Archive for the ‘World Cafe Live’ Category

[ATTENDED: May 9, 2023] Hozier

Hozier announced a headline tour this year (first tour in several years) and I knew I had to get tickets.  My son is a big fan and the rest of us like him quite a lot.  We saw him at Newport Folk Festival a few years ago (although my son chose to skip that day) and he was amazing live.

The tickets went on sale mid March and I got 100% shut out from the Mann Center.  I probably could have gotten lawn seats, but that would have been decidedly uncool.  And by the time I decided whether or not to get lawn seats, they were all gone too (sold out the 14,000 capacity venue, no bad).

And then in mid April he announced he’d be playing some “pop up” shows.  Including one at World Cafe Live.

I never thought I’d get tickets, but somehow I managed to get two.  So my son and I went to Philly to see him.  And, without even talking about the show I can attest that it was 100% better than seeing him at the Mann Center and 1000% better than seeing him from the lawn at the Mann Center.

We arrived early in hopes of getting pretty close to the stage (WCL is quite small with great sightlines.  I didn’t think we’d get up front–and my son was fine with that–but I didn’t want to be too close to the noisy bar either).  We passed by the venue at 6:30 and saw a relatively small line.  But we had plans for Federal Donuts and fried chicken.  Only to discover after the three or four block walk that this location closed at 3 (two blocks from 2 colleges and you close at 3PM?).  That threw off all the plans, so we wound up going to an amazing Halal food truck.  I couldn’t walk and eat, so I stuff my gyro into my pocket and we headed into the venue (thank goodness they didn’t search for food).

We got down there and my son was delighted with how tiny the place was.  I didn’t want to stand right where people come in so we squeezed  to the other side.  Which was pretty good, although there were a couple of tall people who I knew would block our view from time to time.  So he sneaked around to the side.  I thought it might be a little far to the side (and in fairness, I couldn’t see all of the band), but the sightline for Hozier himself were perfect.  And that’s what we were there for.

Hozier and his large band (nine people in total) came out to much applause. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 9, 2023] Julia Pratt

I was so excited to get tickets to this Hozier pop up show.  I actually assumed there would not be an opening act.  Although with the show slated to start at  7:30, surely they must have someone first.

And indeed, a few days ago they announced it would be Julia Pratt, a young Philly musician who will also be playing Philly Music Fest this year.

Julia has a powerful voice and seems like the nicest person in the world.  She was really sweet on stage and was genuinely delighted when people made heart signs back to her.

Her songs were simple (she told us which ones had been released or not) but catchy.

However, she did the thing that I hate the most in singers.  She turned one syllable words into seventeen syllable words by hitting every note on the entire scale.  It sets me on edge when singers do this and she did it constantly.  To me it sounds like compensating for a weak voice or someone who can’t hit a note.  But her voice was really nice when she sang normally.

But the crowd seemed to really enjoy the acrobatics so she kept doing it.  And she seemed really nice so I hope she gets lots of success.

But for me, it was an unpleasant 30 minutes, but also because there were drunken women next to me who almost got in a fight when one tried to sneak past the other.  Good grief.


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[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 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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[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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[ATTENDED: November 6, 2019] Steve Page Trio

I saw the Steven Page Trio about a year ago in Philadelphia.  When he announced that he was touring some more and coming to Bethlehem, I grabbed tickets for me and S. right away.

S. doesn’t really know his solo stuff at all, but she is a fan of BNL and has always said how much she liked his voice, so I thought it would be a fun, relaxing, seated event.

We were so close, we were literally right next to the stage.  When you’re standing, its a coveted spot, but when you’re seated, it’s terrible!  Luckily, they moved Dean Friedman’s giant monitor out of my way so I could actually see them all.  But in hindsight, sitting a few seats back would have been far preferable.

The weirdest thing is every time he picked up or put down his water bottle I thought he was going to talk to me (he didn’t).

I love being up close, the angles were just all wrong.  Any pictures I took were going to be of Steven’s crotch (!).   Fortunately, the vocals sounded fine.

