In our feelings with Madi Diaz - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Madi Diaz took center stage in her home state, returning to the World Cafe Live Wednesday evening hot on the heels of her latest release, Weird Faith, which had only hit the shelves a few weeks prior. In an interview with WXPN’s Sean Fennell, Diaz talked about the album as a reflection of her creative and personal journey, the ups and downs we all experience, and the perseverance it takes to stay the course, and that was reflected in her performance as well as her storytelling between songs.

The night kicked off with Olivia Barton, whose folk-pop melodies set the perfect tone for the evening. As Barton’s voice filled the room with its sweet serenades, anticipation for the main act mounted. With just one more song left in her set, Barton urged the audience to close their eyes and join her in singing “I Love You Just for Trying.” We did our best to harmonize, but Barton’s vocal prowess shone through, leaving us in awe.

Olivia Barton | photo by Abigail Biddinger for WXPN

As the house speakers filled with Harry Styles’ tunes, the excitement for Diaz’s performance grew. It was a fitting choice, considering she had once opened for Styles during his Love on Tour run in 2022. The connection between them was evident as attendees sang along to Styles’ songs, likely discovering her music through him, or perhaps the other way around. Regardless of how we found her, Diaz’s work all brought us together that evening.

Finally, the moment arrived. The lights dimmed, the music shifted, and Cass Elliot’s “Make Your Own Kind of Music” filled the air. Drummer Adam Popick took his place, signaling Diaz’s entrance. Dressed in all white and wielding her electric hollowbody guitar, she launched into “Same Risk,” the opening track from her new album. Throughout her performance, fans held up paper hearts, a gesture of admiration for Diaz’s ability to lay bare the complexities of life in her music. Touched by the display, she jokingly quipped, “You’re not supposed to make me cry this early.”

Madi Diaz | photo by Abigail Biddinger for WXPN

Sharing a personal anecdote, Diaz revealed that the Hampton Inn on Race St was the birthplace of “Everything, Almost.” Reflecting on a vivid dream she had, she delved into the theme of embracing uncertainty, or what she coined as “weird faith.” Giving credit to her dad’s wife for inspiring the song, Diaz acknowledged the wisdom in her words.

The performance of “Don’t Do Me Good,” Weird Faith‘s second single, showcased her powerhouse vocals, leaving the audience captivated. Despite the absence of her collaborator Kasey Musgraves, Diaz delivered the song with such finesse that Musgrave’s harmonies weren’t sorely missed. With a knack for finding humor in adversity, Diaz shared her unique take on post-breakup life during “Girlfriend,” eliciting laughter from the crowd.

Reflecting on her journey, Diaz spoke of her 2021 album, History Of A Feeling, born from the depths of her career’s lowest point. As she and Popick exchanged smiles during “Nervous,” it was evident that they were still processing the whirlwind of the past few years. His impeccable percussion complemented Diaz’s melodies, particularly in the climactic moments of “Obsessive Thoughts” and “Resentment.”

Madi Diaz | photo by Abigail Biddinger for WXPN

A natural storyteller, Madi interwove engaging insights and lighthearted jokes throughout the show. Sharing memories and anecdotes, she connected with the audience, some of whom hailing from her home region of Lancaster County. Since she grew up not too far out of Philadelphia, her connection to the city and the music scene goes as far back, like her 2008 appearance on the XPoNential Music Festival lineup. Beyond her music, Diaz used her platform to advocate for women and the queer community, she stated, “the way we love and live is not being protected,” urging the audience to take this easy step to get more informed and also win a signed setlist, little actions like this go a long way. While Diaz used her platform to give us knowledge, a fan gifted her a horse cap, an ode to her love for the animal.

As the night drew to a close, she kept it real: “you guys know I’m just gonna come back right, but lets pretend like this was the last song.” The reality check had the audience caught off guard and laughing at the silliness behind an pre-planned encore. No one was surprised by her return but maybe by Olivia Barton’s, who was beside her for a special duet on the second to last song “New Person, Old Place,” but the audience pleaded for more. Leaving the venue that night — to the booming tones of Limp Bizkit’s cover of “Faith” by George Michael, a very silly and appropriate choice — we carried with us a weird faith in Madi and her promising future in the industry. Though she’s already achieved much, it feels like she’s only just begun her ascent to even greater heights.

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