WHYY Connections Festival Photo Recap
WHYY Connections Festival
Sept 3rd, 2011
The Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing
By: David Turcotte and Brandee Nichols
The first ever WHYY Connections festival wrapped up on Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 at the Great Plaza at Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing. With two days of free music and raffles, the turnout was better than expected for the waterfront event, providing late comers with literally nowhere to stand by the time Dr. Dog took the stage.
Kicking off Saturday’s show was an incredibly energetic performance by Philly locals, Toy Soldiers. Their bluesy folk rock tunes had me asking myself why this was the first time I was hearing them. Unfortunately, this gave the next act a slight disadvantage.
Birdie Busch had the oh so difficult task of following an act that’s more energetic than you. Not to say that Busch and her band members aren’t talented, because they are. I just think that they should have played before Toy Soldiers. That’s all.
Although the crowd was a little slow to arrive for the first few acts, the great plaza quickly began to fill out as Philly hip-hopper Kuf Knotz took the stage with a particularly lively band, as well as a few local guest MC’s.
Following Knotz was a sleepy intermission that included WHYY’s Story Slam winner Eric Thomas.
The Baseball project minus a sick Peter Buck (REM) covered roughly 120 years of baseball goodness through witty songs about the Los Angeles Dodgers (my hometown team), Harvey Haddix’s near perfect game, and other rock and roll inspired anecdotes of about losing seasons and world series victories.
Next up, a surprise visit by a Rita’s eating Mayor Nutter who let the audience know what a good time he was having before introducing Justin Townes Earle.
Justin Townes Earle played a low-key set featuring the talents of Amanda Shires and bassist Bryn Davies. I was actually surprised at the choice of slow songs and seemingly sluggish performance of Justin Townes set in contrast to some of his past performances which TSI has covered. He seemed to make up for this when performing several songs solo, increasing the energy level just enough to keep me interested.
Following Townes was Philly’s finest, Dr. Dog. Although Townes had a nice draw of fans during his performance, the Great Plaza exploded to capacity as Dr. Dog opening with “Hang On,” “Mirror Mirror” and “Stranger” from the 2010 release Shame, Shame. Although I sadly was only able to stay for a few songs of Dr. Dog’s set, I am always in awe that the band rarely (if ever) has a bad performance. I also must admit that I was one of at least 4 photographers in the photo pit that was singing the lyrics along with close to 8,000 fans.
Set list (courtesy of The Swollen Fox): Hang On / Mirror Mirror / Stranger / From / The Ark / Nobody Knows Who You Are / Someday / I Only Wear Blue / Worst Trip / The Beach / The Rabbit, The Bat, and The Reindeer / Take Me Into Town / Shadow People / Shame Shame / Jackie Wants a Black Eye / Heart it Races