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Archive for the ‘World Cafe Live’ Category

[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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SOUNDTRACK: CHERRY GLAZERR-NonCOMM (May 15, 2019).

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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SOUNDTRACK: EX HEX-NonCOMM (May 15, 2019).

I really liked Mary Timony’s band Helium.  I’ve followed her over the years and now she has this relatively new band called Ex Hex.

Punk rock veteran Timony is known for her work in 90’s bands Helium and Autoclave, plus supergroup Wild Flag, while her co-frontperson in Ex Hex, Betsy Wright, also plays in Bat Fangs. The trio is rounded out by drummer Laura Harris, also of The Aquarium, and although they played tonight as a four-piece, they retained their effortless sense of cool.

Ex Hex is the most commercial sounding music she’s made and I found their first album a little boring.  They were kind of straight ahead punk pop songs that might have been revolutionary in the 90s but are kind of staid now.

The newer songs, however, are more a little more complex and more interesting as a result.

“Don’t Wanna Lose” comes from their first album. It’s got reverbed guitars and a simple melody.  It sounds a bit like Sleater-Kinney, which isn’t too surprising since Timony was in Wild Flag with Carrie Brownstein before forming Ex Hex.

“Tough Enough” is slower and a bit more classic rock sounding.  In fact, all of the songs here feel more big riff classic rock than the simple punk of the first album.  “Rainbow Shiner” has a big metal riff.  It’s complicated and cool and makes you want to raise your fist in the air.

I don’t know if Timony is the only person doing guitar solos (it looks like Betsy Wright is also playing guitar). But “Good Times” opens with a lengthy guitar solo, which I assume is all Timony.

“Radiate” is a bouncy song with twin guitars and a quiet middle part.  They end the set with my favorite track, “Cosmic Cave.”  This one specializes in lots of reverb an echo with spacey flanging sounds at the end.

This set make me want to bust out rips again and see if I was missing something.  But also to get It’s Real where most of these songs come from, because I liked what I hear.

[READ: May 20, 2019] “Chemistry”

A policeman told a crowd he was Looking for a retired chemist.  His daughter had dropped the man off at the cinema but when the movie was over he was no where to be found.

The crowd was in the Road House which stood next to the cinema.

I enjoyed the way the characters were set up.  The cook, Keith Lyon, felt mystified at his life.  He was in his forties and spent all day filling plates and having empty plates return.

It was as if a joke had been played on his life, thought he could see the humor of it and it hadn’t made him bitter.

A customer in the restaurant suggested the man got bored and left the movie early, “I might do that.”

“What you might do is beside the point,” said the policeman. “As you’re not missing.”

No one was a suspect in the Road House, the policeman was looking for volunteers to comb the nearby forest where they think the man went. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ADIA VICTORIA-NonCOMM 2019 Free at Noon (May 15, 2019).

I saw Adia Victoria do a Tiny Desk Concert back in 2016.  I liked her and thought it would be interesting to hear her when she wasn’t holding back for a Tiny Desk.  And here she is rocking out.

Her music is a little hard to pin down, she describes it as blues, but there’s a lot more going on:

her songs were structured like mainstream R&B hits, but in her most memorable moments Victoria turned away from the traditional styles of blues and soul, and turned instead toward something more macabre–like the moody trip-pop of Billie Eilish.

This sound is the direction she went in on her new album.

The set began with “The Needle’s Eye” as a pulsing synth morphed into a danceable rhythm (electric and acoustic drums).  Victoria sang in a breathy voice.  After the chorus, two saxophones provided a noisy distorted solo.  She sang “I’ve been a fool, I’ve been afraid, I’ve been asleep, but now I’m awake.”

She introduced herself “My name is Adia Victoria. This is my band. We done come all the way up from Nashville to play my blues for you.” Then, after a beat, “Lucky you.”

Her introduction for “Different Kind of Love” was brief and mirthless. “It’s about getting dumped,” she shrugged, without even a moment of heartache over the one who dumped her.

This song continues in that dark vein with rumbling drums providing most of the “melody” along with more sax.

Up next was “Bring Her Back,” which she called “a song for my ancestors.” This song used an organ to change the tone.

