Eleven weeks. Eleven must-see Philly concerts. Eleven must-hear new albums.
It is hard and cold science that the record-release and concert season slows to a near sputtering halt in the winter. Similarly, as the freeze thaws and temperatures rise, we get more and more amazing LPs each new-music Tuesday—alongside an increasing bounty of spectacular live shows. Here’s our schedule, week by week, of a Spring 2014 full of satisfying album purchases and can’t-miss Philly concerts.
Record: The War On Drugs, Lost in the Dream.
Concert: Warpaint with Cate Le Bon at Union Transfer. Sat., March 22, 8:30pm, $16-$18. utphilly.com
Adam Granduciel of The War On Drugs is on top of City Hall with Billy Penn right now. Because he’s awesome and we’re extremely proud of TWOD as a city, everyone loves this band and this record—even before it’s officially out. And for those bummed to miss Cate’s Boot & Saddle date this winter, her opening for Warpaint’s a perfect pairing. Those four L.A. girls put on an intoxicatingly psychedelic show.
Record: Future Islands, Singles.
Concert: And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead at Underground Arts. Wed., March 26, 8pm, $18. undergroundarts.org
It’s possible that Philly loves Future Islands because we love our Baltimore brethren, but it could also be because Samuel T. Herring is the weirdest and the coolest. Did you see him on Letterman? Dude was boogieing so hard. Their fourth and first for 4AD should be pretty awesome new-wavey, futuristic indie rock. And Trail of Dead rip so hard, it makes your skin bounce. It’s really special, and this one’s easily the loudest show in town this week.
Record: Cloud Nothings, Here and Nowhere.
Concert: Pattern Is Movement at Boot & Saddle. Thurs., April 3, 8:30pm, $12. bootandsaddlephilly.com
Dylan Baldi’s coming back for more. The Cleveland noise punk’s got his fourth out this week, and it’ll blast loud, hard and heavy. Twenty-five months after Attack on Memory, and we’re very curious what this one’ll sound like. Meanwhile: Chris Ward and Andrew Thiboldeaux are back! Pattern Is Movement, Philly’s finest math and art rock duo, return from a too-long silence.
Record: EMA, The Future’s Void.
Concert: Johnny Popcorn at The Trocadero Theatre. Wed., April 9, 8:30pm, $7-$9. thetroc.com
Erika M. Andersen’s solo debut three springs ago was a sleeper—one of the best of the year. She’s a little bit Patty Griffin and a little Sky Ferreira, a total California band addict and artist. And Popcorn is the clever, on-the-rise Hezekiah, one of the coolest dudes in Philly soul, on par with Jill Scott and Bilal. His is a sweet swirl of hip-hop, soul and R&B.
Record: Iggy Azalea, The New Classic.
Concert: Jose James at World Cafe Live. Tues., April 15, 8pm, $22-$25. philly.worldcafelive.com
She’s finally here: The Australian bad bitch finally gets to put her money where her mouth is—and we intend to watch. The 2012 XXL Freshman won skeptics over just last week with a “Clueless”-themed video for “Fancy.” And James is one of those sleepers, but last year’s No Beginning No End for Blue Note was exquisite. He’s one of the best jazz artists working in 2014.
Record: Asher Roth, Retrohash.
Concert(s): Riff Raff at the TLA, Woods with Quilt at Boot & Saddle, and Cher with Cyndi Lauper at Wells Fargo Center. Wed., April 23, 11pm, $20. tlaphilly.com; Fri., April 25, 8:30pm, $12. bootandsaddlephilly.com; Mon., April 28, 7:30pm, $25.50-$156. wellsfargocenterphilly.com
Here comes Asher again, and we’re pumped! The Morrisville native and West Chester University College dropout proved just how great you can expect his new one to be with a sexy roller-rink video for “Tangerine Girl.” On the show circuit, it’s a three-way tie—try to go to all of ‘em. Riff Raff will be pure high hip-hop theater; Woods and Quilt will be a stoner’s paradise, and Cher and Cyndi will make Wells Fargo the gay-friendliest space in the city for a few hours.
APRIL 29-MAY 5
Record: Pink Mountaintops, Get Back.
Concert: Ledisi with Robert Glasper Experiment at the Tower. Thurs., May 1, 8pm, $34.50-$60. thetowerphilly.com
One of my favorite bands in the realm of psychedelic stoner rock, PM are on par with Tame Impala, and their fourth should be a slow-burning treat. And though the Grammy-nominated Ledisi’s from New Orleans, she loves Philly, and we treat her well. Her set’ll be a divine mix of church and R&B.
Record: tUnE-yArDs, Nikki Nack.
Concert: Mobb Deep at the TLA. Thurs., May 8, 8pm, $20-$35. tlaphilly.com
Merrill Garbus is back in the building! That weirdo. Can’t wait to see what she’s been cooking up since her her second, Whokill, leveled everyone in 2011. And holy shit, Mobb Deep rides again! This is going to be one historic hip-hop moment on South Street.
Record: Little Dragon, Nabuma Rubberband.
Concert: Mastadon at the Electric Factory. Sat., May 17, 7:30pm, $25. electricfactory.info
The Swedish downtempo trip-hop masters are one of the best things in electronica right now. Theoretically, this will maintain that domination—as will Mastadon’s white-knuckled grip on the reign of art metal masters. The Atlanta quartet’s one of the best in the face-melting biz.
Record: Yann Tiersen, (Infinity).
Concert: Conor Oberst at Union Transfer. Wed., May 21, 8:30pm, $35. utphilly.com
Amelie fans, rejoice: Your favorite modern classical composer makes elegant contemporary compositions—and not always for movies. And Conor’s show is one of the only decent dates set in stone this week. Just sayin’.
MAY 27-JUNE 2
Record: Sam Smith, In the Lonely Hour.
Concert: 7th Annual Roots Picnic at Festival Pier. Sat., May 31, 1pm, $45. rootspicnic.com
Finally! Sam Smith is one of the most exciting artists in pop and dance music in 2014. Disclosure got us obsessed in ’13, and this year is Smith’s year. Too bad his Boot & Saddle show—this week on the 21st—is sold out. He joins James Blake, Jamie Woon and Katy B in Brit dominance.
Screw you, seasonal affective disorder! We're gonna go to some shows, and spin some records, and see some art and theater and ALL THE OTHER THINGS.
PW's 2015 Philly Spring Guide