Toward the end of Kristin Chenoweth‘s set on Saturday evening with The Philadelphia Orchestra, she turned to the audience and said, “There’s only about 20 minutes left, and then you can go and pee. Oh, and if there are any straight men in the audience, my name is Kristin Chenoweth.”
That’s the typical kind of camp one would expect from the Broadway star who has both a Tony and an Emmy to her name. Let’s be clear: Ms. Chenoweth and The Philadelphia Orchestra are odd bedfellows at best, but how can you not adore the pint-sized soprano sipping soda from a giant cup between her big musical numbers? And how could you not love her commentary on Wawa (“You can buy a candle there. You can buy a Slurpee there. Heck, you can buy an entire five-course dinner there!”)? It worked as an evening of endearing entertainment. Read more »
On Sunday, folk rocker Dar Williams graced the stage of the New Hope Winery for two shows: one in the afternoon and one at night. She has played the intimate venue regularly over recent years. It suits her introspective and unique folk talents. Featuring drummer G. Wiz and keyboardist Bryn Roberts, Williams opened up her vast songbook for the performances. Songs from her 2015 work Emerald (which was recorded and mixed at The Hooters co-founder RobHyman’s Elm Street Studios) sounded wonderful next to her later works, which included the rock-infused “FM Radio,” which she co-wrote with Jill Sobule, and the jazzier “New York is a Harbor.” Conversant and obviously enjoying herself, Williams was a pure delight. She ended the evening with a performance of her Christmas tune “The Christians and the Pagans,” making a fitting end to a rousing night of music.
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Someone once told me that a movie only has to be worth the price of one ticket — regardless of whether it cost $50 million to make or $5,000. So was the Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz show worth the $69.69 ticket? By the response of the sold-out crowd, many wearing full-body animal onesies at Electric Factory on Saturday night, that answer would be an emphatic: “Hell yeah!” Cyrus has been getting some heat about this indie project for it being self-indulgent and too eccentric, but I can’t imagine anyone left that show feeling cheated out of a night of entertainment. The evening was like one of Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstoppers — a continually permutating theater of nutty costumes, colorful LED screens, shimmering confetti, fog cannons, balloons and lots of adult chatter and themes all united by Cyrus’s powerful, beautiful voice.
Saturday night, World Café Live Upstairs saw a trio of bands warm up a brisk night. First up was Brooklyn-based Ponyhof. Usually a fourpiece, on this night it was just lead-singer and keyboardist Carrie Erving and cellist Chris Loxley. The duo lit the night with their shimmering indie rock currents.
Bedroom rocker AlexGiannascoli (aka Alex G) is one of the latest Philly artists to pop onto the national scene, but this weekend’s show wasn’t too far removed from his comfort zone. The Temple English lit major — who’s one of the most-buzzed-about musicians in town — got his start playing DIY house shows around the North Philly area. Saturday night, he ended up almost back where he began at what is arguably Philly’s most DIY concert venue, First Unitarian Church.
Confession: ODESZA is my go-to for both pump-up jams while I’m getting ready for a night out and chill tunes for zoning out on my long train home every day. There are few music artists who can play both roles, and this duo does it to perfection. I had some pretty high hopes for last night’s concert, and ODESZA blew them out of the water.
I’m not sure what I was expecting — a Coachella-esque feel, teens moshing, perhaps? That was certainly the vibe I was getting from the crowd outside Union Transfer beforehand in their booty shorts and headbands, at 7 pm on a Wednesday. (Don’t these kids have school in the morning?) Thankfully, those of us over 21 split off upon entering into a bar area that leads to the upper deck of the venue. If you’ve never been to Union Transfer, this place is off-the-charts as far as concert spaces go. Remnants of this train station’s former life provide grandiose details of a bygone era: soaring beamed ceilings, ornate lighting fixtures, and a pair of squid chandeliers over the bar. Although, you’d never know it when the lights go down and all eyes are on the stage.
Vivid Seats, a website for buying and selling music, sports and theater tickets, recently compiled a list of the 20 best North American cities for live music. It should come as no big surprise that Philly was at the top of that list. They analyzed factors like number of concerts and average ticket price for upcoming shows to rank the cities, all of them being from the U.S. except for Toronto. They noted that Philly was particularly great for genres like alternative, blues, jazz, country and folk.
There is an inherent all-sensory mood in the music of Lera Lynn. Old alcohol and smoke reside in the nostrils while the eyes can only faintly see the figures on the stage through the dimly lit room of sound. And there is the voice: a rich, sultry concoction that veers to country and folk, sometimes simultaneously. The guitar rumbles, sometimes gutturally, sometimes slight, layered with percussion that is never an afterthought. This sound certainly made her the perfect partner to the art of the second season of True Detective (for which she created the soundtrack).
I’ll admit it: I still grin when people refer to Marina and the Diamonds as a band. In reality, the Diamonds are her fans, and Saturday’s concert at the Electric Factory proved why we are such an integral part of Marina Diamandis’s iconic persona.
When I arrived half an hour early for the 7:30 pm doors, I was shocked — but shouldn’t have been — to see how long the line of people was. It snaked all the way around the venue for at least a couple of blocks. Cheery youths donned colorful fruit on their heads, diamond-shaped signs and little hearts on their cheeks. I followed suit, making sure to draw one on my own cheek before I arrived.
Thankfully, there was no major opening act. The only introductory segment was a half-hour set by DJ Wyllys. He had a fun energy, but just having the turntable and vinyl records wasn’t enough to put it over the top.
Marina hit the stage at 9:15, opening with the quirky song “Mowgli’s Road.” To all of our delights, the show was split into three acts, each one a snapshot of the eras surrounding her albums, The Family Jewels, Electra Heart, and finally, her 2015 record, Froot. In between segments, an animated Marina would bat her eyes on the set screens, appearing in each of her album’s looks — like the famous blond hair and long lashes from Electra Heart — while she changed costume.
Like the headline says, this post is a review of the Gary Clark Jr. show at the Fillmore last night. But before we get to the reviewing, two things must be stated:
1. The Fillmore is absolutely gorgeous. Last night was my first time there, and I was absolutely in awe. It’s B-E-A-utiful. There are bars everywhere, you can actually order decent food, the beer selection is above average, it’s not too difficult to get to (parking is everywhere and it’s less than a 5-minute walk from the Girard el station and Frankford Avenue trolley stop) and the revamped factory vibe provides a magnificent industrial aesthetic. Very rock-and-roll. Would highly recommend. Two thumbs up.
2. I don’t usually mention the opening band in reviews, but this time an exception is necessary. Black Pistol Fire was killer. They reek of old school blues — probably even more so than Gary Clark Jr. himself. They even did a cover of Son House. And a cover of a Led Zeppelin song that was basically a cover of a Howlin’ Wolf song (long story). Anyway, they’re playing Ortlieb’s on December 12th. Go. It’s $10, and it’s on the weekend. You have no excuse. I’m telling you, you should go.