Tues., Sept. 10, Union Transfer. utphilly.com
Overall vibe: Nearly everyone and their mom was at this show. Mayer Hawthorne draws a mixed crowd—old and young, all fans of drinking and fun.His lighthearted R&B lyrics tread not-so-lightly on drinking anthems, and the audience was not shy about joining in.
Most memorable moment: During one of his many songs of liquor worship, titled “Henny and Ginger Ale,” he poured Hennessey into the mouths of some lucky audience members in the front row—and even took a few good swigs himself as well.
Scene stealer: A sure way for an artist to gain fans is to write a song in favor of good ol’ ganja. Avoiding any serious political commentary, the song “Crime,” which, during the performance, mixed reggae, rap and R&B, is better in studio versions in which Hawthorne is joined by Kendrick Lamar. It just makes more sense that way. Still, the crowd seriously rocked out to it, and the performance ended with a police siren. Looking around, I saw some frightened faces. (Nicole Bonaccorso)
Laura Mvula + King
Mon., Sept. 9, World Cafe Live. philly.worldcafelive.com
Overall vibe: A sold-out mix of after-work sophisticates and boho U.K. soul lovers, more diverse than expected. King, the night’s opening act, was a nice surprise, a trio of lovelies with voices as strong and striking as their material.
Most memorable moment: Mvula’s rendition of the debut LP’s title track, “Sing to the Moon.” Passionate, lush, moving from her first note to the last. She was as warm as could be, too, chatting up the audience and bigging-up Philly like an artist who knows she’ll be back.
Scene stealer: Mvula’s band is fantastic—skillful and stylish, just like she is—consisting of a harpist, drummer and stand-up bassist alongside a violinist and a cellist. The last two, she mentioned in her thank-yous, are her sister and brother. Damn, whatever’s in that Mvula blood needs to be bottled. (Kenya Beverly)
The Pack A.D. are built for the road
PW's Music Issue 2014