Chris is a concert photographer and music critic for Time Out Philadelphia.
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Chris is a concert photographer and music critic for Time Out Philadelphia.
Brilliant folk rocker Laura Veirs played a humid set at Boot & Saddle on Saturday that included a solid band and superb selection of new songs from 2018’s The Lookout. Here are some photos and highlights from the evening. 1. The show opened with The Lookout’s first track “Margaret Sands.” A song about the merging of humankind with nature, it was an apt beginning to a night that spans the flavors of Veirs’ emotions. There is the valuable look at females in music history in “Song for Judee”—from the awesome collaboration between Veirs, k.d. lang and Neko Case—and the masterclass in love-song writing that is “Galaxies.” Veirs’ voice and guitar skills were front and center, though when she stepped to the keyboard for “The Meadow” and “White Cherry,” her band’s talents bloomed into full view. The violin and viola work of Alex Guy, guitar and bass of Eli Moore and drumming of Matt Berger bring Veirs’s sound to expansive highs. 2. There are many standouts on The Lookout, but “The Meadow” shines live. The stunning sense of hope that lies within the lyrics carries this song. “No hate, just spring’s young light green leaves/ Showing us what life can do/ We went to the meadow.” The sharing in this experience set in nature, far from the song’s distractors of walls, ads, fear, confusion and hate, is only temporary, as are many of the moments in Veirs’s works. “We knew it wouldn’t last.” Thankfully Veirs continues to show us new paths to these truths, however sad they can be. 3. The hea
Union Transfer was busting at the seams Saturday night for hometown heroes Hop Along, whose superb third record Bark Your Head Off, Dog, was released in April. It was a night that won’t soon be forgotten, as the pure love was felt between band and fan until the final note. Hop Along 1. Bathed in red light, vocal powerhouse Frances Quinlan took the stage and started with a stunning solo rendition of “How You Got Your Limp” a breathy favorite from the new record. The rest of the band was along soon after, including drummer Mark Quinlan; this year marks ten years sister and brother have being playing music together. There’s also guitarist Joe Reinhart, rock steady bassist Tyler Long, and the band’s newest secret weapon, Chrissy Tashjian of the band Thin Lips on keys and guitar. Hop Along crushed it all night, and the eager crowd ate it up, from the anthemic “How Simple” (“How simple my heart can be / frightens me”) to set closer “Prior Things” and its powerful discussion of what could have been (“Why don’t I try to make you mine? / Why is a lack of imagination the crime?”). Hop Along 2. The height of this in Bark Your Head Off, Dog is “What the Writer Meant,” and searching for meaning in Quinlan’s riddling lyrics and emotional lyrics brings the band and it audience closer. The refrain of “God is the one who changed” echoed in our ears and around the building. Eight 3. The other bands on the bill were tight. Philly punk trio Eight led by vocalists Mimi Galla
Friday was day fourth and final day of the WXPN’s 18th annual NON-COMMvention at World Café Live, which closed with performances by Rhode Island rockers Belly and Britain’s Editors. Here are some photos and highlights from that show. 1. Belly are back with their signature alt-rock sound. On the heels of the release of Dove, their first album in 23 years, the quartet of Tanya Donelly, Gail Greenwood, Thomas Gorman and Chris Gorman delivered five stellar tracks—some new, some old—to a sold-out crowd of fans. “Feed the Tree” rocked as wonderfully as ever, while the new material, like “Stars Align,” sounds like classic Belly. 2. Set closer “Human Child” was the highlight from Dove. A song about lessons for newer life that holds universal truths, Donelly’s rich vocals stir up emotions of the human condition. Greenwood blazed away on bass and the Gorman brothers carved percussion and guitar into fascinating lyrics like: “Oh human child/ Your face to the wind, your back to the sun/ Oh human child/ You’re digging up bones and miss every point.” I certainly cannot wait to catch a full set of new Belly and old at Union Transfer in September. 3. British rockers Editors closed out NON-COMM with a solid set of indie rock. Lead singer Tom Smith cranked up the energy on a solid mixture of songs from their 2018 LP, Violence, and more familiar tracks from the past. Bright white and red lights provided a visual representation of the moody rock. Smith was often off balance, whether yielding
