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Archive for the ‘WXPN 88.5 FM–Philadelphia, PA’ Category

[ATTENDED: July 13, 2022] Home is Where

I saw Foxing three years ago without knowing much about them.  Their live show blew me away.  So when it was announced that they were playing Philly again, I had a choice. Go to the Bikini Kill show that I’ve had tickets to for years or go to the Kevin Devine show which I had gotten tickets for just in case it sold out, or blow off them both and go to Foxing.

Well, Bikini Kill was postponed (again) and Kevin Devine was a solo show (which is good, but I’ve seen him solo twice already), so I decided to go to Foxing without having a ticket.  Traffic was light, I got free parking (well, technically it cost 68 cents) and bought a ticket in cash with no handling fees!

I went downstairs and was kind of surprised at how young the audience was.  I was also surprised by how well people seem to know the opening band Home is Where who hail from Florida.

The band is a four piece: josiah gardella – drums ; trace george – guitar ; brandon macdonald – tantrum, harmonica, singing saw ; connor “fat slaps” o’brien – bass. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 13, 2022] Greet Death

After the wildness of Home is Where, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Greet Death.  I assumed they had gotten their name from Explosions In the Sky who have a song called that.  Which meant that they would probably be instrumental post-rock.

But they aren’t.

They are a four-piece from Detroit with two lead singers.   When I saw them I was in front of Samuel Boyhtari who has a more pleasant singing style.  On the other side of the stage was Logan Gaval who is more of the mouthpiece of the band, I’m guessing. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 13, 2022] Foxing

I saw Foxing three years ago without knowing much about them.  Their live show blew me away.  So when it was announced that they were playing Philly again, I had a choice. Go tothe Bikini Kill show that I’ve had tickets to for years or go to the Kevin Devine show which I had gotten tickets for just in case it sold out, or blow off them both and go to Foxing.

Well, Bikini Kill was postponed (again) and Kevin Devine was a solo show (which is good, but I’ve seen him solo twice already), so I decided to go to Foxing without having a ticket.  Traffic was light, I got free parking (well, technically it cost 68 cents) and bought a ticket in cash with no handling fees!

The two opening acts were really good and I settled in for Foxing.  They had just announced a new live album that you could get online or you could get (autographed) at the shows.  I bought the LP before the show (only 20 were sold each night) and was stuck holding it the whole time (next time bring a bag).

The lights went down and a recorded song played while fireworks were projected on the screen behind the stage.  Then the band came out.  For some reason I thought there were more of them, but there were only five.  And they were loud enough that they could have been ten.

Foxing released a new album last year and this was the tour for it, so there were lots of “new” songs.  But the fans knew them all (I mean the record has been out almost a year).

Singer Conor Murphy is a dynamic frontman.  He moves around, he jumps, he screams, he engages with the audience.  It’s like every note he sings is personally connected to him.  He has a delicate falsetto (not unlike TV on the Radio) but he can scream, like really roar, with the best of them.

And the way the band jumps from quiet to HUGE is really impressive. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 22, 2021] KT Tunstall / Christine Havrilla [moved from August 23, 2020]

So KT Tunstall was supposed to play three shows in my area.  The show at Ardmore was added when the other shows were rescheduled.  Then COVID pushed the shows back again.

For some reason this show was listed as being on December 8 for a short time before it was corrected to being on December 22.

That meant that it looked like she was playing four shows in the Philly area at different venues.

I like Ardmore, although if I can see a band closer I will go there instead.  Even though KT’s SOPAC show was postponed, the fact that it was postponed and not cancelled meant that I could just wait until she came back to South Orange. (more…)

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[DID NOT ATTEND: December 11, 2021] Stars / Kevin Devine

Back The Montreal band Stars, whom I loved in the early 2000s and would love to see live, announced plans to play some Christmas shows in New York.  I knew I couldn’t go–logistically there was no way.

Then I saw that they also announced a show at World Cafe Live.  Yes!

But it was the same day as our holiday party.  There was no way I could get to this one either.  I held out hope that our party might end early, but again, the logistics were not in my favor.

Kevin Devine, whom I love and whom I have seen live a few times was opening.  I would love to see him again as well.  It really was a perfect bill.  But sometimes timing doesn’t work out.

