38 Can’t Miss Concerts in Early 2016

Good reasons to brave the cold.

Pink Martini plays Scottish Rite Auditorium on March 10.

Pink Martini plays Scottish Rite Auditorium on March 10.

Memories of champagne-soaked New Year’s celebrations are already fading fast: It’s time to start planning your next moves. You can start here, with our list of the 38 concerts that promise to be so good you’ll be happy to brave the cold, dark night for some great music.

January | February | March | April | May


January 14: Fetty Wap, French Montana, Wale and Logic

The postponed Homecoming Owlchella concert has finally arrived and includes — in addition to headliner Fetty Wap — French Montana, Wale and Logic. Wobbly-voiced hip-hop star, Fetty Wap (born Willie Maxwell II), killed it with hit singles — “Trap Queen,” “679,” “My Way,” “Again” — that skyrocketed up the charts even before he’d even released his self-titled debut studio album in late September. Recently, Fetty was back in the headlines for getting snubbed by the Grammys’ Best New Artist category. He did receive nominations for best rap performance and rap song for “Trap Queen.” If you can’t get tickets to this one, he’ll be back February 11 (see below). Liacouras Center, 1776 N. Broad Street, 215-204-2400

January 15: The Knocks

Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to cut loose. The New York duo Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson creates a feel-good dance-disco atmosphere, which they describe as “retro-futurism.” Their latest EP, So Classic, dropped last fall with five killer dance tracks, with “Classic” (featuring Powers and the aforementioned Fetty Wap) getting the most attention. Their live disco-funk sets boast infectious dance floor bangers like“Dancing with the DJ,” “The One” and “The Feeling.” The Foundry, The Fillmore, 29 East Allen Street, 215-309-0150

January 16: Lamb of God

Devotees are ecstatic over the return of this veteran metal band. Back in 2012, it looked like the band might never play again — anywhere. In his memoir Dark Days, published last summer, lead singer Randy Blythe recounts a harrowing experience when he and his band landed in Prague to play a gig: He was removed from the plane by Czech police, charged with manslaughter of a teenage fan during a show two years prior, and ended up being held in notorious Pankrác Prison for 38 days. Blythe was finally released and later exonerated at trial. The band’s latest album, VII: Sturm and Drang, has references to Blythe’s Czech experiences, including songs “Still Echoes” and “512,” his cell number. This show’s lineup includes elder statesmen of metal Anthrax, shoe-gazing metal rockers, Deafheaven and the punk-influenced Power Trip. It’s a refreshing blend of metal sub-genres that should make for a diverse show. Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh Street, 215-627-1332

January 23-24: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

This pair is so popular they’re in town for two nights. We’re still waiting for their follow-up album to 2012’s Grammy winning debut studio album, The Heist. The Seattle hip-hop duo — rapper Macklemore, real name Ben Haggerty, and producer/DJ Ryan Lewis — have released three tracks in the meantime: “Downtown” (with hip-hop forefather Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz and Foxy Shazam’s high-pitched Eric Nally), “Growing Up (Sloane’s Song),” and “Kevin.” The last one, which they performed in November at the American Music Awards with R&B singer Leon Bridges, deals with the abuse of prescription meds — something Macklemore has dealt with personally. Tower Theatre, S. 69th Street and Ludlow Street, Upper Darby, 610-352-2887

January 23: Ratatat

Promoting last summer’s Magnifique album, this instrumentalist duo — Brooklyn’s Evan Mast on synthesizer and Mike Stroud on guitars — creates an ever unfurling aural kaleidoscope of electronica chill-pop during their shows. There’s Daft Punk and Kraftwerk lurking somewhere in Ratatat’s synth-heavy DNA. Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh Street, 215-627-1332

January 23: The Go! Team

The Go! Team’s sound is an upbeat, fizzy shambles that has been compared to melting down all your favorite party records into one astounding piece of vinyl. Ian Parton calls it an eclectic mash-up of his favorite things: guitars of Sonic Youth, breaks from old school hip-hop, ’70s TV themes, car chase horns, double dutch jump-roping chants, Charlie Brown piano, and peppy melodies. The jubilant DIY sound — “Ladyflash” and “Huddle Formation” — is matched by an athletic show. Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill Street

