The Wednesday night crowd at World Cafe Live was abuzz and excited for XPNfest alum and four-time Grammy nominee Allison Russell to take the stage. The singer-songwriter came through Philly for a soldout midweek performance and, despite the cold outside temperature, the stage was thankfully much drier than when she was in town for the festival in September.
While there wasn’t an opening band on the bill, members of the “Rainbow Coalition” (Allison Russell’s band) performed some of their own music to start the night. Ganessa James was first out to do a couple solo songs then she brought out Elenna Canias and Yissy Garcia.
Allison Russell is up for four Grammys this year with her newest album The Returner. She has been nominated for “Best Americana Album”, “Best Americana performance”; the album’s title track “The Returner” is up for “Best American Roots Song” and “Eve Was Black” is up for “Best American Roots Performance,” which was performed third in the set Wednesday night.
The first time Russell picked up her clarinet at the beginning of the show, you could feel the audience perk up; as the night went on, fans danced and clapped along, whether it was the gospel-infused “Demons” or the discofied “Stay Right Here.” The night came to a close with “Nightflyer,” which is the song Russell says started her career, and “Hy-Brasil,” which got a big reaction when she put the encore options up to a vote. Although it seemed as though her fans would have stayed out all night if she’d kept playing.