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Let Them Roll: Brandi Carlile, Old Crow Medicine Show wrap up XPNFest with maximum energy

Brandi Carlile | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com
Brandi Carlile | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN | sydneyschaeferphotos.com

Okay, Brandi Carlile, I promise to never again pigeonhole the wonderful thing you do as “singer-songwriter” or “roots / Americana.” Just keep slaying like you did from the BB&T Pavilion stage on the closing night of XPN Fest.

The Seattle-rooted musician and longtime XPN favorite took the stage last night not only with Tim and Phil Hanseroth – aka “The Twins,” her longtime collaborators on guitar, bass and vocals – but with a rousing full band that elevated her songs to arena rock proportions befitting the huge amphitheater they were performing in. On drums, Brian Griffin propelled the music forth; on cello and keys, Josh Neumann added nuanced, atmospheric accents; on guitar, Gibb Droll rumbled and roared. Carlile is gripping as a solo performer, no doubt — she made all of NonCOMM cry back in 2015, after all — but seeing her with this lineup is next-level.

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Hang Loose: Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark Jr. burn down BB&T for XPN Fest night two

Alabama Shakes | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Alabama Shakes | photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

We might have been various degrees of soaking wet. But Alabama Shakes made it easy enough to forget.

“Here’s how it’s gonna work,” frontwoman Brittany Howard told the crowd. “I’m gonna give you a bit, and you’re gonna give it back.

And so it went: the band tore across a blistering 90-minute set that worked in most of the songs at the band’s disposal – including a thundering “Always Alright” from the Silver Linings Playbook soundtrack, the contemplative “Joe” (a live cut from an Austin City Limits comp), and a heaping handful from 2012’s Boys and Girls and last year’s Sound and Colour.   Continue reading →

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Party People: Ryan Adams, Kurt Vile, Tommy Stinson bring XPNFest night one to a close

Ryan Adams | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com
Ryan Adams | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

“No lectures tonight,” Ryan Adams told the crowd at the BB&T Pavillion last night. “Let’s just have some fun.”

In part, it felt like a dig at his fellow Los Angeleno Father John Misty – who played a very polarizing performance at Wiggins Park earlier in the day. It was also a bit of a nod to the admittedly mercurial tone of his own Philly gigs with The Shining in recent years. They always rock hard, no doubt, but sometimes the interaction is minimal. Other times its aggressive, like when an oblivious fan at the Tower Theater insisted on repeatedly shooting flash photos of Adams – who has been very open about his meniere’s disease and how difficult it makes performing with bright lights – and so the singer gave the fan a piece of his mind.

There was none of that last night. For his headlining XPoNential Music Festival set, Adams opened up with that call to have fun and a shout out all the party people in the house – and true to that, he and The Shining seemed to be having the absolute best time up there. Continue reading →