The Key's Year-End Mania: Read the 15 most-popular Key stories of 2017 - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
WDRE staff and fans, circa 1997 | stills from video by Andrea Corbi Fein

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. In this installment, we bring you the ten most popular Key stories of the year.

15. Diner Food, Punk Rock Style: The Tasty’s owners reflect on their first year in East Passyunk – May 1, 2017

With a menu boasting tofu scrambles, breakfast burritos, fried chicken sandwiches, pork rolls, cheesesteaks, chicken and waffles, and pastries baked in-house (not to mention the endlessly rotating weekend specials and carefully curated coffee selections), The Tasty’s runaway success is multifold.

14. 25 Random Points from this year’s XPoNential Music Festival – August 1, 2017

There are lots of festivals these days — punk festivals, jam-band festivals, country festivals, rap festivals — but it struck me at some point Sunday that what makes XPoNential so special is that it’s all of the above. Where else can you see an engaging new-country trio like No Good Sister, an inventive and inspirational hip-hop collective like Hardwork Movement, a blues legend like David Bromberg and a groundbreaking psychedelic band like Dream Syndicate — all in the span of a few hours? There is no “country stage” or “hip-hop stage” or “indie stage” or “emerging artists stage.” There is just music everywhere.

13. “The Night R.E.M. Became My Favorite Band”: Reflections on the Monster tour’s three-night stand at The Spectrum – October 12, 2017

They knew exactly when to work in the slower songs. “Star 69” ended the main set before they came back to a wash of noise and feedback for “Let Me In.” I liked noise in my pop songs before this, but I’d never heard anything like the dense saturation of this. It shook the seat. I’d never FELT noise like this. A band that I’d always considered a “mostly quiet” band (despite the publicized return to rock of Monster) owned that stage with so much passion and energy that it completely changed my view of them. I went into that show as a fan and left obsessed. I’d seen a few shows before this, but none that transformed my idea of a band. It set the bar for basically every show I’ve ever seen since.

12. World Cafe Live at The Queen to close in May – January 24, 2017

“We are proud of the role we have played as a catalyst for revitalizing downtown Wilmington, although we had hoped the downtown renaissance would have grown at a more rapid pace. Despite our best efforts to make the Queen a seven-day-a-week operation, we have not been able to generate the revenue required to sustain such an ambitious business model over the past six years.”

11. Seven bands from the Philly DIY underground you need to hear right now – July 19, 2017

We are still rocking, still falling into our amps in damp, sweltering basements and rolling around in the free dumpstered bagel piles at our local community centers, screaming our hearts out, shouting down The Man. This article seeks to chronicle the continued mayhem of the Philadelphia punk rock scene, seeking out both the upstart and lesser known bands and the tried and true favorites breathing new life into their sets, as well as highlighting how truly diverse our loud rock scene is. It is exhilarating to think that our community features women, queer / LGBT folks, and people of color playing prominent roles. Sit back and let the pretzel-flavored chaos reign.

10. XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Thinking of a Place” by The War On Drugs – April 24, 2017

“Thinking of a Place” was a special release for this past Saturday’s Record Store Day, released as a special 12-inch double sided single. It’s eleven minutes and twelve seconds of pure sonic beauty, featuring backing vocals from Philly’s The Dove and The Wolf. Listen to it and float away.

9. Listen to David Dye’s final show as host of World Cafe, read his farewell letter – March 31, 2017

A page of Philly music history turned this afternoon as David Dye hosted his final episode of World Cafe. He has been at the helm of the show during its 25-year run, discovering new artists and tracking their careers with vigorous enthusiasm, revisiting old favorites and digging up gems in his pile of vinyl. For his farewell show, he was interviewed by another big name in public radio — Ari Shapiro of All Things Considered — and spent some time chatting with incoming Cafe host Talia Schlanger, as well as revisiting the World Cafe 25th anniversary concerts with Ryan Adams and Ben Vaughn.

8. R.I.P. Heartland rock icon Tom Petty, gone at 66 – October 2, 2017

American rocker Tom Petty — whose four-decade career involves band-leading, collaborating, solo excursions, production, and some of the most memorable, unifying songs in recent memory — passed away tonight following a cardiac arrest at his Malibu, California home. He was 66 years old.

7. 56 scenes from the 56th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival – August 22, 2017

And then, of course, there are the pick-up players at colorfully constructed campsites, the folks strumming acoustic guitars while lounging in hammocks, the budding artists making sketchbook illustrations and watercolors of the action. Philly photographer Lisa Schaffer has been a Folk Fest fixture for as long as we’ve known her, and this year she presents us with the sights she saw; 56 images for the 56th Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival.

6. Download the audio for Pink Floyd’s flawless performance at The Spectrum in 1973 – March 15, 2017

The set list for this particular show, as with most others on the tour, consisted strictly of the tracks that made up Dark Side played consecutively from beginning to end. It’s a testament to the importance of the finely tuned narrative: even though it’s abstract, you need to hear it as a whole.

5. Questlove, Sheila E., Morris Day and PnB Rock will honor Prince with a free West Philly concert – August 24, 2017

When Prince passed away last year, he was eulogized by artists the world around — and one of the most devoted voice was from Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, drummer and bandleader of The Roots. Quest was a fan from a young age, and as he wrote in Rolling Stone essay last April, “I patterned everything in my life after Prince.” Next month, Questlove leads a loving tribute to the Purple One at the 2017 N2N Festival (Neighborhood to Neighborhood), and the performers joining him are no joke.

4. Dare to be Different: The importance of Philly’s WDRE, 20 years later – February 7, 2017

“I was on the stage, the whole staff was on stage and the kids in the front few rows were chanting ‘DRE’ and crying,” remembers McGuinn. “I don’t think I’ll see anything like it in radio again; the passion that the audience had for the music that we played on the station.”

3. Watch Chuck Berry jam with John Lennon on the Mike Douglas show in 1972 – March 19, 2017

Lennon, with Ono and their band, backed Berry for two songs, “Memphis, Tennessee,” “Johnny B. Goode,” and sat for an interview with Douglas together.
“If you had tried to try and give rock and roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry,” Lennon said in his intro to the legend.
Seated in the audience at this performance was XPN midday host Helen Leicht, who worked in the production department at KYW TV at the time — you can see her clapping along to “Johnny B. Goode” beginning at the 10:48 mark.

2. XPN Presents the 50 Greatest Guitarists of all time – April 21, 2017

Who’s the greatest guitarist of all time? That’s a question that has been debated and discussed endlessly over the years.

1. Since Jay-Z put out an album called 4:44, Jersey prog band 4:44 put out an album called Jay-Z – July 25, 2017

From the redonkulous news file this morning — a self-professed “shameless marketing technique” from a New Jersey prog / jam three-piece.

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