January 23: Miami Horror

This Melbourne dance-disco-pop group blends an array of unexpected ’80s influences like New Order, ELO and disco-era Michael Jackson. Listen to “Love Like Mine” and you hear an M.J. — or maybe it’s Quincy Jones — type of syncopation. Tune into “Sometimes” and you can almost hear Peter Hook’s signature high bass line. It’s all good stuff and no doubt this band, fronted by DJ Benjamin Plant, has excellent musical taste. The band is sure to play tracks off last year’s All Possible Futures album. Coda, 1712 Walnut Street, 267-639-4630

January 26: Oh Wonder

Oh Wonder sold out Boot & Saddle within minutes of going on sale this fall, so the gig has been moved to the bigger Union Transfer. The two members of OW, British singer-songwriters Josephine Vander Gucht and Anthony West, built an internet following in 2014 when they resolved to — and did — write and release a new song each month on Soundcloud for one year. The finale was bundling them all, plus a few more tracks, into their debut self-titled album that they released this past September. They’ve been playing live shows for the first time since then, but have consistently been selling out venues on their international tour. These mellow alternative-pop songs are just right for snuggling up with your honey or chilling out after a wonder-less day at work. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100

January 29: The Smithereens

These New Jersey boys know how to power rock it. Loyal to the classic rock genre, the band hasn’t wavered in its 30 years of garage-band style music. Classics like “Only a Memory” and “Blood and Roses” define the Smithereens’ style of rough pop sound. World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut Street, 215-222-1400

January 31: Muse

Brit power-rock band, Muse, has launched their Drones World Tour, and it will be something spectacular to behold. Muse plays “in the round” with a fleet of 16 large and intimidating drones orbiting the band as well as an army of visual effects. Taking a few cues from Pink Floyd’s “The Wall,” Muse’s album and tour concept address societal oppression, military aggression and other soul-destroying stuff. Hard prog-rocking, soaring anthems, lasers, walls of guitar feedback — even some Gregorian style chanting — and glorious bombast are all on view here. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600

January 31: Ryan Bingham

Here’s some cowboy music to love. Hailing from Texas, Ryan Bingham got people’s attention back in 2009 with his bittersweet song “The Weary Kind,” co-written with T Bone Burnett. That was for the soundtrack to the Jeff Bridges movie Crazy Heart and it won the gravely-voiced Bingham an Oscar, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice Award and Grammy. Bingham’s cowboy-cred as a former ranch-hand and rodeo star paired with his laid-back charm gives him a stage persona so big he might have walked off a Hollywood set. His most recent album, Fear and Saturday Night, is filled with stories of struggle, hard work and scraping by. He wrote it alone in the mountains of California, staying in an Airstream trailer from the 1950s. Just what we’d expect from this cool cowboy. TLA, 334 South Street, 215-922-1011


February 6: Lianne La Havas

Neo-soul chanteuse Lianne La Havas’s voice is pure magic. For those unfamilar with the 26-year-old from South London, think Adele or Amy Winehouse on her best day. Yeah, she’s that good. Just listen to “What You Don’t Do,” “Gone” or “Unstoppable.” Prince agrees. She peformed on his album and with him in concert. So does Robert Plant who asked her to open for him on tour. Her second album, Blood, dropped last summer full of sophisticated love songs from this fierce heart. Ortlieb’s 847 N Third Street, 267-324-3348

February 11: Fetty Wap

Twice-already mentioned hip-hop star Fetty Wap brings his “Welcome to the Zoo” tour, with Post Malone and Monty, to the Fillmore just two days before the Grammys. Despite being snubbed by the nominating committee for Best New Artist, he could still win best rap performance and rap song for “Trap Queen.” Besides that jawn, he’ll likely do his hits featuring Monty: “679,” “My Way,” and “Jugg.” The Fillmore, 29 East Allen Street, 215-309-0150

February 12: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Boss is back. For most fans that’s really all you need to know. But here’s some context anyway: Columbia Records released The Ties That Bind: The River Collection last month, a set that includes 52 songs, four hours of never-seen video and a big glossy book. During the show, the band will play an in-sequence performance of The River. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600

