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Moor Mother’s Camae Ayewa imagines the future of liberation in Circuit City

Circuit City | photo by Johanna Austin | austinart.org | courtesy of FringeArts

Last Thursday, FringeArts premiered the first original theater work by Philadelphia-based poet, activist and noise musician Camae Ayewa. Since 2012, Ayewa’s music as Moor Mother has integrated industrial noise and Afro-futurist improvisation with fiery spoken-word poetry and rap lyricism. Her past work, including on the acclaimed 2016 album Fetish Bones, has addressed police brutality, intergenerational traumas, and the formation of race politics in the internet age. For her new work Circuit City, Ayewa turned her attention to the affordable housing crisis and the corporatization of American cities. FringeArts described the production as “a futuristic exploration — part musical, part choreopoem, part play — of public/private ownership, housing, and technology set in a living room in a corporate-owned apartment complex.” Continue reading →

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Dido and Philly fans have a Saturday night sing-a-long at Union Transfer

Dido | photo by Ellen Miller | ellencm.com
Dido | photo by Ellen Miller for WXPN | ellencm.com

British singer-songwriter Dido is back on the road with her new album Still on my Mind and she brought the show to the Union Transfer on Saturday night. Her longtime fans were eager to see her again, so much so that they began lining up on Spring Garden street at least three hours before doors opened. English-Italian singer songwriter, Jack Savoretti, who is on the road with Dido for a bit of the tour, opened up the night in Philadelphia. He also has a new album out this year called Singing to Strangers. Continue reading →

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Firefly On The Fly: Sunday sundown with Vampire Weekend, Hop Along, Car Seat Headrest, Jessie Reyez and more

Vampire Weekend | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The third and final day of this year’s Firefly Festival was a hot one for audiences and artists alike. Many people were spotted hanging more along the sides of the stage for shade and more than a few artists made comments along the lines of “It’s hot as fuck up here!” While it appeared that the daytime attendance was up on Sunday, the “Super VIP” section was lacking some Super VIPS and many were upgraded to get closer to their favorite artists. Continue reading →

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Firefly On The Fly: Saturday heat from Travis Scott, Death Cab For Cutie, Tank and the Bangas, Little Simz and more

Travis Scott | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If day one of the Firefly Music Festival was a great experience discovering new artists, day two was time for adjusting expectations. While there were plenty of highlights, some artists that have been talked up as the next big thing did not exactly deliver, while others performed strongly but were slotted on stages and at times that didn’t work. Continue reading →

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Billie Eilish and Denzel Curry horrify The Met

Billie Eilish | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Honestly, you can’t get a better pairing than Billie Eilish and Denzel Curry. These two rookies are on completely different sides of the musical spectrum, but balanced each other out on Saturday at The Met. When I heard that they were performing together, I was taken aback because Billie’s fanbase generally requires a chaperone to attend the show, while Denzel’s blown-out, punkish, nihilistic style is definitely not parent-approved. Continue reading →

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The Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties saga continues at a packed Foundry gig

Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

Dan Campbell, Philadelphia’s pop punk poet laureate and singer of The Wonder Years, brought his solo project/character study Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties home to an extremely sold out Foundry Thursday night, capping off a tour in support of his latest entry into the Aaron West saga, Routine Maintenance (released this May on Hopeless Records).

Following two impressive sets by indie pop bands Diva Sweetly and Pronoun, Campbell, guitar in hand, walked onstage as Aaron West, his Long Island Llewyn Davis-type troubadour character who can’t seem to catch a break. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Craig Finn brings his new story-filled album to the World Cafe Live stage

Craig Finn | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

Earlier today, singer-songwriter and storyteller Craig Finn arrived at World Cafe Live to perform a few songs from his newest solo album I Need A New War. According to Finn, the album dedicated to our world’s fast-changing times, and tells many stories about his previous 19 years spent living in New York. The frontman of rock faves The Hold Steady, Finn has been embarking on his solo endeavor for a few years now, with this album being his fourth. Continue reading →

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Jamila Woods’ cultural time capsule makes for a commanding set at The Foundry

Jamila Woods | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN | agellmanphotos.com

Chicago’s Jamila Woods makes enchanting, eclectic rock and R&B music grounded in strong songwriting, but to sum up what she does by calling her a “musician” would be a massive oversimplification. Woods has a poet’s grasp of vivid and evocative language, a cultural historian’s drive to contextualize the stories of the past into lessons for the present. She has a compelling visual sense, from coolly calculated movements onstage, to the eye-popping pillars with lyrical snippets that stand behind her four-piece band.

More than a typical concert, Woods’ performance to a packed house at The Foundry of The Fillmore Philly last night was a seminar, a workshop, a multimedia encapsulation of a time and place in history, weaving together stories of personal frustrations with observations about the collective struggles of marginalized citizens over the past century. This is a central theme of Woods’ new album Legacy! Legacy!, where almost all the songs are named for important voices in black and brown cultural history — Octavia Butler to Miles Davis to Jean-Michel Basquiat. Continue reading →