We hit up World Cafe Live Wednesday for the penultimate go-round of WXPN’s 2018 NON-COMMvention. at World Café Live. The day brought an assemblage of some of the best and emerging indie and world-music acts, such as Brandi Carlile, Jade Bird and Philly’s own Hop Along stopped by for a set before their sold-out show at Union Transfer Saturday. Check out some photos and highlights from the day below, and don’t miss our coverage of days one and two. 1. The award for most spine-tingling NON-COMM 2018 performance goes to Angélique Kidjo The NYC-based, Benin-born singer-songwriter (pictured up top) played selections from her forthcoming album, Remain in Light, in which she has reimagined the songs from the 1980 Talking Heads album of the same name with her own sense of danceable beats and flowing rhythms. It was pure musical joy. 2. Brandi Carlile put on a multifaceted performance full of special guests. The songmaster opened with a brilliant “The Eye,” playing with her brothers Phil and Tim Hanseroth, before moving on to full-band mode for “The Joke.” But the familial stage appearances didn’t stop there: Later she brought out her daughter for “Mother.” 3. Jade Bird wowed. Showcasing superb songwriting skills and a stunning voice, the British songstress spun tales of love and loss in the Americana vein. The set concluded with a rousing performance of the brilliant “Lottery,” certainly one of the year’s best songs. We nabbed Bird for a quick portrait session before the show. 4. H
Day two of the 18th annual NON-COMMvention brought a slew of exciting talents to World Cafe Live in West Philly, including Courtney Barnett—who recently toured with Philly’s own Kurt Vile—Mt. Joy, Titus Andronicus and Low Cut Connie, the energetic Philly glam rockers even President Obama loves. Check out some photos and five highlights from the day below. 1. The awesome force of youthful rockers Starcrawler (pictured up top). Led by the agile Arrow de Wilde, the quartet ripped up all expectations for NON-COMM. With their “About” statement on Facebook stating “we will kill you” fresh on everyone’s mind, De Wilde aimed straight for the bodies of the crowd. She got in people’s faces, drank their drinks and finally ran for the bar and then straight out of the venue to end the set. We nabbed them before the show for a quick portrait session. 2. Courtney Barnett wowed with guitar and lyric ingenuity. Playing songs from her Friday release, Tell Me How You Really Feel, the Aussie rocker proved why she is one of the finest musicians around—one hair swoosh and guitar strum at a time. 3. Jacob Banks came bearing powerful soul. With a rich voice, the soon-to-be-known by everyone artist delivered “Unknown (To You)” from his forthcoming 2018 release, The Village, and the hit “Chainsmoking.” 4. Jeff Rosenstock delivered one of the few direct political moments thus far at NON-COMM. He introduced the song “USA,” from his 2018 release POST-, by stating that the song is for anyone “disguste
Tuesday was day one of WXPN’s 18th annual NON-COMMvention at World Cafe Live. The mini music festival brings together affiliates from non-commercial radio outlets around the country and showcases a lineup of indie musical acts—from rising talents to well-known faves. Keep reading for photos and five standout moments from the day. 1. Mitski (pictured up top) was as stunning as ever With bass in hand, the Japan-born singer-songwriter delivered powerful renditions of favorites “Francis Forever” and “I Don’t Smoke” while unleashing a new song to end the set: “Nobody.” She recently announced that she’s releasing her next album, Be the Cowboy, in August. 2. The sublime sadness of Phoebe Bridgers continues to amaze. She played works like “Smoke Signals” and “Funeral” to a silent, awed room. It was a magnificent way to spend an evening. Check out our coverage of Bridgers’ last show in Philly, also at World Cafe Live, in February. 3. Sunny War gave us spine-tingling, heartfelt songs—and a portrait session. Standing alone and strumming an acoustic guitar, the L.A. folk-punker opened with the brilliant “Tomorrow Someone New,” which was entrancing. Her 2018 album, With the Sun, is one of those you keep on repeat. We also snagged her before the show for a quick portrait session. 4. We got a live taste of Lucy Dacus’s Historian—and it was delicious. The 2018 album is one the finest records of the year, and it translates beautifully when performed live. It was exhilarating to witness Da