February 19: Animal Collective

Known for its trippy harmonies, alt-pop flavor, pumped-up synths and busy song styling, Animal Collective continues to explore creative boundaries. Philly’s lucky because the band is scheduled to drop its tenth studio album, Painting With, the same night as this show. The band has said that the new record dumps the band’s signature (but now trendy) reverb effects and drawn-out musical sections. Can’t wait to see what the Collective comes up with this go-round. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100

February 20: The Loved Ones

Revered Philadelphia pop-punk band The Loved Ones reunites to honor the 10-year anniversary of its critically acclaimed self-titled 2005 EP. David Hause’s scruffy vocals + hard-charging punk rhythms = a raucous good time. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100

February 21: Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter’s new album, Sermon on the Rock, reflects happier times for the singer songwriter who was still processing his emotions on 2013’s The Beast in its Tracks, a break-up album inspired by his divorce. Described as a purveyor of “indie-Americana,” Ritter has an earnest stage presence befitting a performer from Idaho and delivers heartfelt ballads and folksy storytelling. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100

February 22: Carrie Underwood

She’s come a long way from her 2005 American Idol victory. Having established herself as one of country music’s reigning divas, Carrie Underwood is in her element at big arena concerts. This fall, she released her fifth-album Storyteller. At 32, her musical delivery is maturing and making way for more variety in how she presents her country storytelling odes to heartbreak. She can still go full-lung as in 2012’s power anthem “Blown Away,” but with age she seems to welcome more subtlety, not just pure power. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600

February 24: Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson, now age 49, is no longer the sweet-cheeked ’80s ingenue of the Jackson clan, but instead she shows us a pop legend in full command singing hit after hit — “Nasty” “Control,” “That’s the Way Love Goes,” “Rhythm Nation,” “When I Think of You,” “Escapade,” “Scream” — during this 90-minute show bursting with dance-pop classics from the vaults. Jackson dropped her latest album, Unbreakable, in October so she’s also weaving some new tracks into the set list, including the slow jamming “No Sleeep,” and funked-out “BURNITUP!” with the always amazing Missy Elliott. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600 UPDATE: Sorry Ms. Jackson fans, this show’s actually August 24. Our bad. 

February 28: Naughty by Nature


Naughty by Nature. Not cause I hate ya. The Grammy winning funky hip-hop group out of East Orange New Jersey, celebrates 25 years in the biz with a new EP dropping sometime in January and a 26-city tour to promote it. Treach (Anthony Criss) and Vinnie (Vincent Brown) and DJ Kay Gee (Keir Gist) got their big break when they were discovered by Queen Latifah and signed to her label in 1990. They’ve produced plenty of material since then, but fingers crossed they do their monster hits “O.P.P” and “Hip Hop Hooray.” Hey, ho. TLA, 334 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-922-1011

February 28: Future

This summer’s album, DS2 (Dirty Sprite 2) by Atlanta rapper Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn (aka Future), paints a rough picture of life in the hood on tracks “Freak Hoe,” “F*ck Up Some Commas,” “Slave Master.” Moving away from the confused intentions of his prior album, Honest, Future digs in with grim storytelling that doesn’t offer up a lot of hope. Future’s Purple Reign tour backing the album will satisfy fans clamoring to see the rapper. The Fillmore, 29 East Allen Street, 215-309-0150


March 5: Excision with Figure and Bear Grillz

Dubstep lovers listen up: Excision (real name Jeff Abel, a Canadian DJ and producer) headlines this intense evening of brain-buzzing, ear-destroying, heavy bass-booming dubstep. Spinning a “dark-step” groove, Excision throws down the wubzwubzwubz on his latest album, Codename X. Headbangers who have a taste for apocalyptic sounding jams will be in heaven. Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh Street, 215-627-1332

March 6: Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges’ debut album released this summer, Coming Home, is so retro that it’s hard to believe that this super-talented 26-year-old wasn’t magically transported here from the 1960s. Because his sound is so imitative of gospel-soul blended style, it will be fascinating to watch Bridges’ sound mature and incorporate more of-the-moment influences. His collaboration with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on their new single “Kevin” suggests he’s not satisfied to remain bound to one style of music. The Fillmore, 29 East Allen Street, 215-309-0150

