Divas Pack Dell Music Center for a Powerhouse Concert for AIDS

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Sheryl Lee Ralph is working hard to spread the important message of HIV/AIDS awareness through her DIVAS (Divinely Inspired Victoriously AWARE) Simply Singing concert. The 25th annual benefit show, which claims to be the longest, consecutive-running musical AIDS benefit in the country, played Saturday night to a packed house at the Dell Music Center.

The show featured soul-stirring performances by some of the most talented women in entertainment, including Faith Evans, A’ngela Winbush, Meli’sa Morgan, Monifah, Candace Benson, Philly’s Carol Riddick and more. The event featured on-site testing and testimonies of those who have been impacted by HIV/AIDS, including Revevernd Rae Lewis Thorton, an Emmy Award-winning activist who has lived with HIV/AIDS for over two decades. 

Check out my photos of the evening below:



Every Day is Halloween With Phish

Photos by Scott Olker

Photos by Steve Olker

The Mann Center in Fairmount Park was left a smoking heap of cedar ash and charred lawn Wednesday night, after the Phish from Vermont burned the entire place down over the course of their two-night run, on August 11th and 12th. Both shows had a classic Phish flavor, with set lists heavy on both vintage and new jam vehicles, bucket-list bustouts, quotes from the band’s most recent Halloween show in Las Vegas, and a five-song second set on Wednesday.

As noted in the constantly updated a cappella number “Grind,” the band has collectively lived more than 70,000 days. Though firmly in their fifties (or perhaps because of it?) they are absolutely in peak form, debuting new material on this summer tour like the straight-ahead funk rocker “No Men in No Man’s Land” that has earned a warm reception from diehard fans—but sounds normal enough to make an appearance on adult-rock radio.

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School of Rock Youth Slayed in AllStar Concert at World Café Live

The School of Rock AllStar Concert this week at World Café Live brought me back to a time of pop quizzes and social ladder-climbing. Yet, I doubt any members of the School of Rock band have to worry about winning popularity contests. Their all-star talents automatically make them the coolest kids in town.

An army of teen rock prodigies took center stage on Tuesday night to deliver a psychedelic show that would have made Jack Black proud. Two Allstar teams and two local school house bands took turns working the stage in half-hour increments throughout the night. At any given time there were about a dozen teens rocking the platform at once, accompanied by an instrument of their choosing. Instrumentalists included electric guitarists, keyboard players, and those on bass and drums. And let’s not forget about the show-stopping vocalists whose pipes were so powerful, it was hard to believe they’re barely post-pubescent.



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Lettuce and Umphrey’s McGee Bring Spectacular Light Show and Jams to the Waterfront

Photo by Stephen Olker

Photo by Stephen Olker

Lettuce, the band, isn’t wilting in the face of the sun currently blazing in their eyes as they range through their funk-space tune “Doubleheader.” An early show time of 5:45pm and a truly swampy night welcomed Lettuce, Umphrey’s McGee and their eager fans to the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing.

Lettuce’s core have been playing together since their Berklee College of Music days, and it shows. This is a precision funk band. 100% tight, turn on a dime, popping with sax and trumpet, dialed in and connected. Eric Krasno has real soul in his guitar tone; he is never boring to listen to, either in this outfit or brother-band Soulive, which also features Lettuce’s Neal Evans on keys.

Bassist E.D. Coomes bounced like a Gummi Bear despite the increasingly soupy ambience, but too soon Lettuce left us to absorb the humidity and abundant aromas of the stepped Great Plaza to await the second set of the afternoon.

Umphrey’s McGee hit the River Stage at 7:36pm, opening with their stalwart jam vehicle “Bridgeless.” Debuted in 2004, this is a key composition in the canon – basically a 101 course in the signature Umphrey’s sound: ultra-dorky, all-the-notes prog-rock buzzed up with heavy metal and funk breakdowns. On second thought, that describes nearly every Umphrey’s song. They are nothing if not consistent.

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Parachute Wow World Café Live Despite Absence of Ailing Third Member

Parachute

Will Anderson strapped on an acoustic guitar at World Café Live on Friday night and opened the show with the powerful yet simple “Hurricane.” After the first song Kit French joined Anderson on stage, multitasking on the keys and saxophone while singing backup. The two performed a couple seamless sets, and then I began to wonder when the third Parachute member, Johnny Stubblefield, would join them.

“Johnny is sick,” explained Anderson. Well, that answered that. They expressed some disappointment in their band member’s absence, but then Anderson turned to French and casually admitted, “More sex for us. Hahaha.” The sold-out crowd of mostly women broke into a fit of laughter. I too let out a few giggles and then I realized they probably weren’t joking.

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REVIEW: Taylor Swift Brings Down-Home Charm to Lincoln Financial Field

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Last night was my first Taylor Swift concert, and I learned a Taylor Swift concert is many things. There are costume changes—10 by my count, over the course of two and a half hours—and each one will involve sequins or rhinestones or fringe, perhaps leather or thigh-high boots, and almost always an exposed midriff (though never, ever navel). There are Fitbit-like wristbands for each concertgoer that flash and flicker, creating a mesmerizing light show across the crowd. There are surprises, and for anyone attending tonight’s second sold-out show, beware of potential spoilers ahead. There is excessive pandering to the hometown, though most of the assembled will consider it bonding, and weirdly, I sort of did, too. And you will become a part of a 50,000-strong group therapy session. There is also music.

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Father John Misty April-Fooled the Audience at Union Transfer Last Night

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“Are you ready for Father John Misty? He’s gonna make sweet love to your head. Your ears, I mean, and he’s not gonna stop. For at least two hours.” —opening act King Tuff

Striding on stage as a lurid neon script spelling out ‘No Photography’ flickers to life, Father John Misty seizes his microphone like a starving man after the last loaf of bread on earth. Everything about him is magnetized, engaged; he is aflame singing the opening and title track of his most recent album, I Love You, Honey Bear, swinging the microphone stand.

At the end of the song the front row, all male, all under 25, clap deliriously and snap photos. Thanking the audience for a great night and bidding us safe return home, Father John and his band leave the stage. The same techs who set up the guitars and tested all of the mics return, unplugging gear and ripping up a set list from the stage, handing it to a kid in the front row.

Set List

  1. I Love You, Honey Bear

April Fool complete, the band return to the stage and attack.

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Marilyn Manson Shocks by Not Shocking, Just Giving a Damn Good Show

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All photos courtesy of “Dark Chrystal.” Purchase prints here.

I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be going to the Marilyn Manson show at the Electric Factory on Friday night, the second stop on his Hell Not Hallelujah Tour, which opened on Thursday in, of all places, Silver Spring, Maryland.

I’ve never owned a Manson album, never downloaded a tune, never seen him live, so I guess you could say I’m not exactly a fan. Plus, Philadelphia’s forecast called for a wintry mess, and my couch and Black Mirror on Netflix sounded like a much better Friday.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Local The Voice Hopeful Matt McAndrew at World Cafe Live

Photo by Susan Rostron

Matt McAndrew at World Café Live | Photo by Susan Rostron

It’s an unseasonably warm Wednesday in October and I’m on my way to see a golden-throated, moppy-haired, tattoo-covered 23-year-old perform an acoustic set at World Café Live. It’s a long way from the typical heavy metal show that I usually attend. How did this happen?

I got sucked in to NBC’s The Voice, thats how. I am a huge fan of the musical talent show that overflows with so much positive energy, it makes Pat Croce look like the old man from Up. Like last year, this season’s show features some gifted contestants from our corner of the bar—Danica Shirey and Matt McAndrew—the latter of which I am here to see.

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