Nightlands plays Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday. (Dustin Condren)
Macy Gray @ Ardmore Music Hall | Thursday, May 25
Macy Gray remains one of the most unique voices in R&B, and I’m not just talking about those fine sandpaper vocals. In case you missed it, her recent standalone track “White Man” is the kind of fierce you can dance to. Warning: 1 out 100 people who see this video will get offended. The other 99 will be into it.
Chris Kasper @ World Café Live | Thursday, May 25
The local folky/bluesy singer-songwriter celebrates the release of O, the Fool. They’re streaming it over at Folk Alley, and it’s giving me a classic, weary, early-Springsteen vibe. I can’t seem to embed anything from the new record, so here’s an oldie but a goodie. Read more »
It’s getting weird. (Adult Swim)
Maybe it’s because I came of age in the alt/indie ’90s — where friends called their friends sellouts like kids diming out their parents to the Stasi — but I’m always a little wary when popular things explode into multi-platform franchises.
I’m okay with something subtle, like a Credit Dauphine tee or a Weyland Yutani mug. And I’m definitely cool with the Golden Girls Clue game (ignoring the creepy Sophia on the box), mostly because I want to accuse somebody of murder on the lanai. Read more »
Ty Segall plays the Troc on Saturday. (Denée Petracek)
FRIDAY, MAY 19
Happy Birthday @ Plays & Players Theatre
Says theater critic David Fox: “Marc Camoletti’s play, a huge hit in London in the ’70s, has acquired the patina of a period piece, something of a send-up on the silliness of middle-aged swingers. I’d say that only adds to the fun, especially when it looks as smashing as here, played on Lance Kniskern’s luxe living room set, which somehow manages to be both chicly elegant, and a louche bachelor pad. But the virtuosity of a farce really is in the performing. Director Trey Lyford has a masterful sense of staging and energizes the hell out of Happy Birthday; mostly, this pays off.” Through May 21.
Laura Marling @ TLA
It’s petty, but I never liked the idea of Laura Marling hanging out with that Mumford crowd. Those pedialyte folk-pop jingles, that grandpa fashion sense — it’s no place for a singer-songwriter with real promise. With each record, the British-born/L.A.-based Marling explores new territory and re-focuses her formidable, increasingly conversational songwriting skills. On the new Semper Femina, she explores the subject of womanhood, from friends to frienemies and beyond. P.S. It’s invigorating to hear this once rigidly delicate performer wrap her lips around the F-word on “Wild Fire.”
Read more »
Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer star in the Best Picture-nominated film.
This sounds like a nice, nice-weather, family-friendly event. BYO blanket or lawn chair to a free, outdoor screening of the 2016 Best Picture-nominated film. And if you want a beer, there are a couple places nearby that’ll sell you one. (But I’m not seeing any fine print that says you can’t bring your own refreshments.)
Hidden Figures tells the true story of the African American women mathematicians who worked for NASA during some of the most crucial years of the space program. The film was a commercial and critical success last year, with Octavia Spencer earning an Oscar nom and a Golden Globe win for her portrayal of “human computer” Dorothy Vaughan. Hidden Figures also stars Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monae (!), Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons and Mahershala Ali. Read more »
That movie you pretended to understand is coming back in style.
Dive Bar Secrets @ The Barbary | Wednesday, May 17
Comedy at the Barbary presents standup comic Chris Cotton. The dude recorded a comedy mixtape. Why don’t more people do that? Listen on Spotify.
Tell Me A Story @ Shot Tower Coffee | Wednesday, May 17
Hilary Rea’s storytelling series celebrates its sixth anniversary with true stories by Kathleen Ackert, Julie Hancher, R. Eric Thomas and more. The topic is “Six Degrees.” Read more »
Scottish trio The xx — tragically conjoined following a hair product mishap in 2015 — plays the Mann’s Skyline Stage on Wednesday. (Alasdair McLellan)
The xx @ The Mann | Wednesday, May 17
Wouldn’t it all be so dreadful — the profound sparseness of the sound, the oft-declared shyness of the players, the lowercase — if The xx sucked? Lucky for them, and for us, this British electronic pop trio is kind of amazing. Released in January, their third record I See You pretty much cemented their status as a band of note, with singer Romy Madley Croft (omg that’s her middle name) reaching new emotional heights and depths. At this show under the stars, contemplative ecstasy will stream through the crowd like neutrinos.
Charly Bliss @ Boot & Saddle | Wednesday, May 17
Yeah, Charly Bliss is pretty ’90s. NPR nailed the namechecks — Weezer, Veruca Salt , Letters To Cleo — in its review of the band’s debut record, Guppy. But there’s too much joy in what Charly Bliss does do to dismiss them as merely retro. I’d been listening to The xx all morning before I put these guys on and it was a revelation: Oh yeah, rock ’n’ roll can be fun. Read more »
Ron Gallo plays with Baskery, Laura Marling and Real Estate on Thursday. (Lindsey Michelle Gardner)
WXPN’s annual NON-COMMvention is really an insidery type deal — a place for music programmers from non-commercial/independent/triple-A radio stations from all over the country to gather for panel discussions and performances by big-name talent. Every night (and some afternoons) from May 17 to 19 features acts with new or coming-soon records. Some of them never play a venue this small.
But Pat, you say, I’m not in the biz. How can I see Wednesday’s Blondie/Ani Difranco/Chicano Batman gig, for example?
Check it out: There are still some tickets available for XPN members. And if you’re not one, I bet you know one.
HERE’S THE FULL LINEUP: Read more »
Marc Maron plays the Merriam Theater on Friday.
FRIDAY, MAY 12
Marc Maron @ Merriam Theater
If you only know him as the host of WTF and the star of Maron on IFC, you’re not getting the whole picture. His thoughtfully acerbic standup shows are a stream-of-consciousness maelstrom of conflicting thoughts and anecdotes that make you laugh at the strangest things.
Nichole Canuso Dance Company @ The Bok
Even if you’re not a dance fan, you gotta admit this sounds excellent: “The Garden of Forking Path is a movement and sound installation that leads audience members via audio prompts on a headset through a sprawling fabric labyrinth.” Multiple performances on Friday and Saturday. Read more »
From the poster for Never Too Young To Die (1986) starring Vanity and John Stamos, a past Philadelphia Psychotronic Selection. The lineup for Friday’s Action Movie Marathon is a mystery.
True, “psychotronic” has an easily Googled definition: “a genre of movies, typically with a science fiction, horror, or fantasy theme, that were made on a low budget or poorly received by critics.” But fans of the form might tell you it’s more of a “I know it when I see it” kind of situation.
The Philadelphia outpost of Psychotronic Film Society — there are iterations all over the world — has been operating for about a year, offering free, BYOB screenings of forgotten/forgettable screen gems to a growing fanbase. This Friday’s Action Movie Marathon seemed like a good excuse to talk to PPFS co-founder Eric Bresler, whom you might already know as the director/curator at PhilaMOCA and programmer of the Cinedelphia film fest. Turns out he was in Japan… Read more »
Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff of the My Favorite Murder podcast play the Keswick on Sunday.
Style of Attack Report @ Vox Populi | Wednesday, May 10
Philly sci-fi collective Metropolarity celebrates the release of Style of Attack Report, an anthology of sci-fi/futurist writing. The evening includes readings by Rasheedah Phillips, Camae Ayewa, Alex Smith and more.
Full Moon Ride @ around town | Wednesday, May 10
Meet up with other bicyclists at the Italian Fountain at the Lloyd Hall parking lot on Boathouse Row. Ends at the El Bar in Fishtown. Read more »