The “moderately gay, post-ironic bummer pop” of Coping Skills led a five-band, Philadelphia-centric bill at batting cages/concert venue Everybody Hits on Saturday. The show was a way to show off their latest album, Worst New Music, but also benefit a good cause: Proceeds from the night went to nonprofit No More Dysphoria. Here are some photos and highlights from the night. 1. Coping Skills’ Lauren DeLucca and Rachel Dispenza are a delight to watch. The duo joyously introduced songs and harmonized about not wanting to go to work, giving us awesome, relatable observational rock that spiraled into solid guitar solos. Despite the name of the new album, the work spawned a collection of infectious earworms that you’ll want to digest again and again—and they translate wonderfully when performed live. 2. Album opener “Bagel Fruit Water” is one of the best tracks of 2018. Direct and oblique at the same time, it proclaims that the subject of the song’s body has been “declared unfit for occupancy” and is “all boarded up and completely worn down.” It is a sad but relatable entry point for the remainder of the album, and it certainly stood out live. 3. We dug openers So Totally and Vivian K. So Totally The four piece of So Totally delivered a solid set of savory fuzz rock. And trio Vivian K., who are now in Philly via Orlando, unleashed a set straight out of punk heaven. 4. Venezuelan band Zeta put on a psychedelic rock clinic in the second slot of the night. Their stirring rock mo
On Thursday, Tune-Yards brought their one-of-a-kind rhythms to Union Transfer, performing their organic soundscapes for a crowd that kept moving from start to finish. Check out some photos and highlights from the tour-de-force performance. 1. Tune-Yards was explosive from note one. Playing behind their latest full-length, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, which, through jaunty melodies and worldly pop rhythms, makes an earnest effort to address white privilege, singer Merrill Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner painted aural pictures of beauty and pain. With the addition of drummer Hamir Atwal for this tour, the band is a solid trio of sound-makers. Garbus’s radiant voice is often looped over a string of sounds, whether they be from a keyboard or guitar. Woven into the bass and drum sounds, it is a delicious layering of music. 2. The new album yields many treasures when played live. “ABC 123” is one of the most brilliant tracks of the year. It is instantly catchy with the chorus of “ABC 123 LMNO.” These repetitions hide the important commentary of modern humanity. Talking about the sixth extinction and eating “up all the coral,” Garbus sings about her desire to things from a different perspective. The world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, that’s for sure, but at least we have Tune-Yards’ superb beats to dance to before our destruction. 3. The show was a treat for the eyes. With brilliant spotlights and a spare white canvas behind Garbus, the show popped wi
The Madrid quartet Hinds played a raucous rock show Tuesday night at First Unitarian Church. The experience was pure joy and fun as hell—a perfect musical entrée for a toasty Philly evening in May. Check out some photos and highlights from the night below. 1. Hinds is such a tight band, and their energy is infectious. The youthful crowd drank in the sweet sounds of the band’s lively 2018 release, I Don’t Run, and reciprocated with constant movement and fervor. Members Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote showed us great vocal and guitar interplay between, Ade Martin was superb on bass and Amber Grimbergen killed on drums. 2. If I had to pick one song highlight, it’d be “Soberland.” The pop-rock wonderland that is I Don’t Run is full of songs about love, desire and all the mess in between. One highlight, which was played early in the set, was “Soberland.” Showing more maturity than what was heard on the playful first album, songs like this delve into the ability to understand one’s partner. “But how am I supposed to touch you and stay away/ From all the strangers that surround you” is a vital thought about the complexities of love and the freedom to question its place in your life. 3. The energy only grew as the show progressed. The climax was the main set closer, “Davey Crockett.” Shamir joined the band on guitar and Cosials and Perrote took their microphones to the crowd, which moved with musical ecstasy. Hinds may have only two albums under their belt, but they already show
