Who’s ready to have too much fun in West Philly this summer? We are! Good, because it all begins with the Dock Street Philly Beer Run & Music Festival (June 10, 2pm) and ends with a hangover. Normal people stop running farther than across the street once they graduate high school. But weird people run all their lives, and even weirder ones run and then start chugging beer immediately after. That’s what the weirdos at the Dock Street Philly Beer Run & Music Festival plan to do: run a 5K race through West Philadelphia and then bomb out on Dock Street’s sometimes tasty brews. Then they’re gonna eat a whole bunch of Dock Street’s always tasty pizza pies and rub their fat guts while enjoying live music by five bands.
The local folk/country band Hoots & Hellmouth are gonna sing songs about how hard it was to grow up riding the rails and wearing ironic suspenders, and Brooklyn’s O’Death are gonna do something similar, except with more apocalyptic vibes about fire and various demons. By the end of the day, expect dozens of beer-bloated hippies wandering around with pizza sauce and puke all over their flannel jogging shorts and pepperoni lodged in their award-winning lumberjack beards.
Clark Park is West Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square, except all the rich people walking their puppy dogs, pushing their drooling kids around in Pitchfork-approved strollers and buying overpriced organic produce are replaced by artists in their 30s who work at the nonprofits funded by the senior citizens whose condos tower ominously over Rittenhouse. But it’s a great place! There’s a sculpture of Charles Dickens and Little Nell! On the weekends, there are food trucks (Lucky Old Souls, Honest Tom’s and Kung Fu Hoagies), and you can eat a meat or tofu sammich while watching all the neighborhood preteens (and a few older, creepy stragglers) bash each other over the head with Nerf swords and commanding their troops with crappy British accents. For one day each summer, the bums and LARPers (live-action role players) get the boot and the park gets taken over by a bunch of local food vendors, craftspeople and artists, not to mention a bunch of goddamn rock ‘n’ roll bands. They call this sucker the Summer Solstice Festival (June 30, noon-sunset). This year, there are 11 bands playing, including bluegrass outfit the City Wide Specials, folk-hobos On the Water, weirdo chamber-thing the Horrible Department and art-punks Erode and Disappear. Bring a frisbee, hippie!
Speaking of music, for the past few summers, the University City District has hosted several live music events in the green space behind the Free Library branch on the corner of 40th and Walnut streets. It’s right across the street from the Marvelous! record store, the Last Word Bookshop and the spectacular Qdoba Mexican Grill, and this year there will be four concerts scattered throughout the summer. The series kicks off with Slavic Soul Party (June 23), which is a big brass band that plays Slavic Soul Party music. The Sun Ra Arkestra (July 28) blows jazz with guest musician Teshome Mitiku, the Ethiopian keyboardist. The park gets rowdier with a performance by Adventuredrum (Aug. 25), which is the 10-plus person percussion ensemble led by Man Man’s Chris Powell. This version of the all-star band will include members of indie-rock bands Dirty Projectors, Ted Leo & the Pharmacists and Pattern Is Movement. And the series concludes with Philadelphia jazz ensemble Bobby Zankel’s Warriors of the Wonderful Sound (Sept. 22) celebrate jazz legend John Coltrane’s birthday by performing his mind-boggling album A Love Supreme with special guests Dave Liebman and Odean Pope. All concerts in the series begin at 6 p.m., so grab some burritos at Qdoba and jazz out smooth in the grass! (Elliott Sharp)
Il Divo. Formed by music mogul and reality TV king Simon Cowell, this multinational pop/opera quartet have become superstars, selling more than 26 million records worldwide since 2004. June 9, 8pm. $60-$130. The Mann, 5201 Parkside Ave. 215.878.0400. manncenter.org
Uhuru Flea Market. Benefitting Uhuru Movement’s self-determination programs for social justice, economic self-reliance and development for the African community, vendors will fill Clark Park for an afternoon, selling antiques, jewelry, clothes, bikes and books. June 16 and Aug. 4, 9am. Free. Clark Park, 4300 Chester Ave. uhurufleamarket.blogspot.com
Foster The People. Best known for “Pumped Up Kicks,” one of the biggest hits of 2011, this breakout band performs with openers Tokyo Police Club, who aren’t from Tokyo, who aren’t police and who aren’t a club. June 14, 7:30pm. $30-$37. The Mann, 5201 Parkside Ave. 215.878.0400. manncenter.org
The Red House / Brother Orchid. In this double-header, catch two classic flicks from the 1940s. The Red House tells the tale of a farmer controlling his daughter in a psychological film noir thriller. Brother Orchid is a historical fiction drama, telling the story of a mob king played by Humphrey Bogart. June 14, 8pm. Free. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. therotunda.org
Spiral Q 15th Birthday Party! After 13 years in their magical Living Loft Museum & Studios in West Philly, Spiral Q Puppet Theater will soon be relocating. But before they do, community members are invited to join them in the space one last time. June 16, 3pm. Free. Spiral Q Puppet Theater, 3114 Spring Garden St. 215.222.6979. sprialq.org
Chris Beha & Marco Roth: A Novel Discussion. Christopher Beha discusses his new book, What Happened to Sophie Wilder? The discussion will be moderated by special guest Marco Roth, editor and founder of n+1 magazine. June 21, 6pm. Free. Penn Bookstore, 3601 Walnut St. upenn.edu/bookstore
The Magician. There isn’t much known about this mysterious DJ, but from his SoundCloud we’ve gathered that he’s the icing and cherry on top of our disco biscuits. With a repertoire of remixes and originals, which he calls Magic Tapes, you’re in for the club experience of your life. June 21, 9pm. $13-$15. With Plastic Plates, Wyllys and Greg D. The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St. 215.222.1234. theblockley.com
Orgone. After backing artists like Cee Lo Green and Alicia Keys in recent years, Orgone, the West Coast Grandmasters of Funk, are coming east for one sweaty, funky fresh night in Philly. June 22. 9pm. $9-$12. The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St. 215.222.1234. theblockleycom
Balkan Beat Box. If you’re craving something international, Balkan Beat Box may be right up your alley. Founders Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat, New Yorkers by way of Israel, blow up the crowd with some explosive electronic, global fusion beats. June 23, 9pm. $17-$20. The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St. 215.222.1234. theblockley.com
Jill Scott’s Summer Block Party. Come out and hear the three-time Grammy Award-winning, critically acclaimed singer-songwriter with special guest KEM, hosted by DJ Jazzy Jeff. June 23, 7pm. $39-$99. With KEM and DJ Jazzy Jeff. Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave. manncenter.org
Penn Museum Summer Nights Series. Every Wednesday night, an eclectic mix of musicians from around the world will bring the cultural collections inside the Penn Museum to life in their beautiful outdoor garden. Every Wed., June 20-Aug. 29. 5pm. $5. Penn Museum 3260 South St. 215.898.4000. penn.museum
Norah Jones. The jazz/pop singer/songwriter shows off her haunting vocals in support of her new album, Little Broken Hearts. June 28, 7:30pm. $30-$60. The Mann, 5201 Parkside Ave. 215.878.0400. manncenter.org
Idina Menzel. After winning a Tony Award for her role in the Broadway blockbuster Wicked, Menzel is returning to Philly to share stories and her powerhouse voice. June 30, 8pm. $19-$95. The Mann, 5201 Parkside Ave. 215.878.0400. manncenter.org
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.
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.
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.
An eclectic melting pot of Philly’s smaller neighborhoods, Center City has the most to offer with the greatest variety.
PW's 2014 College Issue
PW's Music Issue 2014