40 Fall Arts Events in Philadelphia You Absolutely Can’t Miss

With the unofficial end of summer upon us, we pick the best concerts, plays, comedy nights, festivals and exhibits coming to Philly this season.
Adele | Simon Emmett

Adele | Photograph by Simon Emmett

1. Adele

It’s hard to believe it was just five years ago that the British gal with the soaring voice became a household name. These days, at 28, she’s the second-highest-paid female celebrity in the world (so says Forbes, which puts pride-of-Berks-County Taylor Swift in the top spot), and her two Philly shows this month are easily the hottest ticket in town. If you want in, it ain’t cheap; nosebleeds start at $225 on StubHub. September 9th and 10th, Wells Fargo Center. 

2. Corinne Bailey Rae

The Grammy-winning Brit revealed a new sound and a new attitude with her latest, The Heart Speaks in Whispers, an album that has drawn comparisons to early Erykah Badu. September 13th, Union Transfer.

3. Amy Schumer

She’s one of only 10 comedians who’ve sold out Madison Square Garden; we’ll see if she can do the same here. September 24th, Wells Fargo Center.

4. Sunset: o639 Hours

BalletX remounts its critically acclaimed 2014 work, which got rave reviews from the New York Times, among others. If you didn’t see it then, don’t miss it now. November 16th to 20th, Wilma Theater.

5. “Revolution”

Three dances from the Pennsylvania Ballet, including a new work by Philly choreographer Brian Sanders. November 10th to 13th, Merriam Theater.

The FringeArts Festival | Photograph by Brett Bailey

The FringeArts Festival | Photograph by Brett Bailey

6. The FringeArts Festival

Prepare for your mind to be blown by scores of edgy dance, theater and musical performances across the city. September 9th to 24th, various locations.

7. The Hooters

The annual fall shows from the hometown greats always sell out. November 4th and 5th, Keswick Theater.

8. Breathe Smoke

Playwright Douglas Williams penned this fourth installment from Philly theater collective Orbiter 3. It’s part theater, part rock concert. October 25th to November 2nd, Painted Bride.

9. Temple of the Dog

Expect pandemonium: The 1990s supergroup is only playing in five cities, and their shows here kick off the tour. November 4th and 5th, Tower Theater.

10. The Project Pabst Music Festival

A week of concerts presented by the beer company. One of our favorites: Johnny Showcase and Rumi Kitchen with Hammond B3 band, The Sermon, in a special concert at legendary Philadelphia dive bar Bob & Barbara’s. The bar has one of the largest collections of Pabst memorabilia we’ve ever seen. October 3rd through 8th, multiple locations.

11. Penn & Teller

Philly trivia: The shorter, silent half of the magic team graduated from Central High School. October 29th, Caesars.

12. Elvis Costello

An icon of New Wave. October 22nd, Borgata.

13. Marian Hill

The Haverford High grads in this sultry, jazz-infused electronic duo have quickly become local favorites. Download their recently released debut album, Act One, for a taste. October 14th, Union Transfer.

14. Yusuf Islam

The man formerly known as Cat Stevens in an intimate evening of stories and song. September 15th, Kimmel Center.

15. “Bill Graham and the Rock and Roll Revolution”

Concert posters, photographs, artifacts and memorabilia from the ’60s tell the story of the legendary Jewish-American impresario. September 16th to January 16th, National Museum of American Jewish History.

16. The Legend of Georgia McBride

Emmanuelle Delpech directs Pig Iron Theatre Company co-founder Dito van Reigersberg (a.k.a. gender bender Martha Graham Cracker) in a play about drag queens. October 13th to December 4th, Arden Theater.

17. When the Rain Stops Falling

The play that Time magazine called the best of 2010, directed by Blanka Zizka. Philly actors Taysha Canales and Brian Ratcliffe star. October 12th to November 6th, Wilma Theater.

Low Cut Connie | Photograph by David Norbut

Low Cut Connie | Photograph by David Norbut

18. Low Cut Connie

The high-energy local band saw a surge in popularity after President Obama revealed that their awesome track “Boozophilia” was on his Summer 2015 playlist. They put on a killer show. September 30th, Trocadero.

19. Yannick and Yuja

Our maestro and Curtis-schooled pianist extraordinaire Yuja Wang kick off the Philadelphia Orchestra’s season with Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. September 22nd to 24th, Kimmel Center.

20. Sigur Rós

A rare chance to see the Icelandic experimental outfit in such a prestigious venue. October 8th, Academy of Music.

Anthony Bourdain | Photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center

Anthony Bourdain | Photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center

21. Anthony Bourdain

The world’s most charming professional eater tells tales from his travels. October 26th, Academy of Music.