So Stars, please come back to Philly or NJ.  I will cancel everything else for you.

 

 

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[POSTPONED: December 10, 2021] KT Tunstall / New Reveille [rescheduled from March 27, 2020 and February 12, 2021]

I enjoyed watching the saga of KT Tunstall’s shows getting scheduled and postponed and reschedule and postponed again.  Not because I want her (or anyone to be unhappy), but because it was a good bellweather as to what was going on.  Unlike most artists, KT was really game to get out there.

Plus she had three shows in my area and it seemed like I saw her name all the time.

Well, things finally opened up and she was playing her shows.  Of the three, I was most likely to go to this one since it was closest.  And then a short time before the show, it was postponed as well.  But her other shows weren’t

But this time it wasn’t because of COVID or other health related issues, it was actually a boon for her (although not for SOPAC).

She was invited to sing at the 41st Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert at Symphony Space in New York City.  A good reason to postpone a show.

I see that in the new year, KT is on the West Coast, so I’m not sure when she’ll be back for SOPAC, but I’m sure her local fans will be waiting.

New Reveille is an Americana/bluegrass band from North Carolina.  They’ve got banjo, fiddle and a ton of attitude.  While they are definitely in the country vein, I think the bluegrass and the rockingness (they cover The Killers live) makes them a potentially fun live band.  For the three shows in the area, she has three different opening acts.  This one might be the most fun.

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[ATTENDED: October 15, 2021] Jade Bird

I’ve really enjoyed the rocking songs that Jade Bird releases.  Her voice is so powerful and big that I rally wanted to see her live.  Well, we did kind of see her live at Newport Folk Festival, but that was more hearing her as we were walking around.  So when she announced a tour I definitely wanted to see her.

But it turned out that her show at Underground Arts was Thursday the 14th and I’d already had three shows in a row that week.  (One did get cancelled, but I didn’t change my plans).  So I wouldn’t get to see her.  Until WXPN announced that she’d be playing a Free at Noon (one of the few they did this year).

A Free at Noon show is weird for me.  I have to leave at least 90 minutes before the show for travel time and parking and then it takes me an hour at least to get back to work. So that’s two and a half hours, not including the show which is usually an hour.  So, if traffic is bad, it could be a four hour Free at Noon for me.  But if you have extra vacation time, why not use it?

So I drove down to Philly and got a great spot on the street.  I actually wound up being very early because of the lack of traffic.  And that was fine.  I got a spot right by the stage and waited for Jade Bird to come out. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE PEELS-“Juanita Banana” (1966).

I heard this song today on WXPN’s “Worst Song in the World” segment.  And as soon as it started, I understood why it was on there.

The person who submitted the song said she just wanted to know…  why? Why would someone make this?  And this is a good question.  More amazingly why would they make a Part 2?  (They did).

The song opens with a kind of Mexican guitar intro and spoken word story of Juanita–a banana grower’s daughter.  She wanted to sing at the opera, so she left the banana fields and went to the city.  And as the chorus comes in Juanita sings an incredibly high pitched (and way out of context) note that turns into the melody of “Caro Nome” from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Rigoletto.

What?

Then the band sings the “Juanita Banana” chorus in a kind of Mexican accent complete with horns.

What?

Her melody comes one more time and just when you think that the operatic vocals are enough, Juanita’s father burns down the trees, moves to the city and sings in a deep voice the same melody.

They even duet at the end!

It is so bizarre, so potentially offensive, and yet so catchy (that Rigoletto part is wonderful) that it could only be a mid 60’s novelty song.

The DJ explained that it was a novelty song but it was actually a minor hit in 1966.  He said a little more about it, but sadly I  didn’t catch the whole story.

And yet I can’t get that scream melody out of my head.

[READ: May 3, 2021] “The Case for and Against Love Potions”

This story opens with an older, married man talking to a younger, single man.  The younger man asks what one should do if the person he loves does not love him back.  The older man is pleased that the younger man recognized that the older man is “the most sagacious man in this part of the country.”

I rather enjoyed the tone of the story and the amusing way the sagacious man spoke:

As you know, there are a million and three solutions to this problem.. .I imagine you tried at least twenty-eight of them before coming to see me today.

