Highlights from Non-Comm 2014

May 21, 2014

Once a year, industry professionals of the non-commercial radio world gather at XPN’s facilities in Philadelphia to discuss trends and hurdles, share a drink or two, and watch some amazing music at the annual NON-COMMvention, or simply Non-Comm.

In between performances from The Both, Asgeir, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Shovels & Rope, and Jessica Lea Mayfield, I attended panels discussing whether or not to play the new Tori Amos (we’re not), how to make the most of your digital footprint (we try), etc. This is a conference, not a festival: it’s more chatting and plotting than anything else, but the performers always make this business trip a pleasure.

Here are the stand out acts of 2014's Non-Comm:

photo: The Hold Steady at NON-COMM(Photo: CPR / Jessi Whitten)
The Hold Steady

While I’ve never felt quite angsty enough to consider the Hold Steady a personal favorite, the charm of their live performance is undeniable. Craig Finn bounces around the stage with an energy I haven’t possessed since the age of 12.   

photo: Chet Faker at NON-COMM(Photo: CPR / Jessi Whitten)
Chet Faker

Chet Faker is not only a highlight of the week, but a highlight of the last couple years. This guy has it. A beautiful voice, slick beats, and he layers sound in a way makes you feel simultaneously hollow and whole. He took the stage alone and mesmerized.

photo: Strand of Oaks at NON-COMM(Photo: CPR / Jessi Whitten)
Strand of Oaks

I love what I’d heard from the upcoming album "Heal," and when I met the lead singer Tim in person, I fell for him too. A good person, making good music. When he announced: “This is JM going out to Jason Molina,” I melted and the room spun.

photo: PHOX at NON-COMM(Photo: CPR / Jessi Whitten)
PHOX

Anytime I can see Wisconsin's PHOX is a true treat. But while I've had the pleasure of catching them on stage and in an OpenAir studio session, I got to see them in a totally unique environment in Philly. During an incredible dinner courtesy of Songlines, they scooted from table to table playing from their new album for the diners. While this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime scenario, you can see them live at the Hi-Dive on July 9.

photo: Bob Boilen at NON-COMM(Photo: CPR / Jessi Whitten)
Bob Boilen (left) sans hat

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