Tame Impala | photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN // Kamasi Washington | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN // Kacey Musgraves | photo by Heji Shin | courtesy of the artist
19 Philly concerts we’re looking forward to in summer of 2019
Summer concert season is upon us, and once again, the Philadelphia region did not disappoint. We have so many options on the calendar over the next three months that whittling it down to 19 was an incredible difficult task — and we here at The Key wholeheartedly encourage you to peruse the extensive listings in the XPN Concert Calendar for details on the shows that didn’t fit — including Nuevofest at World Cafe Live, Cayetana’s swan song at Union Transfer, Brandi Carlile and Mavis Staples at the Mann Center, and of course our own XPoNential Music Festival.
But those are all gigs you probably could have guessed we were excited about. For this list, we’ve dug a little bit deeper and gathered that aren’t as obvious at first glance. From classic Philly soul to soaring international pop, tripped-out psychedelia and forward-looking jazz, here are 19 concerts we can’t wait to see in summer of 2019.
7/11: The O’Jays with Russell Thompkins’ Stylistics at The Dell Music Center
In April, The O’Jays returned with new music for the first time in fifteen years: an LP called The Last Word, which the group announced would be their final release. The Philadelphia soul giants address political tumult in many of their new songs, condemning corrupt leaders and asking, “Do the ones that work the most get to put any money in their pocket?” on the single “Above The Law”. The O’Jays became international stars with smash hits like “Love Train” and “Now That We Found Love” written by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, and they came to define the “Philly sound” at its peak in the 1970s — along with The Stylistics, members of whom will join The O’Jays for a night of soul music at The Dell Music Center this month. (TIX) – Thomas Hagen
7/17: Robyn at The Mann
At a certain point in the eight years between Body Talk and Honey, it started to seem as if Robyn had disappeared for good. Luckily, the Swedish pop maestro didn’t vanish as she returned to speakers and headphones last year with Honey. Now, she is bringing the album to life on tour. She has already played across North America and Europe, but she is coming back for another round. She will be gracing The Mann with the seductive and syrupy electro-pop stylings of her latest record and the bulletproof hits of her past. It’s unlikely that anyone will leave her show without being completely overcome with the urge to dance, cry, or both. Her uncanny ability to imbue even the most upbeat and weightless tracks with intense and universal emotions will make the show an unforgettable. Make sure you catch it in case Robyn actually disappears this time. (TIX) – Solomon Friedman
7/20: Carly Rae Jepsen at The Fillmore
You probably still have “Call Me Maybe” stuck in your head. If you don’t, it’s because you’ve been hammering Dedicated since it came out last month. Rather than vanishing like one-hit-wonder many assumed her to be, Carly Rae Jepsen has steadily been building a rapid cult following. Her impeccable songwriting and 80’s-inspired production results in songs and albums that are nothing short of addicting. Where Kiss was inescapable and sugary, E•MO•TION was punchy and exuberant, and Dedicated is mature and refreshing. Go into the show only knowing her inescapable 2012 hit and you’ll leave wanting to get her discography tattooed. (TIX) – S.F.
8/4: Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington at The Met Philly
A jazz legend and a contemporary genius walk into a venue. Just look at the lineup for this show at The Met Philadelphia and you’ll be able to finish my terrible joke. Herbie Hancock and Kamasi Washington is the jazz super-group you didn’t realize you needed. The pairing makes a lot of sense; both are jazz icons that have pushed the genre into the future. Throughout his long career, Hancock has brought new sounds and ideas to the forefront of jazz. Washington has followed in his footsteps and pushed the envelope of contemporary jazz, both in his solo work and in his collaborations with artists like Thundercat and Kendrick Lamar. This pairing bridges generations of jazz musicians and signals that the genre still has a bright and bold future. (TIX) – S.F.
8/16: Immanuel Wilkins at Philadelphia Museum of Art
Alto saxophonist and Upper Darby native Immanuel Wilkins is quickly becoming one of the most captivating young jazz musicians of the moment. A graduate of The Julliard School in New York — as well as the Kimmel Center’s Creative Music Program for high school students — Wilkins is best known for making original music with his quartet of young New York players, who fold gospel and R&B influences into contemporary jazz. This spring he appeared on the brilliant debut albumKingMaker by vibraphonist Joel Ross. In August, Wilkins will visit the PMA to perform original music with vocalist Alyssa McDoom. (TIX) – T.H.