The best advice the man can give is simple: love potions. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: February 12, 2021] KT Tunstall / New Reveille [rescheduled from March 27, 2020; moved to December 10, 2021]

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The SOPAC site says that new dates will be announced for this show.  It’s nice to read postponed rather than cancelled.

When it was announced that KT Tunstall was going to play SOPAC, my first thought was probably, huh, she’s still around?

Then over the last few months I’ve been seeing more and more about her.  I also feel like her name keeps cropping up in local venues.

After listening to a live show of hers on WXPN, I realized that she’s really good (and released songs I didn’t realize were hers).  I had no intention of going to this show but with all of her shows rescheduled and the new one being moved to next year, this might be a nice show to go to.

New Reveille is an Americana/bluegrass band from North Carolina.  They’ve got banjo, fiddle and a ton of attitude.  While they are definitely in the country vein, I think the bluegrass and the rockingness (they cover The Killers live) makes them a potentially fun live band.  For the three shows in the area, she has three different opening acts.  This one might be the most fun.

sopac

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SOUNDTRACK: BLACK PUMAS-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #122 (December 7, 2020).

After hearing a couple of Black Pumas songs on WXPN, I had to get the album.  They played such an interesting and catchy style of “gritty, retro soul.”

I was pretty happy for them when the were nominated for a bunch of Grammies.  Then S. and I were laughing because so many people we knew (who follow pop music) had never heard of them.  So I guess they are quite the niche band.  But I’m glad to have heard them.  And I’m glad they get the Tiny Desk Home Concert.

The Austin-based rock band Black Pumas is having a good 2020. The group, led by singer Eric Burton and guitarist Adrian Quesada, was just nominated for three Grammys, including album of the year for Black Pumas (Deluxe Edition), and both record of the year and best American roots performance for the track “Colors.” The band’s turn behind a tiny desk (and chair) shows why its debut album — now more than a year old — is receiving so much recognition right now.

The band is socially distanced in a studio with singer Eric Burton in a bad ass leather jacket up front.

Behind him are terrific backing singers Lauren Cervantes and Angela Miller.

Then, masked in the back row are guitarist Adrian Quesada, drummer Steve Bidwell bassist, Brendan Bond and keyboardist JaRon Marshall.

They play four songs and

the intensity level builds gradually throughout this four-song set. It’s clear why the band’s live shows have won over fans. From the opening strains of “Red Rover,” Burton digs deep and by the time we get to the ballad “OCT 33,” he’s burning with old-school soul heartbreak.

“Red Rover” is on the second disc of the deluxe edition, so I wasn’t as familiar with it.  But it’s got a nifty wah wah and echoed guitar solo from Quesada.

Up next is “Fire.”  Burton grabs a guitar as a keyboard melody opens the song.  Quesada plays a cool surf riff and then Burton takes over the vocals.  His voice is outstanding and this song is crazy cathy (the backing vocals are just icing on the cake).  When Burton sings a note mid song and kicks it even higher, his hat falls off–that’s the kind of intensity they bring.

Burton opens “OCT 33” with a soft, echoing guitar melody.  It’s simple but instantly grabbing.  He starts to sing as bass is added.  The song slowly builds over the length of it to a wonderful moment mid song where Burton sings and Quesada plays a ripping fuzzy guitar solo.

They end with the wonderful “Colors.”  An echoing, instantly memorable guitar lick opens the song.  Burton’s voice sounds fantastic as he sings.  I love the “doo doo doo doo” part in the middle and JaRon’s extended old soul-sounding organ solo is a fantastic treat.

The Pumas are probably my favorite new band of 2020.

[READ: January 3, 2021] “Rwanda”

I’ve really had a hard time getting into Wideman’s stories in the past.  I don’t like his writing style and I often feel like I know what’s going on until he starts to get really elliptical and he loses me.  I feel like this is a failing on my part, but who knows.

This story is told in four parts.

Part I

The narrator asks his niece (and us) a thought experiment.  If you were in charge of running the world and you learned that life on earth was going to end shortly (6 months at most) would you tell the public?

Wideman ties the story to what’s happening in the world.

What if this deadly plague meant that all life would soon end.  Would they tell us?  How would people react?  Would people freak out and go crazy–everyone for himself, or would some carry on as normal? (more…)

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