From the convenient entertainment hub that is NoLibs to the booming cultural mecca better known as North Portfishington, there are pretty much an endless supply of things for you to do, see, hear and eat this summer in North Philly. Whether it’s a Saturday afternoon or Wednesday evening, you’re guaranteed to find at least five watering holes within a few blocks serving up cold local brews and decent grub to the live tunes of a local band. Or, you could do something unconventional. For instance ...
While we’ve all heard of Christmas in July, this year PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th St. 267.519.9651. philamoca.org) is celebrating Halloween in June with a two-day horror extravaganza called The Mausoleum Art Show of Horrors (June15, 6-11:30pm). A collection of haunting masterpieces, the show will remain on view through June 19. During the reception, the North American Tour of Terror will present its collection of current short horror films curated by local filmmaker Matt Garrett, followed by a screening of local horror maestro Isaac Williams’ feature documentary Maybe We Can Go to Hollywood, starring the late Philly punk legend Mikey Wild.
The next day, the multi-purpose venue will host the Mausoleum Horror Convention (June 16, 11am-11:30pm), an all-day celebration of the wild and weird featuring film screenings, a trivia contest, a drawing workshop and a slew of vendors. Once the sun sets, get ready for some not-so-family-friendly entertainment including a live performance by the Philly-based comedic-sex education group Screw Smart and a horror-themed burlesque show hosted by un-dead puppeteer/performer Mr. Deadguy.
If you find amusement in tragedy but zombies and serial killers don’t really do it for ya, then how about watching a bunch of half-naked strangers hump imaginary sex partners? Just a few days after Johnny Brenda’s hosts the 9th Annual U.S. Air Guitar Regional Competition (June 20, 8pm), North Star Bar will take the world of simulated competition one step further with the first Air Sex World Championships (July 1, 8pm).
Equipped with a music clip of their choosing and whatever attire they feel is most befitting, participants will each get two whole unforgettable minutes to impress the judges as they make sweet and/or filthy love to the air. The winner will go home—probably alone—with prizes from local merchants and a chance to compete against the best air-humpers in America.
Is it wrong that sex makes us think of prison? Yes? Anyway, Eastern State Penitentiary’s Annual Bastille Day Festival (July 12-15) is one of Philly’s silliest and most beloved summertime events, and it attracts thousands of visitors from around the area each year. The three-day celebration kicks off with the French Fling Bar Crawl and continues on Friday evening with Fairmount Goes French movie screenings and dinner specials. On Saturday, folks of all ages are invited to come dressed as French peasants or royalty and enjoy a French-themed street festival along Fairmount Avenue. Besides the usual array of children’s activities, vendors, contests and fine French fare, this year, the Bearded Ladies will blow minds with their over-the-top, yet thought-provoking live cabaret show. All of this leads up to grand finale at 5:30 p.m., when dozens of French revolutionaries, armed with muskets, storm the grim walls of “the Bastille” (Eastern State) and drag Marie Antoinette to a real, functioning guillotine. Once Antoinette yells, “Let them eat Tastykake!” the spectators below go nuts as 2,000 packs of Tastykakes rain from the sky. Looks like Jonathan Papelbon isn’t the only one who Philly reminds of Paris. (Nicole Finkbiner)
The Awesome Fest Summer Series. Back at the Piazza’s 40-foot screen with even more films than last year, guests can expect cast and crew meet-and-greets and post-screening parties each week. June 1-Aug. 25, 8pm. Free. The Piazza, 1015 N. Second St. 215.467.4600. theawesomefest.com
Victorian Dining Room Series. The second floor of North Star Bar hosts a series of intimate musical performances from acts like A Private Press, Vice Royal and Joshua Bright. June 11 and June 18. 8pm. Free. North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. 215.787.0488. northstarbar.com