8/18: Margo Price at The Philadelphia Folk Festival
Among the recent surge of artists revitalizing country music, Margo Price shines. Her retro sound is reminiscent of icons like Loretto Lynn with the politically charged nature of 60s folk music. With her 2018 Grammy nomination for Best New Artist, she is a singer soon to blow up. Catch her headlining the Philadelphia Folk Festival this August, where she joins David Crosby, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Kaia Kater, and many more for what’s sure to be a massively memorable weekend, so much so that boiling it down to one artist feels like a disservice. But if you only see one act at Folk Fest this year, see Margo Price. (TIX) – Lily Sanders
8/20: Beast Coast at The Met Philadelphia
The name Beast Coast might not have too much name recognition — or it might seem like a typo of a sunshiney so-Cal indie rock band’s name — but the artists that make it up sure do. Beast Coast is the fresh collective project of the Underachiever, The Flatbush Zombies, Joey Bada$$ and the rest of Pro Era. While the artists have been informally touring with one another for ages, in May they released their debut album Escape From New York. Don’t let your summer slip away without the bang of the collective’s first concert in Philly. (TIX) – L.S.
8/23: Tame Impala at The Mann
While modern psych tralblazers Tame Impala released their most recent album back in 2015, that doesn’t mean they have lost any of their momentum. In the years since Currents, the project of Kevin Parker has risen to alt-pop stardom, and with it his profile as a studio visionary. Parker has helped produce hits like Travis Scott’s “Skeleton,” Lady Gaga’s “Perfect Illusion,” and released two singles “Patience” and “Borderline” in 2019. Before her seemingly endless hiatus from music, Rihanna even covered Tame Impala’s “Same Ole’ Mistakes.” Hear Tame Impala’s comeback at The Mann this summer. (TIX) – L.S.
8/29: Talib Kweli at Ardmore Music Hall
One of Brooklyn’s most beloved MCs hits Ardmore Music Hall this August. Veteran rapper and activist Talib Kweli broke out with his 1998 collaboration with fellow Brooklynite Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) entitled Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, a now historic album — in an recent essay for Okayplayer, Dart Adams looked back at the work of Black Star’s label, Rawkus, in uplifting New York’s underground rap scene in the late 90s. In the years since, Kweli has become one of this century’s most prominent figures in socially-conscious hip-hop. His most recent release was 2017’s Radio Silence, which featured collaborations with Anderson .Paak, Bilal, Robert Glasper, BJ The Chicago Kid, Amber Coffman (of Dirty Projectors) and more. (TIX)- T.H.
8/31: Rosalía at Made In America Festival
Similar to the Philadelphia Folk Festival, pointing you to only one of the dozens of acts on offer at Made In America 2019 feels woefully incomplete. When we tell you about our excitement for Jay-Z’s summertime jam on the Parkway, we’re obviously excited for Lizzo, Travis Scott, Cardi B, and Freddie Gibbs & Madlib. But of all of the acts in the mix, you can rest assured we will make extra certain to be front and center for Rosalía. The Barcelona singer-songwriter made massive waves last year with El mal querer, an album that marries flamenco folk tradition with soaring electronic production and a pop songsmith’s sense of earworm hooks. The album wound up on practically every year-end list in December — a result in part of it being such a striking and unique work, and something outside the ordinary for the largely white American music press. But its appeal is also a result of Rosalía simply being an exceptional talent in every facet of what she does, from writing, to playing, to vocal performance, and the production flourishes she cooked up in collaboration with fellow Barcelona artist El Guincho. We’re eager to see her make her Philadelphia debut on the Made In America stage. (TIX) – John Vettese
8/29: Flying Lotus at Franklin Music Hall
If you’re in the mood to have your mind blown, look no further than Flying Lotus’ upcoming show at Franklin Music Hall. The eccentric producer will be bringing his latest record, the epic Flamagra to Philly and it is not to be missed. The record is a sprawling testament to FlyLo’s expertise as a composer and as a collaborator. The album boasts contributions from Anderson .Paak, Solange, Philly’s own Tierra Whack, and many more. The show is worth attending just on the off chance that Whack appears to perform “Yellow Belly,” which we still aren’t talking about enough. (TIX) – S.F.
9/4: Vampire Weekend and Christon “Kingfish” Ingram at The Mann
There likely isn’t a more perfect place to experience of the summery glory of Father of the Bride than at The Mann on an early September night. It’ll still be warm, the sun won’t disappear too early, and the open air venue perfectly suits the breeziness of the record. On top of all that, Kingfish is opening. The twenty-year old artist blew us away with an electrifying set at NonCOMM 2019 and is set to due so again at XPoNential Music Festival. Released six years after their previous full length, Bride sees the indie rockers, now down a member, pulling out all the stops. The record is 18 tracks long and features contributions from Danielle Haim, Steve Lacey, and more. It doesn’t necessarily make up for the band’s six year disappearance, but hearing it live might… (TIX) – S.F.
