by Shannon Fox
The 90-degree weather and the muggy July heat didn’t seem to stop fans from flooding into the Electric Factory this past Wednesday night when WXPN presented Jason Isbell and Blake Mills. Mills even went on to joke with the crowd saying, “At least it’s not hot in here!” as he opened the stage for Isbell. It was a night of southern Americana and alt-country, two genres that as of lately have been picking up more attention in the Philadelphia scene.
Blake Mills set the stage for the night and got the crowed amped up with a few of his tracks of his latest album, Heigh Ho. Mills played along with Taylor Chester on the keys and Stewart Johnson on drums. His guitar rifts accompanied by his phenomenal vocals shook all throughout the venue.
It’s been a pretty great week for Isbell (riding the top of country, folk and rock charts right now), who graced the stage around 8:30 P.M. and was greeted by the extremely welcoming Philadelphia audience. All were ready for him to show off the songs from his latest album, Something More Than Free. He began with “Palmetto Rose” and “If It Takes a Lifetime” both off of the new album. He switched back and forth with playing acoustic and electric guitar to accompany his warm vocals.
The Alabama native was out to please fans both new and old, also playing hits from his time with Drive-By Truckers. “Decoration Day”, “Never Gonna Change”, and “Outfit” were all a part of the night’s set list. “Dress Blue” one of Isbell’s older, more familiar songs really gave him the opportunity to excel vocally and show his upbringing in southern music.
Isbell invited Mills back up on stage mid set and the two collaborated on “Children of Children” from Something More Than Free. The set also featured tracks such as “24 frames”, “Cover Me Up” (yet another fine example of Isbell’s powerful vocals and songwriting abilities), and the title track “Something More Than Free”. He went on to add three encore songs to his set including his iconic “Outfit” from Drive-By Truckers’ Decoration Day, and “Super 8” from his own Southeastern.
Overall, it was a night to remember at the Electric Factory. A very engaged audience and Isbell’s phenomenal talent have fans eagerly waiting for the next Philadelphia show.