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Listen to Wilco play Penn’s Landing in the summer of 2003

via wilcobase.com

I think my friend Patrick Rapa put it best in the pages of City Paper back in summer of 2003. With the wind of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot still in their sails, Wilco was playing the newly-opened Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing on June 28th of that year, it was a co-headlining show with NYC noisemakers Sonic Youth — one of those rare “this doesn’t totally make sense but I love it” concert bills — and in the late great alt-weekly’s summer arts preview issue, Pat wrote something to the effect of “if the Festival Pier broke loose and sank into the Delaware River during this show, what ever would become of Philadelphia’s entire music critic community?”

He had a point. This was one of those gigs where you could spot music journos from CP, the Weekly, the Inquirer, Magnet — pretty much everybody who wrote about mainstream and indie rock in the 215. Continue reading →

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Firefly On The Fly: Saturday shines with The Killers, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Lucy Dacus, Alex Lahey and more

The Killers | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Saturday is always the longest haul of Firefly weekend, and we took in a huge range of music today. Pop rock four-piece The Aces started us off on the Lawn Stage, with Philly singer-songwriter Ben O’Neill not far behind in the coffeehouse. A doubleheader of Australian rock featuring Middle Kids and Alex Lahey lifted up our afternoon.

Philly rockers Foxtrot and the Get Down performed a rare acoustic set, something they should get in the habit of doing — these songs sound like they were written to be performed in this intimate, elegant way. Continue reading →

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Firefly Guide 2018: 20 artists to discover in the Woodlands this week

Firefly 2017 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Dover, Delaware’s annual Firefly Music Festival kicks off this Thursday, and will jam-pack some 130-plus artists into four days. For a few of those artists, like headliners Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, it’s safe to say that most of the tens of thousands in attendance will be watching. For several of the artists — electropop duo Marian Hill, alternative vets Jimmy Eat World, Alaskan modern rockers Portugal. The Man, 90s R&B hitmaker Warren G — the crowds will be be reliably huge.

But for many of the acts on the bill, the audience might be less automatically robust. It might take a little bit of discovering to see them, and these are often times the most thrilling sets to catch. In the past, this has meant Bishop Briggs playing the intimate confines of the treehouse stage, or Laura Stevenson rocking the Toyota Music Den; it’s been the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff spinning the hits on a sunny midday, or singer-songwriter Hamilton Leithauser at the Coffeehouse Stage; it’s been rapper Pell rocking a Porch Stage set in the twilight, or Maggie Rogers starting the day off at the Lawn Stage at 1 p.m.

In short, it’s established names in much smaller settings than we expect, or unfamiliar names that we go on to remember. This year, we present you an assortment of artists to discover at all tiers of Firefly 2018 — from newcomers like Cali punks The Regrettes and Philly rapper Tierra Whack each playing two sets on Friday, all the way to acclaimed jazz visionary Kamasi Washington taking to the festival main stage on Sunday. Listen up, pack your sunscreen, stay hydrated, and get ready to explore. – John Vettese

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Celebrate five years of MilkBoy with Fishbone, The Weeks, and more

Fishbone | photo courtesy of the artist
Fishbone | photo courtesy of the artist

MilkBoy in center city has been hosting great shows for five years, and it’s time celebrate such an impressive milestone. On August 11th through the 13th, MilkBoy will host a three night anniversary party, and they’re holding nothing back in the process.

Big time out-of-town acts like reggae legends Fishbone and Mississippi rockers The Weeks will headline on August 12th and August 13th, respectively. Plus, it wouldn’t be a MilkBoy party without some of the finest local acts in Philly — so Nik Greeley and The Operators, Ceramic Animal, Foxtrot & The Getdown, Hardwork Movement, Carmalized, and The Last Generation On Film will all be joining the shindig. More acts are expected to be announced as the celebration draws closer. Continue reading →

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Mock Suns on mixing sound and visuals on the new “Friday Night” video

Mock Suns | photo by Chelsea Schryver | courtesy of the artist
Mock Suns | photo by Chelsea Schryver | courtesy of the artist

Philly indie-psych outfit Mock Suns have always had a healthy mix of art with their rock. Their 2012 debut Here Nor There was released in conjunction with paper masks hidden at various places around the city. The 2014 double EP Santander All That I Knew was  packaged with beautiful monochromatic photographs of the bandmates in various natural settings.

