Our Weekly Concert Picks: August 28–September 3

Three free shows, and one epic festival, and your fave 20-something slacker—all to make you feel better about your summer coming to a close

Wednesday, August 28: Kurt Vile

This year—for the first time in history—Philadelphia will celebrate “Kurt Vile Day” on August 28, with a special ceremony at City Hall in which Mayer Nutter will bestow a prestigious Liberty Bell Award upon our fave Fishtowner, then invite the city to watch him jam out (for free!) in the courtyard. It’s crazy to think it’s been 5 years since KV’s first solo record (and launchpoint into fame)—it still feels like just yesterday that he was but a mysterious longhair, setting up shop on a stool (a stool!) weeknights at JB’s, hair covering his face as he strummed his guitar. These days, he’s practically a rock legend, who earned not one but TWO “Best New Music” designations from Pitchfork, in addition to his own mural on Front Street in Fishtown.  It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, and we’ve loved watching Vile gracefully transition from seated crooner to confident shredder. His latest LP, Wakin on a Pretty Daze, is a free-wheeling collection of tunes that seems practically made for summer barbeques and afternoon drives—from the Springsteen-esque “KV Crimes” to the gorgeous title track. We’re psyched to experience it live this Wednesday!

5:30 at City Hall Courtyard, 15th and Market Sts., free.

Wednesday, August 28: Pissed Jeans

Philly sludge-punkers Pissed Jeans are the type of band every 30-year-old Hukser Dü fan wishes he was a part of—exploring banal topics like health care and cafeteria food with wit, fury, and the force of 10,000 mosh pits. In the past 8 years, they’re released four full-lengths, including the recent Honeys—which offers both biting commentary (the incisive “Male Gaze”) and hilarious diatribes (the uncomfortable “Bathroom Laughter.”) Label Sub Pop describes it as “a recorded loop of a marching band being pushed down a waterslide,” which is pretty much the best description we’ve heard. This is your last chance to catch a free show at Morgan’s Pier this summer, and honestly, we couldn’t come up with a better closer ourselves. Forget about vibing out, cool beer and hand, and get ready to rage.

10:00 at Morgan’s Pier, 221 N. Columbus Blvd., free.

Thursday, August 29: Mac DeMarco

23-year-old “slacker” rocker Mac DeMarco writes warm, stripped-down pop songs about pretty girls and cigarettes; suburban angst and family drama. It’s a combo that feels achingly honest and natural—even though in reality it took DeMarco several tries to get it right (early EP’s exuded ‘80s, creepster sleaze.) Live, the capricious artist has tended towards the debauched—past shows have featured off-color jokes, nudity, and in one case, beer showers— and while label Captured Tracks swears he’s more grown up now, we admit we’re ok with a little craziness on a Thursday night. As DeMarco himself puts it: “If we're getting all loose and goofy, the crowd usually lightens up and starts having a funkier time.” We’ll toast to that!

9:00 at Milkboy Philly, 1100 Chestnut St., $10–$12. Tickets available here.

Saturday, August 31: Spaceship Aloha

Need an escape from the craziness that is Made in America? Head down to West Philly this Saturday for a FREE performance from Philly psych-weirdo Spaceship Aloha, guaranteed to deliver mega-vibes. A project from Man Man drummer Chris Powell (aka, Pow Pow), Spaceship Aloha combines Powell’s trademark spastic drumming with space-age sound effects and traditional Hawaiian vibes, for a result as lush and vibrant as a luau… on Mars. A long-time advocate of Hawaiian culture (“I’ve been obsessed since childhood,” he tells The Key), the project first came to fruition in 2011 after a voyage to Maui, where he fell in love with the tunes on Hawaiian FM radio. His first record, Universe Mahalo: Volume #1, dropped last year—since then, Powell’s been busy working on new stuff, and perfecting his energy-fueled live show. This is probably the closest you’ll get to a tropical escape this year (without leaving city limits!), so probably best to not sleep.

6:00 at 40th and Walnut, free.

Saturday, August 31–Sunday, September 1: Budweiser’s Made in America Festival

It’s finally here!  This weekend, one of the largest and most hyped festivals of the year rolls into Philly, with a ridiculous line-up of touring acts, including: Ms. Beyonce Knowles, the Queen Bee herself, ‘90s rock legends Nine Inch Nails AND Queens of the Stone Age, charming Francophiles Phoenix, mysterious dub master DeadMau5, and dozens more—transforming the Parkway into a venerable carnival of sweet tunes, dancing bodies, and delicious, $11 beers (a small price to pay for vibes?) And while the big names this year will certainly (we’re sure!) kill, we’re also psyched for 2013’s crop of up-and-comers—like Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky, British electronic duo AlunaGeorge, and so-poppy-it-hurts sister trio Haim. Plus is it wrong to hope for a cameo from organizer (and creator) Jay-Z?  Bring your sunglasses (and sunscreen) and prepare to stay the day. Being “made in America” never felt so right.

Saturday, August 31 through Sunday, September 1 at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, $89.50 per day or $150 for a 2-day pass, tickets available here.