22. Suzanne Vega

Far from a nostalgia act, the singer-songwriter who brought us the 1987 smash “Luka” is still creating relevant music. Her latest, Lover, Beloved: Songs from an Evening with Carson McCullers, is due out in October. November 2nd, World Cafe Live.

23. Henry Rollins

Two nights with one of punk’s progenitors. October 22nd and 23rd, Trocadero.

24. This Is the Week That Is

1812 Productions’ incredible based-on-current-events political satire returns, and given the upcoming election, this year’s edition should be particularly, er, amusing? September 29th to November 7th, Plays & Players Theater.

25. “Robot Revolution”

This Google-sponsored exhibit may be the Franklin Institute’s coolest since the original “Body Worlds.” See the technology of the future, and try to beat a robot at tic-tac-toe while you’re there. October 8th to April 2nd, Franklin Institute.

Bridget Everett | Photograph by Ali Goldstein

Bridget Everett | Photograph by Ali Goldstein

26. Bridget Everett

A one-of-a-kind New York performer who marries alternative cabaret with seriously raunchy comedy. Not for the easily offended. November 4th, Fillmore.

27. Red Baraat

It’s always a dance party when this bhangra-meets-funk ensemble takes the stage. Look for Center City Jazz Festival producer Ernest Stuart on trombone. October 15th, Johnny Brenda’s.

28. “Neil deGrasse TYSON: An Astrophysicist Goes to the Movies”

One of the coolest scientists you’ll ever meet comes to town to tell you what Hollywood gets wrong—and right—on the screen. Maybe he can explain how to build a lightsaber. November 30th, Academy of Music.

29. Amos Lee

From Philly schoolteacher to soulful Academy of Music headliner—not too shabby. Check out his just-released album, Spirit; he says he wrote the new single “Vaporize” in the shower. September 11th, Academy of Music.

Breaking the Waves | Photograph by Marylene Mey

Breaking the Waves | Photograph by Marylene Mey

30. Breaking the Waves

Opera Philadelphia’s world premiere of a new work, based on the 1996 Lars von Trier film of the same name. September 22nd to October 1st, Kimmel Center.

31. AC/DC

Yes, it’s going to be way too loud. Yes, it’s going to be a bit of a train wreck. But we just can’t resist the urge to hear Axl Rose at the helm of the rock-and-roll powerhouse. Plus, it’s probably going to be the last time AC/DC ever tours. Just plan to take the next day off. September 20th, Wells Fargo Center.

32. Rock Allegiance Festival

For those about to rock, the soccer stadium in Chester gets invaded by Anthrax, Alice in Chains, Slayer, and many other bands who will make you wish you remembered earplugs. September 17th and 18th, Talen Energy Stadium.

Artwork from "Paint the Revolution" | Photograph by Maria Izquierdo

Artwork from “Paint the Revolution” | Photograph by Maria Izquierdo

33. “Paint the Revolution: Mexican Modernism”

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo are among the artists celebrated in this landmark exhibit. October 25th to January 8th, Philadelphia Museum of Art.

34. The Dead Milkmen

The Philly punk heroes (remember “Bitchin’ Camaro” and “Punk Rock Girl”?) in a spooky urban cemetery? Hells yeah. September 30th, Laurel Hill Cemetery.

35. Julianna Barwick

We can’t stop listening to the lush ambient sounds of the Louisiana native, now based in Brooklyn, so we won’t miss the chance to see her perform live. Philly harpist Mary Lattimore opens. October 8th, PhilaMOCA.

36. Mrs. Warren’s Profession

Beloved local stage veteran Mary Martello takes the lead in the Lantern Theater Company production of the George Bernard Shaw classic. September 8th to October 9th, St. Stephen’s Theater.

37. Stupid Fucking Bird

Aaron Posner’s irreverent “sort-of adaptation” of Chekhov’s The Seagull enjoys a one-month run in Old City. Listen for original songs by Philadelphia composer James Sugg. September 15th to October 16th, Arden Theater.

The Head and the Heart | Photograph by James Minchin

The Head and the Heart | Photograph by James Minchin

38. The Head and the Heart

Buy a ticket to see the Seattle-based indie folk favorite and get a free copy of their third album, Signs of Light. October 23rd, Fillmore.

39. Rizzo

The return of Bruce Graham’s whirlwind 2015 success, with Best of Philly-winning theater talent Scott Greer reprising the role of the controversial Philadelphia mayor. September 23rd to October 16th, Suzanne Roberts Theatre.

40. Beyoncé

Less than four months after she dazzled the sold-out Linc crowd, she’ll do it again. Truly a spectacle to behold. September 29th, the Linc.

Published as “Fall Arts Preview” in the September 2016 issue of Philadelphia magazine.