If you have never attended a Non Comm-vention at WXPN in Philly, the amazing thing is the proximity of everyone and who you see just walking around. The dashing gentleman with the impressive beard? Well that’s Sam Beam of Iron and Wine of course. The dark haired young chap with the young woman pushing the stroller with three tired tykes in tow? The drummer for the band Phoenix. The industry guy you chat with? The agent for the likes of Dave Matthews and Mariah Carey. Big and little music biz fish gather together each year for this 3 day convention featuring panel discussions and artist showcases.
Ahh…the showcases! That’s what your’s truly and the rest of the Tri-State Indie team came to check out and there was quite the line-up on day one. Let’s start with the aforementioned Sam Beam. Performing upstairs for an late afternoon industry only showcase Mr.Beam admitted, “I didn’t really write a set list so what do you want to hear?” He played an especially charming version of “Grace For Saints And Ramblers” off the new record Ghost On Ghost as well as some older tunes.
Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, yes, that Steve Martin and that Edie Brickell played a set of well written and well sung tunes accompanied by the Steep Canyon Rangers.The songs were off their new collaboration “Love Has Come For You”. The audience laughed when Martin quipped “I hate it when bands say they are playing new songs. I only want to hear the hits.” Then acknowledging that all the songs were new he added, “Just go away for a while until they become hits then come back.” It was a totally enjoyable set of music
Steve Martin, Edie Brickell & The Steep Canyon Rangers
Video Credit: www.thetop22.com
80’s dance pioneers Talking Heads and veterans Tom Tom Club brought their brand of New Wave Disco to the downstairs stage next. Led by the husband and wife team of bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Chris Frantz this six piece band got the audience grooving with their signature throbbing beats and a set that featured songs from their new album Downtown Rockers. The title song was an homage to the bygone days of the NYC club scene and name checked acts such as “Television”, “Urban Verbs”, ‘B52s”and “Blondie”. They got a rise out of the crowd when they mentioned “Talking Heads” in the lyric.
The much celebrated lo-fi guitar hero Kurt Vile performed next upstairs sans “Violators”. Seated and hidden behind his mane of hair his simple songs were a bit understated for the partying and noisy crowd and his set went mostly ignored. It had more to do with the venue and timing than his music.
The highlight of the evening was the amazing set by Phoenix. This French band has established itself as one of the premier bands in the world and for good reason. Their show was wonderfully energetic and there is a reason the songs are ubiquitous on Rock radio these days. They did great versions of songs off their latest album Bankrupt and were literally the best band I have seen in a long time.
(Video Credit: www.thetop22.com)
Slightly spent the Tri-State crew wandered upstairs for the final set of the night by Portland Oregon roots rockers Sally Ford And The Sound Outside. Sally was resplendent in Robin’s Egg Blue party dress with matching Fender guitar.They rocked the house with songs off their recent album Untamed Beast. Sally Ford is a retro spectacled force to be reckoned with.