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.”
Streetlight Manifesto/Mephiskapheles @ Electric Factory
Long ago, there were so many horn-powered, ska-punning band names it was a cliché and a bad party game — “Oh, yeah? Well once I saw Ska’d Baio and Joanie Love Ska-chi open for Skarles In Skarge!” — but now it’s really just Mephiskapheles, still holdin’ it down for those who like to skank for the devil. Veteran Jersey band Streetlight Manifesto is the headliner. I have nothing to say about their name.
Gov’t Mule @ Tower Theater
Allman Brothers alums Warren Haynes and Allen Woody are still carrying the torch for southern rock.
Les Hautes Solitudes @ Lightbox Film Center
This 1974 by Philippe Garrel is “a moving, entirely silent portrait of Jean Seberg in her Paris apartment, over a decade removed from her icon-making performance in Breathless, and a few tragic years before her early death.”
Dirty Dancing — The Classic Story On Stage @ The Merriam
The ’80s dance romance done live, soundtrack intact. “I’ve got you in my sights with these hungry eyes. One look at you and I can’t disguise. I’ve got hungry eyes.” Eric Carmen was either in love or a werewolf.
Loni Love @ Punchlines
Standup by the comedian/actor/electrical engineer. May 19-20.
Philadelphia Orchestra @ Kimmel Center
A performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony featuring mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill and the women of the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir. Through May 21.
Hail, Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll: A Tribute To Chuck Berry @ Connie’s Ric Rac
Adam Brodsky and TC Cole host a busy bill featuring Rev. TJ McGlinchey, Col. Mike Tyler, Children of Pompeii, Sheena and Thee Nosebleeds, Griz and lots more paying respects to the departed rock pioneer.
Brad Paisley @ BB&T Pavilion, Camden
That tone-deaf “Accidental Racist” debacle probably would’ve destroyed a lesser man, but Paisley’s still out there, playing non-bro country for large audiences on both sides of the Mason-Dixon. For a popular country artist, they say, Paisley’s a fairly enlightened dude. As for his fans, well, you’ll get the picture on your way through the parking lot.
Alien: Covenant @ local theaters
I saw this last night at the Riverview. It was good enough. But listen, something suddenly occurred to me about this beloved sci-fi/horror series: The people are the aliens. It’s not like the aliens are building ships, hell-bent on invading Earth. (AVP ain’t canon.) It’s always some single mom just minding her own business, trying to raise her face-huggers and chest-bursters the best she can. Then all these humans start showing up with their flamethrowers and terraformers to gentrify the place. So of course there’s gonna be a period of adjustment/bloodbath.
The Arsonists @ Louis Bluver Theatre at the Drake
Says theater critic David Fox: “Now that’s what I can an entrance! Actress Sarah Gliko bursts through the door, disposes of a body in a bag, nearly destroys a ramshackle cabin in the Florida swamps, and says about a dozen words (well, mostly she says, ‘Fuck!’). And that’s just the first minute or so. This high-voltage start to Jacqueline Goldfinger’s spellbinding new play The Arsonists put me in mind of a kind of gender-reversed Sam Shepard — especially Shepard’s early collaborative work with Patti Smith. (The Arsonists also incorporates mournful songs and hymns, delivered with piercing authenticity by Gliko and Steven Rishard, playing ‘H.’) As in Shepard, there is a sense that love, loss, and betrayal are inseparable.” Through May 21.
Aries Spears @ Helium
Standup comedy by the MadTV alum. Through May 20.
West Philly Orchestra/Hardwork Movement @ Johnny Brenda’s
Two of Philly’s finest team up for the all-Philly feel-good show of the season. WPO does Balkan brass party music. Hardwork Movement does soulful hip-hop party music.
The Latecomer: An Anthology of Edgar Allan Poe @ Laurel Hill Cemetery
The Mechanical Theater — a company which embraces Philly’s “rich and often dark history by developing theater projects tailor-made for its unique, historical settings” — does Poe in one of this city’s most celebrated burying grounds. BYO lawnchair/blanket/beverages. Through May 20.
Mike Lenert @ Brewerytown Beats
The frontman of Philly rock bands Caterpillar and Lettuce Prey celebrates the release of his first book of poetry, Turnip in the Mud. He’ll also play some music.
Fire Walk With Me @ PhilaMOCA
The complete 3.5 hour cut of David Lynch’s big-screen Twin Peaks headscratcher. The Saturday screening is sold out. (But wait, The Prince is showing the 135-minute version on Saturday night.)