March 10: Pink Martini

Portland, Oregon’s Pink Martini has staked out some fairly unique ground in the music world since its inception in 1994. Twelve members comprise this elegant little lounge orchestra, including the two female vocalists — China Forbes and Storm Large. The band is unafraid to do kitsch (von Trapps singing “The Lonely Goatherd”) droll combinations (ABBA’s “Fernando” to a Brazilian beat) and captivating love songs (“Dream a Little Dream”). Storm Large, known for her bawdy stage presence and go-for-broke vocals, fronts Pink Martini on March 10. Listening to Pink Martini always puts me in mind of lounging at some supper club, lost in time, sipping cocktails with glamorous friends. Scottish Rite Auditorium, 315 White Horse Pike, Collingswood, NJ, 856-858-1000

March 14: The Who and Joan Jett

Sometimes you see a show to catch a star on the rise and other times you go because you may never get another chance. With Pete Townshend being 70 and Roger Daltrey being 72, well you just never know… The tour was already cut short this September when Daltrey contracted viral meningitis, so catch this two-hour powerhouse show while this pair can still rock it. The tour commemorates the 50th anniversary of their debut album, My Generation, and the set list is an embarrassment of riches, including “Who Are You,” “I Can See for Miles.” “My Generation,” “You Better You Bet,” “Pinball Wizard,” “Baba O’Riley,” “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” If that wasn’t a big enough dose of awesome, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts opens the show. Get ready for more hits coming at you: “Bad Reputation,” “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You” and the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb.” At 57, Jett is still dangerous and totally hard-rocking. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600

March 18-19: Beach House


Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally put out two albums last year, Depression Cherry and Thank Your Lucky Stars. Known for their moody, snowflake-precious atmospheric sound, the pair delivers their sonically-appealing music without bombast or posturing. It’s chill music at its dreamiest. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100

March 20: Megadeth

The metal heroes drop their latest album,Dystopia, on January 22. One of thrash metal’s original bands, Megadeth formed in the mid-’80s and has sold more than 50 million records worldwide and received eleven Grammy nominations. Dave Mustaine is the charismatic frontman who directs the adrenaline-soaked show like the seasoned pro he is. Check out the already released singles from Dystopia: “The Threat is Real” and “Fatal Illusion.” Bring ear plugs. Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh Street, 215-627-1332

March 25: Bonnie Raitt

The ever-likable Bonnie Raitt brings her soulful voice and expert guitar playing to the Kimmel for a night of blues, folk and R&B music. This Rock and Roll Hall of Famer ranks #89 on Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitarists and #50 in the magazine’s 100 Greatest Singers. The 66-year-old Raitt sings bluesy ballads with a heartbreaking depth and her slide guitar work is impressive. Kimmel Center, 300 South Broad Street, 215-670-2388

March 26: G Love and Special Sauce

Philly’s G. Love and Special Sauce have always had a lazy, bluesy sound, but the band is rocking harder with the latest album. The band — G. Love (Garrett Dutton), Jim Prescott and Jeffrey Clemens — released Love Saves the Day this fall and keeps the party atmosphere going with their unique fusion of blues, soul, and hip-hop. The hometown crowd will be shouting for “Cold Beverage” and “I-76,” of course. The Fillmore, 29 East Allen Street, 215-309-0150

March 31: Savages

Is anybody cooler than Savages right now? The post-punk band London band drops its new album, Adore Life, January 22. Vocalist Jehnny Beth has described it as “quite Black Sabbath.” That’s a twist; the group is known for delivering hard, punk-fueled music — “Shut Up,” “T.I.W.Y.G.,” “The Answer” — that chokeholds its listeners with sleek, riveting intensity. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100

March 31: Bootsy Collins

Who else plays a star-shaped bass and wears star-shaped sunglasses? Bootsy Collins still has the funk after all these years — and quite the flair for funky fresh stage-wear. After starting out playing in James Brown’s band at 18, Collins moved on to George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic. Eventually, Collins put together his own outfit, Bootsy’s Rubber Band. Expect some of his classics — “I’d Rather Be With You,” “Stretchin Out,” “What’s a Telephone Bill?” He typically closes with the P-Funk crowd-pleaser, “One Nation Under a Groove.” Ardmore Music Hall, 23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, Pa., 610-649-8389


