group Vita and the Woolf head to Ortlieb’s tonight for their EP release show. Frontwoman Jen Pague is expected to impress the crowd with her dynamic vocal range on tracks such as the passionate “Mary” and the circus-inspired “Slipping Hills,” both tunes off of their Fang Song EP, released on Tuesday. The eight-track record is result of Prague’s dedicated two years of writing. For tickets and more information head over to the XPN Concert Calender. Below, check out the eerie video for “Mary”, or click here to revisit their incredible Key Studio Session. Continue reading →

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Kicking back with Vita and the Woolf at Spice House Sound

Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Jen Pague and Bobby Cleveland of Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

On one of the last warm days this summer, I ventured past my usual points of familiarity in Fishtown to the newly opened Spice House Sound on Wilt Street. Suddenly finding myself somewhat lost in a tiny alley next to St. Laurentius, I stare at the address on my phone again and frantically call Jen Pague, frontwoman of Vita and the Woolf, explaining I think I’m at the wrong place. She laughs and tells me to stay where I am.  Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Vita and the Woolf, Dr. Dog, Tori Amos

Vita and the Woolf
Vita and the Woolf | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

This week’s Key Studio Session featured art-pop outfit Vita and the Woolf, giving us a preview of its forthcoming EP Fang Song along with even newer songs not on the EP.  The band will celebrate the EP’s release at Ortlieb’s on September 20th.  Check out “Mary” below and get the full set here.

Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Vita and the Woolf

Photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Philly art-pop trio Vita and the Woolf is going to knock you out. The band is about to release it’s vibrant, eclectic debut EP Fang Song, and it’s super-impressive for a first release, a sophisticated collection of songs that can be anthemic and expressive (the winning “Mary”) in the same breath that it’s quiet and withdrawn (“Song For Pedro”). But what’s most exciting is the way the band’s best work is clearly ahead of it. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Verbatum Jones at The Fire, Phreak N Queer Kickoff with Vita and the Woolf and more at PhilaMOCA, Philly Tapes Philly at Ortlieb’s, and more

Verbatum Jones | photo via facebook.com/verbatum
Verbatum Jones | photo via facebook.com/verbatum

Philly rapper Verbatum Jones kicks off tonight’s concert pick selection with his show at The Fire on Girard Avenue. You may remember this article we posted back in March about the Brooklyn transplant’s latest album .winter, which goes in depth about the meaning behind his hit song “Everybody Eats.” Our writer Sameer Rao also talked with him about how his Haitian background has impacted his life and songwriting, and starting a concert series in which the the only price of admission was a food donation. If you missed it, check it out here. Speaking of food donations (in a different kind of way), make sure you get to the show early enough for free water ice. Check out the music video for “The Dawn” below. Continue reading →

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Get hype for the fourth Phreak N Queer Festival, kicking off at PhilaMOCA on 7/31

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese

The annual Phreak ‘N Queer Arts and Music Festival will be returning July 31st to August 3rd. The festival, now in its fourth year, serves to highlight art, music and culture in the LGBT community.  Events range from visual art to burlesque to poetry and, of course, a variety of concerts. In order to get a sense of the show, you can listen to the killer mixtape  by Homoground here. Below, get more details about some of the local highlights from the opening night.

First, there’s the impressive duo Vita and the Woolf. Vita recently played a stellar solo show this week, to much praise. The group just released their first single, “Mary” and it’s a thrilling, art-pop anthem. Jennifer Pague’s powerful vocals, similar to Florence Welch, are enchanting. Their EP, Fang Song will be out September 20th. Listen to “Mary” below.

Another powerful female artist is Camae Defstar of the hiphop rebels The Mighty Paradocs, performing under her solo project as Moor Mother Goddess. Continue reading →

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Enchanting the Ortlieb’s regulars with Aphra and Vita and the Woolf

Aphra | Photo by John Vettese
Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf dances to Aphra | Photo by John Vettese

If you’ve ever gone to a concert, you’ve no doubt heard clapping.