SATURDAY, MAY 20
Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby & Arts Festival @ Trenton Ave., Morris to Dauphin
The forecast says it’ll be sunny and 72 degrees — perfect weather for this universally beloved and quintessentially Philly annual event. It’s a neighborhood festival, with food and activities and such, but the Derby is the main event. Local nutballs race around on custom-made, pedal-powered vehicles to the delight and amazement of the crowd.
Making Time @ Underground Arts
Dave P.’s endless vagabond party continues, this time with live performances by Jessy Lanza, Jacques Greene, Red Axes and more.
Cool Car Show @ 2068 Red Lion Road
Oldies station WOGL hosts a free car show in the Northeast. There’s also food trucks, carnival games and other stuff like that.
Fringe-A-Thon @ Blue Cross Riverrink
DJs Cosmo Baker, Royale, Dame Luz, Lee Jones, Rahsaan and Lil’dave will provide the soundtrack for this “epic outdoor, 12-hour dance-party-marathon” that raises money for FringeArts and other city arts orgs.
Ty Segall @ The Trocadero
You can count on Ty Segall. All these records — solo and with a slew of pop-up bands — and no duds. Just snazzy rock hooks and high, mighty vocals. P.S. Show up in time to see noisy Philadelphians Purling Hiss.
The Dream Syndicate @ World Café Live
Steve Wynn’s cult-favorite alt-rock act from the ’80s, reunited since 2012. Make sure to get there in time to check out Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band.
MMR*B*Q 2017 @ BB&T Pavilion in Camden
Philly’s classic rock-plus station delivers a loud and large lineup for this edition of its annual festival: Godsmack, Live, Bush, The Pretty Reckless, The Struts, Zakk Sabbath, Rival Sons, Dinosaur Pile-Up and Stolen Rhodes. One should expect multiple Chris Cornell toasts and tributes.
Capitol Steps @ Keswick
The long-running comedy troupe pokes good-natured, bipartisan fun at politics in sketch and song. Apparently the members have actual Beltway experience. Just don’t expect anything particularly cutting.
Skating Polly @ Kung Fu Necktie
Oklahoma step-siblings Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse do fierce, catchy indie pop that woulda crushed it on WDRE back in the day. I bet you’ll have a blast. Listen:
Philadelphia Record Riot @ District N9NE
Crate-diggers and vinyl fetishists, roll out.
Bush Tetras @ Johnny Brenda’s
Seems like the music stays the same but the tags keep piling up: no-wave, new-wave, dance-punk, post-punk, punk-funk. “Legendary” and “influential” are also solid descriptors for a New York band that tried to warn us back in 1981 about the growing creep problem.
BioPool Build Day @ Bartram’s Garden
The Ecotopian Toolmakers Program leads a “new bioremediation project” wherein volunteers can help “assemble and launch the floating garden/water restoration system.” It looks like a fancy swim club for turtles but it’s really some kind of water cleaning apparatus.
Italian Market Festival @ Ninth and Washington
Highlights of this huge, multi-block neighborhood festival include food, music, a handball tournament, the Procession of Saints, food and more. Just so much food. Saturday and Sunday.
Pop Roulette @ Good Good Comedy
The NYC musical comedy group brings its Amazing Earth show to Good Good for one night only.
Kids’ Literary Festival @ Big Blue Marble Bookstore
This giant fest features a slew of kid-lit/YA authors, including Amy, Alex London, Judy Schachner, Sandy Asher and tons more. Frog and Toad will also be there.
Cy Twombly’s Iliad @ Philadelphia Museum of Art
Fifty Days at Iliam, revisited. Runs through Oct. 8.
MST3K’s The Mads! @ The Colonial Theatre, Phoenixville
Live movie riffing by Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu, aka TV’s Frank and Dr. Forrester/Crow T. Robot of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
SUNDAY, MAY 21
Nirvanish @ Kung Fu Necktie
This Nirvana tribute act boasts an impressive set list from Bleach to Unplugged and they don’t sound too shabby. Or, they sound just shabby enough.
Five Dollar Comedy Week @ Good Good Comedy
Seven nights of new comedy shows for only five bucks a pop, with lots of free secret shows thrown in. May 21-27.
Against Nature @ Boot & Saddle
I’m not really sure what this “Music and Art Collab” entails, but it does feature performances by The Gravies, Here/Now, Hoser and Worst Ones.
Philadelphia Songwriters Project 2017 Finals Showcase @ Ardmore Music Hall
Local artists compete for fabulous prizes in this afternoon showcase showdown.
Lewis Watson @ World Café Live
Thoughtful, radio-ready folk-pop by the young British singer-songwriter.