Live Review: Faye Webster/Upchuck – Franklin Music Hall, Philadelphia, PA 21.10.2023

Faye Webster at Franklin Music Hall - October 2023

When Courtney Barnett hand-picked artists that she admires for her traveling “Here And There” festival Faye Webster was on the list. Last summer she took the stage between Lucy Dacus, Bartees Strange, The Beths and Barnett herself. At that time, Faye was touring to support her 2021 album I Know I’m Funny Haha, along with two EPs – Live at Electric Lady and Car Therapy Sessions. She’s been quite prolific over these past few years and is keeping up the pace with this Fall tour and more new songs. 

Faye Webster in Philadelphia October 2023
Faye Webster performing at Franklin Music Hall – Philadelphia, PA – 21.10.2023
photo by Deb Johnsen

Atlanta punk band Upchuck opened Saturday night’s show at Philadelphia’s sold-out Franklin Music Hall. Not always the most obvious choice to warm-up for a singer/songwriter. Their just-released new album, Bite The Hand That Feeds (yes, can’t help thinking of NIN) was produced by Ty Segall – weirdly enough. It turns out that they are a Southern hardcore garage band with strong connections to the indie pop scene. Frontwoman KT barreled onstage with an unstoppable energy, egging on the audience and her band to let loose. Guitar player Mikey dove over the barrier and crowd surfed for a frenzied minute, bringing up the temperature in the packed wall-to-wall venue.

Upchuck performing at Franklin Music Hall – Philadelphia, PA – 21.10.2023
photo by Deb Johnsen

Faye Webster is as artful and ethereal as Upchuck is chaotic. But, somehow it worked as an interesting juxtaposition.  Webster hit the stage with her memorable new single “But Not Kiss” a song that deftly plays with tension. Her delicate voice continually countered by a punctuated piano line, before hitting the powerful “yeah, yeah” vocal riff. 

She then leaned into I Know I’m Funny Haha for the dreamy, Laurel Canyon twang of “Better Distractions” and “Kind Of”. Faye ponders a crush with her audience singing along, “How did I fall in love with someone I don’t know?” in “A Dream With a Baseball Player” her sweet, laid-back ode to Atlanta Braves Right Fielder Ronald Acuña Jr. 

Her fans are young and adoring (some still chaperoned by parents). The fact that Faye self-released her first album at the age of sixteen is clearly inspiring. You could hear and feel their excitement (even before she took the stage).

In a move that was unapologetically geeky and endearing, she led her band in “Eterna City” a jazzy instrumental piece from Pokémon. This was followed by two new songs – the airy single “Lifetime” and mellow, melodic “Wilco Type Beat”. Jeff Tweedy would no doubt approve.

She closed the show with “Kingston” from her 2019 album Atlanta Millionaires Club as the crowd swayed to the chorus “Baby tell me where you want to go/Baby tell me what you want to know…”  Webster has found her own path. Laying her strengths and insecurities atop her own version of what the legendary Gram Parsons called “cosmic American music”.

All photos by Deb Johnsen

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