April 1: AC/DC

Even if you weren’t born when “Highway to Hell” hit the radio airwaves, you probably know this Australian band rocks it all night long. So what if you can’t understand what age-defying lead singer Brian Johnson is saying, or if they’ve been singing the same thing for years, and if guitarist Angus Young never changes his school boy outfit. It doesn’t matter. It’s killer classic rock. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600

April 1: The Gregg Allman Band and Gregg Allman

The Allman Brothers Band finally called it quits last year after 45 years. But old rock habits die hard so Gregg is out on the road again. The original band — steeped in white-blues, southern rock — was started in 1969 by Gregg and his phenomenally talented brother Duane. Their band put out one of the best all-time live albums, At Fillmore East, in 1971. Gregg famously married Cher — for a minute — and was quite the Romeo in his day. Check out his engrossing memoir, My Cross to Bear, for a candid retelling about his past adventures. Or listen to “One Way Out” for proof. Though that band routinely served up long songs (some over 30 minutes), Gregg’s sets are much tighter. Tower Theatre, S. 69th Street and Ludlow Street, Upper Darby, 610-352-2887

April 3: Rihanna

Fans have been waiting and waiting for Rihanna to give them something new after her massive 2012 effort, Unapologetic. She’s tantalized fans with three singles —“FourFiveSeconds,” “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “American Oxygen” —from her upcoming and long-awaited Anti. But no release date for what would-be her eighth album has been announced yet. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600

April 13: Matmos

Matmos — experimental electronic duo and coupleMartin Schmidt and Drew Daniel — is almost so high-concept they might better be labeled as performance artists. It’s no surprise that Icelandic eccentric Bjork is a friend and a collaborator. Past egg-head concept albums, The Marriage of Two Minds, The Civil War, and Supreme Balloon, would put a smile on the late avante-garde omposer John Cage’s face. Matmos has focused on sound and thought experiments dedicated to gay or might-be-gay historical figures, the sounds of plastic surgery, and music born of civil wars in the United States and Britain. Their latest album, Ultimate Care II, (schedule to be released February 19) was recorded in the basement studio of their house and built on sounds made by a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II washing machine. Reports are that it is one 38-minute track of the washing machine being played, sampled and put to work. The album, of course, concludes with the buzzer sound of a completed wash cycle. International House, 3701 Chestnut Street, 215-387-5125


May 7-8: Justin Bieber

The Biebs returns, harder, wiser and a little bit more grown up. Having completed the natural arc of child stars — or at least this phase — Justin Bieber, now 21, soared to the heights of teeny bopper heart throb, to unruly wild child and is now back, earnest and ready to work again. And work he has. His fall album, Purpose, has solid comeback fare and this summer’s massive Skrillex and Diplo jam, “Where Are U Now” put him back on the musical map. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad Street, 215-336-3600

May 7: Super Furry Animals

This neo-psychedelic, experimental indie band from Cardiff, Wales, is known for being somewhat hard to pin down, but unquestionably creative. Do they sound like O.M.D? LCD Soundsystem? B-52s? Maybe early Elvis Costello? Or maybe its something entirely different. Welsh-language lovers complained when the band started performing in English, but that’s our gain. Though they haven’t released anything since 2009’s Dark Days/Light Years, this should be a trippy night full of surprises, plus hits like “Crazy Naked Girls” and “Run-Away.” Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden Street, 215-232-2100

May 12: Mac Demarco

Mac Demarco wowed fans at last year’s show at the Troc Theater when he and his bandmates lived up to their reputation as party boys. Smoking, drinking and goofing around on stage, the guys are known to have fun wherever they play. Demarco capped off the rollicking show of easy, ironically cheesy ballads with some stage diving and climbed up to the balcony, clung to the railing and got some photos with fans, then leapt back into the crowd below, which lovingly caught him and returned him safely to the stage. Demarco is hugely likable and supporters sang along with him on many of his lovely, wistful songs — “Ode to Viceroy,” “Another One,” “A Heart Like Hers.” Get your tickets early, this one will sell out. Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th Street, Philadelphia, 215-627-1332

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