Victoria played “Heathen” at the Tiny Desk on an acoustic guitar.  I thought it would be better louder.  And it was.  Especially knowing its origins:

As she introduced her final song, “Heathen,” Victoria mentioned some of the frustration she experienced as a young woman with dreams of becoming a professional performer. “My little voice would break and my knees would shake, but I had this song and I made no mistakes,” she rhymed. Victoria explained that she wrote the song “after I realized that there were two sets of rules — one for men, and one for women. When it came time to gettin’ your freak on, I was very naïve. So I wrote this song. It’s a nice little ‘screw you’ to the patriarchy. We play it tonight for every single woman in Alabama right now who’s got these men trying to make moves on their body. We say, ‘That’s bullshit.’” Victoria had aimed her criticism at Alabama’s state legislature, which recently passed a highly restrictive anti-abortion bill…. “This song is called ‘Heathen’ and it’s about giving no fucks,” she declared before counting it off.

The song was much darker and more raw than the Tiny Desk version. It also felt a lot more bluesy than her newer songs (with a lot of sax blowing around the simple chord pattern).

She finished with a gritty chorus of improvised scatting; each syllable landed somewhere between a laugh and a snarl. Afterward, she addressed the Philadelphia crowd resolutely once more and gave a single deep bow. “Thank you, goodnight.”

Adia Victoria is an intriguing performer for sure and I’m curious how her sound will expand in the future.

[READ: May 20, 2019] “Taking Pictures”

Two days ago I posted a story about someone stealing pictures.  Now here’s the title “Taking Pictures.”  They are not related in any other way.

This story is about a woman who has just gotten engaged.  And her relationship with Sarah at work–the bitch.

Sarah is

a washed-out sort of strawberry blonde with fine bones and small features.  She is fading to white.  She is constantly insulted by men.

Sarah at work also has a personality problem

Which is to say her problem is that she does not like other people’s personalities.

The narrator is surprised that Sarah is seeing someone.  Sarah says he won’t “do Saturdays.”  Maybe he’s a bisexual. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JEALOUS OF THE BIRDS-NonCOMM 2019 Free at Noon (May 15, 2019).

I heard the band name Jealous of the Birds and I instantly formed an opinion of what they sounded like.

And this recording couldn’t be much further from what I imagined.

I assumed they would be bird-like and they are not at all.  This set rocks, it switches genres, it covers a lot of grown, but nothing at all bird-like.

Many artists live by the philosophy of creating the music that they want to exist in the world, but few do it in such a striking way as Jealous of the Birds. Northern Irish songwriter Naomi Hamilton has been making music under the moniker for a few years now, but each song we hear from Jealous of the Birds feels like a fresh new discovery — and anyone who was hearing the band for the first time today undoubtedly felt like they were experiencing something special.

Folks who attended last year’s NonCOMM music meeting may remember hearing a glimpse of the arresting single “Plastic Skeletons.” The song, which is not quite like anything else and not immediately accessible, is congruous with Hamilton breaking out of her local music scene in Northern Ireland and carving out an indescribable genre of her own. Since then, Jealous of the Birds has gone on to release two new EPs, The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep and Wisdom Teeth, which show the depth and range of Hamilton’s songwriting ability.

Driven by her love of language, Hamilton’s lyrics are intricate and poetic; musically, you can detect influences from Irish folk to psychedelic rock.

With her slicked back hair and laid-back demeanor, Hamilton makes it look easy, but her songs aren’t necessarily easy to listen to — hearing them once will only make you want to listen again and again to try to understand what the artist is getting at.

The first four songs are from their 2016 album Parma Violets.

Powder Junkie is a stomping, stop and start kind of song.  It’s bluesy but stops abruptly after just 2 and a half minutes.  It’s a great introduction to the band.  As is “Trouble in Bohemia,” a slower song with a folk feel. It showcases the softer side of the band, and is also quite short.