I have learned from past experiences that seeing an artist a few months apart often means the same or a similar setlist.  And that’s what happened here.  Although when I look at other recent shows I see that he seems to have a kind of rotating setlist of some of the songs.  I saw that the night a few nights before us was amazing with “Alternative Girlfriend” (the song I really wanted to hear!) and “Someone Who’s Cool” an Odds cover!  They also played “Manchild,” my favorite new song of his and “Break Your Heart” both of which I have heart before but, come on, they are awesome.  Incidentally Odds opened for Steven Page in Canada.  Once again I wish I was above thee border not for political reasons. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 29, 2019] Man Man

I saw Man Man open for Gogol Bordello back in 2014.  I really enjoyed them and at that time I wrote:

It was an insane and wild show from start to finish from crowd to band and I would absolutely see them again.

It took five years for Man Man to play anywhere near where I was again and there was no way I was missing this show–seeing them headline in their home town was the icing on the cake.

I had assumed that Man Man would be the wildest act on the bill.  So it was amusing that they followed Sun Ra Arkestra–who has been doing wild for over fifty years.

Like Sun Ra, the guys in Man Man were all wearing decorative ponchos.  But unlike the Arkestra, all of their ponchos matched–indeed, so did all of the clothes under the ponchos, down to the fact that they were all wearing the same shoes. (more…)

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A couple of years ago I had a pass to NonComm, but ultimately I decided not to go.  I had never been to World Cafe Live and, while it sounded like a fun time, it was just so many mid-week nights and lots of leaving early, that it sounded more exhausting than fun.

I have now been to World Cafe Live and I can imagine that the (less divaish) bands are hanging around talking to people (and radio personalities) which is probably pretty cool.

I loved the idea of these sorta personal concerts, too.  But I have since come to see that they are 20-45 minutes tops.  Hardly worth driving 90 minutes for.

But now that the sets are available to stream after the show, there’s no need to go.

The year I was going to go there were a bunch of artists I was excited to see.  This year there weren’t as many.

Although Cherry Glazerr is a band I’d like to check out.

Cherry Glazerr is a Los Angeles trio who formed in high school.  The blurb notes:

They’ve been known to keep a social and political message at the forefront of their songs, confronting the misogyny that’s too prevalent in their scene — and in our culture.   At one point, frontwoman Clementine Creevy turned her back to the microphone, leaned back limbo-style, jumped up and down — and didn’t miss a beat. That’s what frustrated feminist punk looks like in 2019 according to Cherry Glazerr.

They totally rock as well, cramming six songs into 20 minutes.

They open with feedback and drums that settles into “Ohio” –a distorted lumbering catchy song with Creevy’s vocals riding along the top.  I love the unusual riff that accompanies the song after the verses.  The solo is simple but very cool.

“Self-Explained” is slower with a cool vocal line in the verses.  It has a tempo that demands a big build up.  And the guitar solo fills that in really well.   “Wasted Nun” has some more great buzzing guitars and thumping drums over a simple but satisfying punk riff.

“Daddi” changes the dynamic of things with whispered creepy-sounding lyrics and a quiet guitar melody for the verses.  The big pounding chorus changes things up dramatically.

Those three songs come from their new album, while the final two come from their previous album, Apocalipstick.  “Apocalipstick” has a big powerful riff and turns out to be a rocking instrumental–it’s as good as the title of the song.

They end with “Told You I’d Be With The Boys,” a song with a cool riff and some nifty guitar licks as well.  I also like the vocal tricks that Creevy uses on this track.  And the way it ends is a total blast.

It’s a great set and makes me want to see them next time they’re playing more than 20 minutes!

[READ: May 27, 2019] “Ross Perot and China”

The title of this story was just so evocative.  I couldn’t imagine where Lerner would go with this.

And so as I started reading it, I had to wonder, is the main character Ross Perot?  Is that a young Ross Perot on a boat, drinking Southern Comfort in a man-made lake?  It sure could be.  Or maybe the young lady he’s with is Ross Perot’s daughter?

So that when the young lady slips off the boat unnoticed and he can’t find her, I wondered–where is this going?

Well, soon enough it is revealed that Ross Perot is not a character in the story, he is more of an abstract idea. (more…)

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