I’m not talking about the kind that comes at the end of a song, but the kind that comes during – an audience fervently clapping along to the beat. Happens pretty regularly, right? How about this: when was the last time you heard an audience keep those claps up beyond the first verse? Usually once the beat kicks in or the refrain come around, the hands fall and the crowd just sways or stands there. It makes sense; your fingers start to sting, or your arms start to ache, or you start to feel self-conscious when you realize how many people around you are no longer doing it. Maybe a handful of times a year, at concerts with a really devoted fan base, do I see the clap-percussion continue into the middle of a song, and even then it peters out.

Vita and the Woolf | Photo by John Vettese
Vita and the Woolf | Photo by John Vettese

Taking it a step further: have you ever heard an artist get their audience clapping along to a song, and continue clapping for the entire thing – verse / chorus / verse / chorus / bridge / chorus / coda? I’ve been going to concerts for 20 years and had never seen this phenomenon occur prior to last night, when Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf played a solo set at Ortlieb’s.

To give a bit of context: the eclectic art-pop tones of Vita have captured our collective ear over here at WXPN, and for good reason. The band’s first single “Mary” is a rousing anthem that fills a void Florence and the Machine left in my listening habits. Stopping right there, let’s acknowledge that Pague probably gets this comparison all the time, is probably sick of it and possibly not even directly influenced by FloMac – but as a singer, she is undeniably strong and dynamic, a personality that is not timid in the least. Woman knows how to sing out, and sing out she does, whether backed by intricate and imaginative musical layers on the forthcoming Fang Song EP, or solo with a piano, as we saw her last night.

There’s more to Vita and the Woolf than the hyperdramatics that Florence Welch is known for, of course; the album (and her set) have more subdued moments that recall Beirut and Espers. Those songs are sweet, no doubt, but the ones that capture the energy of a room are the anthems. Which brings us to the clapping.

Pague launched into a solo piano of a song called “Mm Chka Mm” last night, and it was a rager. As the title alludes, this is a beat-oriented piece of music, and without her drummer, the song needed something driving it. So she urged the group of fans and friends clustered at the foot of the Ortlieb’s stage to give her a beat. They did. And the kept going. After the first refrain, I could hear that many clappers dropped off, and braced myself for the familiar pattern of trickle-off crowd participation. It didn’t happen. The claps swelled in volume again, dipped up and down but didn’t waver, even at their quietest.

Vita and the Woolf | Photo by John Vettese
Vita and the Woolf | Photo by John Vettese

By the time we passed the second refrain, I started thinking “Is this going to continue all the way to the end?” I don’t know how many people watching were conscious of what was happening – maybe this is an uber-nerdy thing of me to notice, and I thank you, dear reader, if you’ve stuck with me this far. But when we neared the home stretch, the thing that gave it that final push and momentum came from the unlikeliest of places: a surly and somewhat inebriated Ortlieb’s regular who had been heckling the entire show thus far, and made his way to the floor in front of the stage – stomping and clapping momentarily as the song concluded. Woah.

Lest the point get lost, I’ll reiterate: this was just Pague and a piano. When Vita plays a full-band show for its album release in September, I can’t even imagine how high the energy will be.

Joining this solo incarnation of Vita and the Woolf was Aphra, the mystical deep soul solo project of Tutlie’s Rebecca Way. She hasn’t performed under this name in over a year, and in that time has re-imagined its sound an evocative electronic outfit anchored by her rich and melodic voice. As a singer, Way is undeniably influenced by R&B. But there’s a dark undercurrent to her sound, a coldness echoed in drum machine beats and electronic textures, in the urgent floor-tom rhythms she hammered out with Tutlie bandmate Asher Brooks. Lorde or The xx might be easy parallels, in that her music definitely pop, but not necessarily happy pop. “I wrote this song when I was depressed,” Way said during one introduction. “Actually, I write most of my songs when I’m depressed.”

Don’t be fooled. Aphra is anything but a downer. Way uses her music as a means of quiet catharsis, but it’s transformative, whether we’re talking about her smiling quizzically as Brooks struts to a trumpet solo, or members of the crowd (including Pague) slow dancing on the floor to a blissful late-set melody. Check out photos from the show in the gallery below.