Loma put on a transcendent musical experience for an intimate crowd at Johnny Brenda’s this weekend. They took the audience on a glorious sonic journey, with the sounds of nature interwoven into their ruminative eponymous debut album. 1. Loma combines the talents of Cross Record’s Emily Cross and Dan Duszynski with Shearwater’s Jonathan Meiburg. An evening with Loma, whose tapestry of sounds combines everything from guitar, bass and percussion to pre-recorded sounds of insects, birds and dogs, is akin to being lost in a forest and happening upon a ring of musicians. The intimate stage setting of Johnny Brenda’s allowed for the mix of instrumentation and effects to rise to the balcony and surround the riveted crowd. One of the crowning moments of the album and live experience is "Black Willow," especially with the mixture of harmonies from Cross and Meiburg and the expressive keyboard sounds of Lee. 2. They played the debut album in its entirety. This album is one of the best of 2018. Many works stand out, such as the aforementioned "Black Willow," but on Saturday, “Sundogs” emerged as a live favorite. The sound effects of arthropods and dogs encircled the room in movie-style surround sound, giving Cross and company the chance to sketch out the moments of loss that infuse the song’s lyrics. 3. A master of lighting set the perfect scene. Meiburg’s excellent understanding of lighting, which impressed on recent Shearwater tours, brought the experience of seeing Loma to a who
The unique sounds of 24-year-old musician King Krule, a.k.a Archy Marshall, filled the Fillmore Philadelphia on Wednesday night. Playing behind his 2017 record, The OOZ, he and his band entranced local music lovers with the sounds that make up the record—everything from rock to jazz and hip-hop. He punched the air with his bloodied-mouth vocals and spurts of guitar rage, and got the crowd particularly amped when he went into “Dum Surfer.” The song, which chronicles some of his youthful mishaps in a stream-of-consciousness style, had the audience singing along in ecstatic bursts, showing Krule’s deep connection to his audience. Led by Gio Escobar, Standing on the Corner opened the show with an array of genre-bending material. With a hip-hop style that reaches towards jazz and beyond, Escobar and the rest of his band have a knack for taking songs in unexpected directions. More photos of King Krule at Fillmore Philadelphia
Singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega graced the stage of the Sellersville Theater last Saturday to play two of her classic albums in order: 1987’s Solitude Standing and 1992’s 99.9 F. It was a stunning night of music by one of music’s preeminent performers. Here are some photos and standout moments. 1. The night was bookended by Vega’s most ubiquitous tune: “Tom’s Diner.” The observational work stuns with its deftness and artistry. Vega began the show with an a cappella version of the ’90s hit, leaving the room stone-cold silent and in awe. Then, she and her band (guitarist Gerry Leonard, bassist Mike Visceglia and drummer Doug Yowell) ended the night with the super recognizable DNA remix of the song. The song is a timeless masterpiece; DJs still use the beat to this day. 2. Then there was the brilliant devastation of “Luka.” Cradling her guitar, Vega unspooled the story of abuse. From there, the crystal-clear imagery and stunning truths that characterize Solitude Standing came in waves. “In the Eye” was particularly memorable as a deeper cut. 3. 99.9 F stormed in, full of its experimental sounds. “Blood Makes Noise” stands out for its fascinating sound, which filled the sold-out venue with its off-kilter rhythms. “In Liverpool” takes the story of the young love in Solitude Standing’s “Gypsy” to a fantasized future, creating a wonderful connection between the two records. 4. She tied up the night with a beautiful bow. Vega wrapped up the show with “Marlene on the Wall,” “Left