With all of the downtowns and frat parties flooding everyone's Facebook feeds, it's easy to forget that Philadelphia is one of the best music cities in the world—especially when it comes to rock. So if you ever find yourself wanting to cathartically dance to something, anything but "Mr. Brightside," these upcoming shows are worth squeezing into your budget.
Returning to Philly for a second time in support of 2017’s This Old Dog, the king of shimmery indie rock will play at the Mann Center after Labor Day weekend. After announcing the formation of his own record label, Mac’s Record Label, and covering some Japanese pop classics at his festival stops this summer, there’s no doubt that this Philly show will be a more in–depth performance than just a feature of his latest work. Especially if you spent the weekend at Made in America, this concert is a must for anyone who wants to unwind in the late summer haze.
7:00pm at the Mann Center, $32.50
The Goose Island 215 Block Party is always popular for many reasons—namely cheap tickets and $3 beers—but this year it’s because it brings the return of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs after a far too long five-year absence from Philly. Each band in the lineup is worth attending for, but there are few female rock stars who have reached such a widespread level of praise as Karen O. Known for her frenzied stage antics and unconventional costume, she is the poster child for being yourself, and the kind of performer that everyone deserves to see live at least once.
5:00pm at the Electric Factory, 21+, $22
Emo is having a moment, and this band is leading it. They came to the church last spring as a supporting act and got a full-on crowd-surfing mosh pit going within the first 20 seconds of their set. Their sound is less abrasive and more approachable than most well-known emo bands, so even those who typically shy away from this style of rock will find an appeal in these Minnesota up-and-comers. Not to mention, this BYO venue is the best in the city for dancing to any and all kinds of music.
7:30pm at First Unitarian Church, $14
Since signing with Matador in 2015, Will Toledo and his band have risen to immense fame as lo-fi DIY in the mainstream. Starting as a solo project with songs being recorded in the backseat of Toldeo’s car (hence the band name), Car Seat Headrest has always maintained their fuzzy garage essence while slowly adding in greater clarity and wisdom. The band will make their stop in Philly on a tour in support of a newly recorded and refreshed version of Toledo’s 2011 self-released album, Twin Fantasy - one of the best indie rock albums in recent memory.
8:00pm at Union Transfer, $25
These LA-rockers sound like a mix of fellow Californians Shannon and the Clams and Ty Segall, but with a more nasally and frankly, growling, vocalist. They call their music “Beach Goth,” in a perfect strain of their psychedelic surf rock roots. With a driving rhythm section, the vocals of lead singer Brooks Nielsen freely swirl and meander through the twisted melodies of the newly released album Casual Acquaintances.
8:30pm at Union Transfer, $25
Alvvays’ Molly Rankin and Snail Mail’s Lindsey Jordan are undoubtedly two of the women at the top of rock today. Alvvays returns after stopping in Philly last fall to support 2017’s Antisocialites, while Jordan comes back after playing a July show for her widely praised album Lush, which came out in June. Both bands bring a feminine perspective to rock that felt few and far between in previous generations. And really, nothing says girl power like two awesome female guitarists shredding it onstage.
8:30pm at Union Transfer, First show is sold out, Second has tickets available for $20
Leon Bridges is this century’s iteration of soulful Sam-Cooke-like splendor, but more informed by the rock, rap, and pop that surrounds him. Stripped back songs like “River” from his first album Coming Home drew nostalgic categorizations, but 2018’s Good Thing takes those roots and infuses them with hooks as enticing as those from Bruno Mars or Alabama Shakes. His deeply cutting romantic lyrics and swaying backbeats make his Grammy nominations and top-ten achievements come as no surprise.
8:00pm at The Fillmore, $85