“Russian Doll” introduces a much more poppy sound to the band.  The chords are simple, but the highlight the clever lyrics

I took your compliments
I just struggled to believe
That I was worth loving
And you weren’t lying through your teeth
In truth, I’m a Russian doll
My egos shut inside
I painted them by hand
And I’ll never let them die

“Parma Violets” is slower and more acoustic-sounding.  It’s a ballad and a sad one a that:

Oh please
Don’t you swallow
Pills like parma violets
Again

I had to look up to discover that Parma Violets are a British violet-flavoured tablet confectionery manufactured by the Derbyshire company Swizzels Matlow.

The next two songs come from 2019’s Wisdom Teeth EP.  I like them both.  “Marrow” is a folk song, but “Blue Eyes” is a wonderfully weird rocking song.  It feels off-kilter with some unexpected lead guitar riffs at the end of each verse and some funky bass parts.

The final song, “Plastic Skeletons” comes from 2018’s The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep.  It’s got a cool bass with some nifty guitar line to start the track.  The chorus is kind of staccato and lurching and quite a lot of fun.

These last two songs were my favorite of the set, and I’m glad to see they are the most recent songs. I like the direction they’re going.

[READ: May 15, 2019] “Peep Hall” 

I have read many many stories by Boyle and I like him quite a lot.  I like that he writes about so many different topics from so many different perspectives.  He is even unafraid to be sympathetic to people who don’t seem to deserve it.

It was somewhat unfortunate that I read this story and the previous one by him (written about 19 years apart) on the same day because they were both rather creepy and voyeuristic and sympathetic to people who necessarily don’t deserve it.

The narrator of this story, Hart Simpson, likes his privacy.  His phone is unlisted and the gate on his driveway locks behinds him.  When he sits on his porch, the neighbors can’t see him.  He works as a bartender at the local pub and is quite a visible person, but when it’s time off, he wants to be alone.  I mean, sure he hooks up once in a while, but otherwise he’s alone.

One afternoon, a woman came up his driveway.  She had been talking to his next-door neighbor (not his favorite person) in some kind of heated argument.  Then she came over to his porch. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JÚNÍUS MEYVANT-NonCOMM 2019 Free at Noon (May 15, 2019).

Júníus Meyvant is the stage name of Icelandic singer Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson.  His band is a soulful Iceland six-piece with outstanding musicianship.

The set started off strong with “High Alert.”  A cool bassline and organ propel the song forward with accents from trumpet and Sigurmundsson’s soulful voice.

The second song, “Holidays” is much slower as it starts with a wavering keyboard and groovy bassline.  It’s just as soulful though–possibly more so, with nice horn accompaniments.

“Across the Borders” showcased a psychedelic-jam side of Júníus Meyvant, as well as the pianist’s skills.  After some powerful trumpet, the song settles down into a slow groove.  Midway through, the drummer plays a cool little fill and the band launches into a fast keyboard-filled jamming romp.

“Love Child” is a sweet, smooth love song with gentle horns guiding the melody.

“Ain’t Gonna Let You Drown” had a rich, gospel sound to it, it’s his new single. He slowed down the tempo for their last song “Thoughts of My Religion,” a personal ballad with a catchy chorus.

It’s a lovely set which you can listen to here (for some reasons Night Two’s shows are much much quieter on the player).

[READ: May 15, 2019] “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” 

I have read many many stories by Boyle and I like him quite a lot.  I like that he writes about so many different topics from so many different perspectives.  He is even unafraid to be sympathetic to people who don’t seem to deserve it.

It was somewhat unfortunate that I read this story and the next one by him (written about 19 years apart) by him on the same day because they were both rather creepy and voyeuristic and sympathetic to people who really don’t deserve it.

This story is about a woman who chooses to take a three day train ride rather than a three hour plane ride to Dallas.   It wasn’t long after the school shootings.  The shootings had happened at her daughter’s school although the daughter was unharmed.  This had nothing to do with her choice of taking the train, exactly, but she felt it would afford her some down time.

At morning breakfast she was seated across from a young man–Eric–about her daughter’s age.  They had a pleasant light conversation–first about state capitals and “sexy” cities  and the dangers of Splenda “its made from nuclear waste.”  He soon revealed that he went to the same school as her daughter  And just to complicate things.  He knew the shooter. (more…)

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