“The visuals have always been super important to us,” says frontman Greg Puglese. “Especially for me, coming from a visual arts background. I studied design in school, I’ve always been to making videos and all around doing it myself.”

The band’s newest song, “Friday Night,” comes with its own striking visual component. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Communion Philly feat. Pine Barons at MilkBoy, Telequanta at Kung Fu Necktie, The Last Bison at Haddon Lake Park and more…

Pine Barons
Pine Barons | photo by Caitlin McCann

The Communion residency returns to MilkBoy with a stacked line-up of local and touring bands. Canadian Dan Mangan + Blacksmith and Detroit’s Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas join Philly acts Foxtrot & the Get Down and Pine Barons. The latter premiered a new track called “Clowns” on World Cafe‘s Sense of Place: Philadelphia program last week, a preview of the debut LP the band is working on. Check out the song below and pick up tickets for the show here.

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XPoNential Fest: An Americanarama grand finale with Bob Dylan, Wilco, My Morning Jacket and Ryan Bingham

Bob Dylan and his Band | Photo by John Vettese
Bob Dylan and his Band | Photo by John Vettese

Though yesterday’s record-setting torrential downpour washed out Wiggins Park headliners Dawes, the 2013 XPoNential Music Festival ended on a high note with tremendous Americanarama lineup of Ryan Bingham, My Morning Jacket, Wilco and the legendary Bob Dylan and his band.

After an earnest performance from Bingham, MMJ came on and electrified the crowd with a broad-reaching set “I’m Amazed” to “Wordless Chorus” and a special appearance by Dawes compatriots Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, who joined Jim James and company on a cover of “Waiting On A Friend” by The Rolling Stones. Next up was Wilco, whose set also drew from across their catalog; impressive moments included a breathtaking “Poor Places” (from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot), a jaw-dropping “Impossible Germany” (from Sky Blue Sky) and a rousing finale of “Dreamer in my Dreams.”

Dylan and his tight band closed out the night with a set frontloaded with material from his recent LPs Time Out Of Mind, Love and Theft and last year’s Tempest. As it continued, though, Dylan worked further into his catalog for new arrangements (not immediately recognizable) of classics like “Tangled Up In Blue” and”A Hard Rain’s-A Gonna Fall”, as well as nuggets like “She Belongs To Me” from Bringing It All Back Home. Though his set did not feature any of the collaborative moments of previous tour stops, the XPoNential crowd did get an encore of “Ballad of a Thin Man.” See photos from the show in the gallery below.

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Get your prog-rock on: “Yestival” to make only U.S. appearance at Susquehanna Bank Center on 8/3

Yes logo Progrockers Yes– Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, Geoff Downes & Jon Davison – bring their 2013 festival to the Susquehanna Bank Center on August 3rd.  The progressive rock legends will play Yes favorites and two classic Yes albums in their entirety including Close to the Edge  and The Yes Album. Also on the bill: the greatest Genesis tribute band ever – The Musical Box, (performing the classic Genesis album, Foxtrot), Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy and Rennaissance with Annie Haslam. There will also be a rare appearance by Roger Dean, the Yes album cover artist presenting “The Art of Roger Dean.” Tickets go on sale Friday, June 7th at 10 a.m.  More information will be available here. Below, listen to a 1973 recording of “Starship Trooper” from The Yes Album followed by a 1972 performance of the title track from Close to the Edge.

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Scenes from the Chill Moody Music Stage at this 4th of July’s Welcome America Festival

Hardwork Movement | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Over a dozen local artists and DJs spent this 4th of July in a wooded grove along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as the first-ever Chill Moody Music Stage at the Wawa Welcome America Festival celebrated the sounds of Philadelphia. Below, check out an assortment of scenes from the event — including spaced-out composer Max Swan, charismatic rappers Boogieman DelaLuke O’Brien and Shawn Smith, hip-hop live band ensemble Hardwork Movement, and rock and roll powerhouse Foxtrot and the Get Down.
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