9/8: Jeff Bradshaw and Brass Heaven at Spruce Street Harbor Park
Jeff Bradshaw is a North Philadelphia native and one of the boldest trombonists in R&B today. With Brass Heaven, he brings unabashed showmanship to live performances that blend hip-hop with gospel and classic soul stylings. Bradshaw’s past collaborators have included regulars on the Philadelphia jazz scene like Gerald Veasely, as well as R&B greats including Robert Glasper, Bilal, Floetry and PJ Morton. In September, Jeff Bradshaw and Brass Heaven will close out the summer’s free concert series at Spruce Street Harbor Park on the Delaware River waterfront. (INFO) – T.H.
9/11: Kacey Musgraves and Weyes Blood at The Met Philly
The “Yeehaw Agenda” just won’t let up! Kacey Musgraves was in Philly back in January with everyone’s favorite, Natalie Prass. Now, she is riding back into town with Weyes Blood, whose gorgeous album Titanic Rising should be at the top of everyone’s year-end lists. The duo will put on a show that at least reaches the highs of Musgraves’ last stop in town. There is nothing not to love about Kacey Musgraves. It’s as simple as that. If you’re not already on board with her shimmering and psychedelic country pop, we don’t know what you’re waiting for. Seriously, grab your cowboy hat and buy a ticket already! (TIX) – S.F.
9/19: Mannequin Pussy at First Unitarian Church
As the band got to its point of national acclaim from a start in the Philly DIY scene, it is only right to see Mannequin Pussy play in their hometown in the First Unitarian Church basement. After signing a deal earlier this year with Epitaph Records and releasing Patience in late June, they’ve shown everybody who wasn’t already onboard why they’re a punk band to keep a close watch on. With heavy riffs, cathartic vocals, music videos featuring things like gremlins, they are the furthest thing from boring. Come and support an awesome local band this fall. (TIX) – L.S.
9/21: Sweet Honey in the Rock at the Annenberg Center
Sweet Honey in the Rock vocal group fronted by black women that has been performing original songs and traditional music of the African diaspora for over forty years. Founded in 1973 by composer and activist Bernice Johnson Reagon, the group has evolved to include many different vocalists over the past decades, but has continued releasing new music and performing core repertoire throughout that time — today’s lineup includes two founding members, Louise Robinson and Carol Lynn Maillard. In 2016 they released #LoveInEvolution, an album that proudly faces the political divisions in today’s United States with fearless solidarity and faith. Sweet Honey in the Rock will perform at University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts this September. (TIX) – T.H.
9/27: Whitney at Union Transfer
Come September, Whitney will have released their Sophomore album Forever Turned Around, and it will be interesting to see what changes it brings for the group. With a sound reminiscent of Bon Iver’s merger of folk and soul, Whitney Makes an immediate impression. Get a better listen to lead singer, Julien Ehrlich’s falsetto in person this fall. (TIX) – L.S.
9/28: Frankie Cosmos at PhilaMOCA
Greta Simone Kline, better known as Frankie Cosmos, has a DIY spirit through and through, and its very evident on Close It Quietly, her fourth album of effervescent indiepop, and her second for revered Seattle label Sub Pop. Cosmos will be back in Philly this September with her cool girl, anti-folk sound; Close it Quietly, will release earlier that month. See her at PhilaMOCA for a first-hand experience of her new music. (TIX) – L.S.
9/28: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi at The Grand Opera House
In May, Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi released there is no Other, a stark and complex album that interrogates the histories of political theorizing, racial othering and systemic oppression that have shaped popular understanding of folk music in the Western Hemisphere. Giddens’ musical and historical work, both as a solo performer and as a member of Carolina Chocolate Drops, highlights the entanglement of the American folk tradition and the cultural traditions of the African diaspora — in 2017 she was named a MacArthur Genius Fellow. A collaboration with Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, there is no Other sheds new light on the true stories and creative intricacies woven into the varied folk traditions in the United States and Italy. Giddens and Turrisi actualize their scholarship in stunning live performances that feature banjo, voice, percussion, accordion and more. The duo will visit Wilmington’s Grand Opera House in September. (TIX) – T.H.