As 2023 draws to a close, I’m inclined to look back at some of the most memorable moments from the Indie Rock Hit Parade’s 10th anniversary year. We celebrated with new friends and old and welcomed genre legends alongside breakout up-and-comers.
Eric Schuman | photo by Paige Walter
WXPN Best of 2023: Six unforgettable Indie Rock Hit Parade Moments from the year
Host Eric Schuman reflects on standout sessions and specials from the show’s 10th year on the air at XPN.
1. Wednesday premiere new songs on the eve of Rat Saw God‘s release
As they arrived to our studios the afternoon of April 6th, Wednesday were buzzing with excitement. While I like to tell myself that they were super stoked to record a session for my show, that probably accounted for only 20-30% of their energy. The following day, the Asheville band would unleash Rat Saw God, which went on to become my favorite album of 2023. Hearing the new material live for the first time was a joy, and the band recently teamed up with Rough Trade to release the session on a limited run of 12″ vinyl. [WATCH / READ MORE]
2. Charlotte Adigéry and Bolis Pupul make us laugh, cry, dance, and think
Belgian electronic duo Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul were responsible for my favorite album of 2022, the revelatory Topical Dancer. Stopping by our studios when their tour finally brought them to the States in late March, Adigéry and Pupul transformed the performance space into a sleek disco. Watching Adigéry perform “HAHA,” the mesmerizing centerpiece to both their album and stage show, is something I won’t soon forget. [WATCH / READ MORE]
3. Jon Wurster takes us to drum school
If you’ve been listening to the Indie Rock Hit Parade for the last decade, first of all let me congratulate you on your dedication and endurance. Astute fans might notice that very few artists make return trips to the show, since I generally prefer to welcome in new faces and voices. Then again, there’s always something new to discuss with Jon Wurster. The longtime drummer for the Mountain Goats (and previously the longtime drummer for Superchunk), Wurster brings easy and witty conversation with every visit. This time I invited him to take the spotlight behind our studio’s house kit, demonstrating his versatile drum technique and reminiscing about his earliest days as a professional musician. [WATCH / READ MORE]
4. The Residents invite us into their world of WEIRD
Strictly speaking, this was not an Indie Rock Hit Parade session, but the unprecedented appearance of The Residents on our Free at Noon stage was brimming with IRHP spirit. In early March, with a vacant Friday looming, I suggested to Dan Reed that we reach out to the group to perform the afternoon before their show at the Foundry. He asked if I had a contact for the famously anonymous artists, and I responded, “As a matter of fact, I do.” The Residents’ spokesman, Homer Flynn, had previously been a guest on IRHP, and it was only a matter of time before the crowd at World Cafe Live witnessed one of America’s longest-running experimental outfits perform a career-spanning set. And no, I still don’t know who they are under those masks. [WATCH / READ MORE]
5. The Magnetic Fields play 69 Love Songs (and more) in a rare live set
Though their history and discography isn’t quite as long as The Residents’, there’s no denying that The Magnetic Fields are indie rock royalty. Playing to a sold-out World Cafe Live on Bastille Day, Stephin Merritt and his group performed songs from across their rich, beloved catalog. The set was highlighted by recent favorites from 2020’s Quickies, as well fan favorites from their iconic triple album, 69 Love Songs. That opus is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2024, which the band is set to celebrate with multi-night residencies in cities across the country. [LISTEN / READ MORE]
6. Indie Rock Hit Parade celebrates itself to mark 10 years on the air
Of course, I saved the most selfish one for last! When I started at XPN over a decade ago, one of the things I wanted to do was to bring back a show that I missed hearing on the air. Indie Rock Hit Parade was previously hosted by the wonderful Matt Reilly (now the Program Director at KUTX in Austin). I was a big fan of the mix of music I’d hear on the show and since rebooting IRHP in April 2013, the program has become my main creative focus. It was a real trip to reflect on the show’s first decade with Paige Walter. As it happens, IRHP crosses another milestone this week, with episode #500 looking back on all our sessions and specials from the past year. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that I’ve already got several special things planned for 2024…