Avalanche. Made in collaboration with five dance and theater faculty members from Colby and Bates Colleges, Headlong Dance Theater’s latest production revolves around how we change as we get older and get further away from the competitive nature of our youth. June 14-16, 8pm. $5. Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine St. 215.545.9195. headlong.org
Ha Ha Tonka. With their rugged Americana sound, this Missouri quartet has been described as “Alabama meets Arcade Fire.” June 15, 8pm. $15. With Langhorne Slim. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. 215.232.2100. utphilly.com
Slideluck Potshow. The N.Y.C.-based nonprofit arts organization comes to Philly for one night of potluck wining and dining in the outdoor garden space, followed by a slideshow of artwork in the Ice Box room. June 16, 7pm. Free. Crane Arts, 1400 N. American St. 215.232.5678. philaphotoarts.org
Jeffro Kilpatrick: Norris Street MixTape. Local cartoonist, illustrator and founding member of the Philadelphia Cartoonist Society Jeffro Kilpatrick pays tribute to some of his favorite songs. Each of the featured drawings takes inspiration from a piece of music, whether it directly references lyrics or evokes a feeling Kilpatrick gets from a song. June 16, 6pm. Masthead Print Studio, 340 Brown St. 215.359.8118. mastheadprintstudio.com
VCR Love. Part of the 2012 SoLow Festival, this critically acclaimed one-man show by New York-based performer and playwright David Lawson explores how technology has changed pornography over the past quarter of a century. June 17, 7pm. $5. The Trestle Inn, 339 N. 11th St. 267.239.0290. thetrestleinn.com
Erotic Life Drawing Class. Bring your own pen and paper to this drop-in class to spend the evening sketching both male and female models posed in seductive positions. June 17, July 15 and Aug. 19, 6pm. $10. North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St. 215.787.0488. northstarbar.com
US Air Guitar Regional Competition. Show Philly what you’ve got at the ninth annual air-guitar competition, chump. June 20, 8pm. $10. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. 215.739.9684.
PhilaMOCA Summer Solstice Ice Cream Social. Equipped with beach balls, palm trees and all the ice cream you can eat, for one night the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art will be transformed into a summer haven. There will also be live music from four popular local bands: Artic Splash, Attia Taylor, Shorty Boy Boy and the Really Cooks with guest emcee Juliet Hope Wayne. June 21, 7pm. $8. PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St. 267.519.9651. philamoca.org
Motion City Soundtrack. Come out for an evening of upbeat alt-rock involving pleasant melodies, snappy drums and moments of whimsical falsetto. June 27, 7:30pm. $18-$20. With The Henry Clay People + The Front Bottoms. Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St. 215.232.2100. utphilly.com
Good Ole Days. In celebration of Black Music Month, Good Ole Days pay tribute to the Rev. Milton Brunson and Bishop Walker Hawkins. June 23, 7pm. Free. Second Pilgrim Baptist Church, 854 N. 15th St. 215.763.5821.
Looking for summer excitement in your neighborhood—or an excuse to explore new parts of the city? Either way, you’re golden: Here’s our compass-based manual for locating the hottest fun to be found around Philly, one direction at a time!
OK, so maybe South Philly doesn’t have as many museums and theaters as Center City. It also lacks the bustling college scene of University City and all the super-trendy, “up-and-coming” allure of North Portfishington. Nevertheless, when you take a stadium complex, a beautiful green oasis, a vibrant arts community, and a slew of stellar dining establishments and mix them together into one giant melting pot, inevitably you wind up with a pretty awesome recipe for summertime amusement.
An eclectic melting pot of Philly’s smaller neighborhoods, Center City has the most to offer with the greatest variety.
Unless you weren’t already convinced, hopefully we’ve proven to you by now that Philly is jam-packed with awesome summer events. But for a little suburban staycation, we threw in our top picks for events happening outside city limits.
Sunny enthusiasm, morbid fascination or retro nostalgia: Whatever mood you feel like cultivating in your culture, you can find it just inside the roundabouts-northerly edges of the Philadelphia city limits.
Who’s ready to have too much fun in West Philly this summer? We are!
PW's Music Issue 2014