Releasing seminal, multi-platinum albums on the same exact day might have been grounds for something of a rivalry in 1994, but in 2014 Nine Inch Nails and Soundgarden seem to have that hatchet pretty well buried.
Maybe the 20-year mark coupled with the ubiquitous ’90s pop-appeal rendered this grudge a little expensive to maintain; maybe Trent Reznor is just getting too old to stay pissed at anything with a pulse.
Whatever the reason, the two ’90s alt-rock titans kicked off on a joint tour in celebration of both The Downward Spiral and Superunknown’s 20th anniversary, hitting the Susquehanna Bank Center last night.
Soundgarden was up first, coming out swinging with their famed acid-metal brand of grunge. Kim Thayil’s cosmically schizophrenic technique and Chris Cornell’s seemingly rangeless (and ageless) vocals set the tone and demanded attention, as the band launched into 1991’s blistering “Searching with my Good Eye Closed” followed by Superunknown smash-single “Spoonman.”
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Philly music fans packed into Wiggins Park and, later that night, the Susquehanna Bank Center, for XPoNential Festival‘s Saturday lineup. We caught performances by longtime XPN favorite Ingrid Michaelson, Bayou blues rockers C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band, and Ryan Adams, among others.
The festivities continued Sunday with performances by Nicole Atkins, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, and Man Man at Wiggins Park. Later, the Susquehanna Bank Center filled up for local band The Districts, and Beck, who could be XPoNential Festival‘s best closing act to date.
“Do you guys like pizza? Do you like punny songs about pizza? Good! Because that’s all we got.”
So began Velvet Underground cover band The Pizza Underground’s show at Eakins Oval on Friday. They were there to headline before The Awesome Fest’s screening of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
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He might have described it as the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “wet t-shirt contest night”—a cash-cow ploy to put the philistines’ asses in the seats. But despite the flippant quip, piano man Ben Folds’ “Orchestral Experience” concert at the Mann Center proved a beautifully synergetic meeting point of the pop and classical styles.
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We sent writers/photographers/brothers Christopher Sarkis Graham and Bryan Armen Graham to Randall’s Island in New York to check out this weekend’s three-day Governors Ball 2014. Here’s their photographic recap of the day, which kicked off with Philly’s own Kurt Vile:
Who better to help kick off a weekend of world class, genre-spanning pop music than Philly’s own Kurt Vile?
Early on Friday, Vile and his Violators helped usher in this year’s Governors Ball, a music festival that's settled into a three-day format since launching as a one-day event with an emphasis on dance acts in 2011.
Vile's vinyl psychedelia-flavored lo-fi was the perfect volley to Janelle Monáe’s cosmic funk that would soon follow.
OutKast might have had a bumpy start to their festival comeback run after a (in)famously lackluster Coachella reception, but Friday night's confident set — backed by a live band — showed they've worked out the kinks.
Guest stars kept the energy level cranked to 11, with Sleepy Brown weaving in and out of songs through the night, and Killer Mike emerging just in time for his verse in the finale, “The Whole World.”
Day 2 brought more pristine weather and hometown talent in West Philly expat RJD2.
The collage artist’s celebrated electro-analogue style laid just the tone for the day, leaving the crowd in a sea of fist-pumps with the “Ghostwriter” set closer.
Later, The Strokes took the main stage for their first festival appearance since 2011 — but if there was any dust to shake off, no one could spot it settle.
Soon after came a far-and-away fest highlight in Jack White, who may have swapped his trichromatic theme from a red to blue base, emerging on Saturday night’s cerulean-drenched stage — but White was sure to remind us he’s not turned on the work that’s secured him as rock’s saving grace for near 15 years.
Seems the only Jack project left untapped was the Dead Weather (something of a missed opportunity, considering the super-group cofounder Alison Mosshart was on deck for a Kills set on Sunday.)
Tyler, The Creator joined Earl Sweatshirt, Jasper Dolphin and Taco for a raucous, profanity-laden afternoon set that drew a massive crowd on Day 3, demonstrating why Odd Future is the biggest punk attraction in the business. Seattle folk-rockers The Head and The Heart alleviated the adrenaline rush with a set drawn heavily from Let's Be Still, their sophomore effort for Sub Pop Records. British singer and electronic producer James Blake reached into his back catalog with a sexy set drawing on his inimitable blend of R&B, soul and electronic influences. Homestanding veterans Interpol delivered a tight, focused set before a massive crowd that conflicted with eccentric Australian electro-pop duo Empire of the Sun, whose "Walking On a Dream" set an overflow tent crowd into hysterics.
Vampire Weekend drew the bigger crowd of Sunday night's two headliners, but Axwell & Ingrosso — veterans of EDM kings Swedish House Mafia — closed the festival with a bang (literally) with a fist-pumping set punctuated by fireworks above the stage.
The trail of defunct, failed New York City music festivals is long (remember All Points West, Vineland, Field Day, Across the Narrows or Bonnaroo N.E.?) but another successful weekend on Randall’s Island proves that Governors Ball just may have cracked the code. Keep scrolling for more photos from the three-day festival.
Kurt Vile and the Violaters
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz
While The Both’s Friday night show at Union Transfer may have been in promotion its eponymous debut LP, Aimee Mann and Ted Leo made it clear the band is already pretty familiar with Philly, considering the video for their single “Milwaukee” was shot here.
The night proved one part super-group show, and one part close friends shooting the shit. They casually delivered pristine folk-pop duets between banter bouts of Paul Stanley impressions, Henry Winkler bronze statue anecdotes, and corroborations of Leo’s J.R.R. Tolkein expertise.
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One might assume a holiday like St. Patrick’s Day would hinder a band’s drawing power in a city as infamously Irish as Philly. But for Arcade Fire last night, all it really did was throw a emerald hue over a crowd of thousands — many of whom showed up honoring the band’s “formal & costume” dress code in some obnoxious green get-up or another.
At 8:45 p.m. sharp, the band emerged on a small, dimly lit stage toward the center of the arena, plodding through an abbreviated “My Body Is A Cage” before sprinting to the main stage of shimmering lights and mirrors for the proper opener, “Reflektor.”
While the night considerably favored tracks from their latest record, the band hardly shied away from old favorites like “Neighborhood #1,” “No Cars Go,” and the beloved finale, “Wake Up.”
Elaborate costumes, coruscating rotating backdrops and the group’s visceral delivery were more than enough to make up for frontman Win Butler’s occasional fumbling through his own lyrics — (“Ready To Start” started, ironically, with the wrong verse, but a sheepish grin on Butler’s part was all it took to render the flub endearing.)
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Photos | Christian Sarkis Graham
A wave of psychedelia crashed on the banks of the Delaware last night, as The Flaming Lips took their tour for The Terror to Festival Pier.
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Saturday might’ve been the banner day for WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival, with its healthy mix of mainstream acts, up-and-coming talent, seasoned legends and hometown heroes. (Although the Friday night/Saturday morning XPoNential after-party with Gogol Bordello was pretty epic, too. Photos here.)
Dr. John and Trampled by Turtles proved to be among the highlights of the daytime sets at Wiggins park. The veteran Dr. John’s jangly bayou big band and crusty Cajun growl were a nice complement to TbT’s updated alt rock- and paisley-inspired bluegrass.
As the sun began to set, attendees made their way to the adjacent Susquehanna Bank Center in time for Philly’s own Dr. Dog. “Most of you — well, probably all of you — are here for The Lumineers,” bassist-vocalist Toby Leaman acknowledged shortly after taking the stage. But the humble admission did not detract from the band’s air-tight, energetic live performance, for which they’ve garnered plenty of deserved praise over the years.
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