Tuesday, July 7, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 5:10 PM
Aziz Ansari and special guest Amy Schumer are set to headline Funny or Die's 2015 Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival. (Getty Images)

If you attended Funny or Die's Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival last year, you’ll recall Susquehanna Bank Center box offices displaying signs informing show goers that Amy Schumer would not be appearing at Camden’s festival date. (She made select appearances on last summer’s multi-city run.) Make no mistake this year — comedy’s leading lady will be there.

Headlined by Aziz Ansari — another comedian on last year’s bill (though not Camden’s) — and Schumer, the Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival again returns to the Susquehanna Bank Center for a Sunday, Sept. 13 show. The rest of the lineup is filled out by Anthony Jeselnik, Bridget Everett, Dave Attell, Jay Pharoah, John Mulaney, Michael Che, Nick Kroll and Nikki Glaser. The Redd’s Apple Ale Stage will be hosted by Big Jay Oakerson. 

Tickets are on sale Friday, July 10 at 10 a.m. while a number of presales kick off on Tuesday, July 8 at 10 a.m.

POSTED: Sunday, July 5, 2015, 7:23 AM
Filed Under: Music & Nightlife
During the closing of Saturday Night’s Philly 4th of July Jam, Philadelphia Mayor Michal Nutter drops the mic during a surprise performance of ‘Rapper’s Delight' with The Roots. (ABC 6)

Michael Nutter ended his final Fourth of July as Philadelphia’s mayor with a bang. Or more appropriately, a thud.

During the closing of Saturday Night’s Philly 4th of July Jam, Nutter made a surprise appearance onstage with The Roots and showcased his rap skills to a cheering crowd with his performance of ‘Rapper’s Delight.’

Following his rendition of The Sugar Hill Gang’s immortal classic, an out-of-breath Nutter emphatically dropped the microphone to the delight of the cheering crowd gathered on the Ben Franklin Parkway.

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 10:48 PM
Singer, songwriter and producer, Miguel performs during Philly 4th of July Jam & Fireworks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. (Michael Pronzato/Staff Photographer)

After The Roots played a second wildly energetic set featuring ginger-haired special guest Jeremy Ellis on the beatbox — plus a break for TV commercials — the band brought out Miguel, the songwriter whose just-out third album, Wildheart, keeps him on the leading edge of a movement of alt-R&B artists who freely mix musical elements from all over the pop and rock landscape into their sound. 

Dressed in flowing white from head to toe — in contrast to Nettles’ black evening gown — he played the role of the genre-blending love man who at his best — as in the falsetto-fluttering come-on “How Many Drinks” — makes music that lives up to the example of his musical heroes like Prince.

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 10:31 PM
Jennifer Nettles performs during Philly 4th of July Jam & Fireworks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. Nettles is the lead singer for country music act Sugarland. Photo: MICHAEL PRONZATO/ Staff Photographer

The Roots took the stage for the first part of their expansive performance shortly after 9 o’clock, introduced by a hyped-up Mayor Michael Nutter. He reminded the crowd that they were part of “the largest free outdoor concert in America” and called the Roots, led by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, “the best house band in America, if not the world!”

The band then launched into a free-flowing jam, starting with “Game Theory,” the title track from their 2006 album, located in “downtown Philly, where it’s realer than a heart attack.” They moved during which they moved for sharply snapping funk to playful marching band rhythms and jazzy interstitial interludes. Black Thought, shadowed by sousaphone player Damon Bryson (also known as Tuba Gooding Jr.), displayed dazzling verbal dexterity and a breath control so impressive it made you gasp just to listen to him.

Nettles, one half of the Nashville country-pop duo Sugarland, brought members of her band to play along with The Roots, and with Questlove snapping her songs to attention, the results were impressive. As popular a mainstream country force as Sugarland are, Nettles was hardly a natural fit for a Philadelphia audience more open to an “urban” act like Miguel, but she’s an undeniable powerhouse singer, and she had the gumption both to play an as yet unreleased single called “Sugar” for the first time live and to remake Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock” with gospel overtones in a way that surpassed the original.

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 8:58 PM
MKTO performs during Philly 4th of July Jam & Fireworks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. The group consists of Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller. Photo: MICHAEL PRONZATO / Inquirer

Los Angeles pop band MKTO — the duo of singer Malcolm Kelley and Tony Oller — preceded the three principal acts on stage, presumably on the strength of their fitting-for-the-Fourth signature song “American Dream,” which establishes the band’s generational identity by contrasting themselves with John Cougar Mellencamp: “This ain’t the same summer song that you used to know, because Jack left Diane 30 years ago.”

They followed that na-na-na singalong with the relentless hybrid hip-hop rock positivity of “Just Imagine It” and, lest they come across as overly serious types, reminded listeners that what they're really interested in is “Bad Girls.”

POSTED: Saturday, July 4, 2015, 7:16 PM
Kate Faust sings on the Questlove stage during the Welcome America 4th of July Festival on the Ben Franklin Parkway on Saturday, July 4, 2015. (MICHAEL PRONZATO/Staff Photographer)

Before the prime time portion of the show began, Independence Day revelers along the Parkway were entertained by a stream of acts playing on the smaller scale Questlove Stage, curated by Roots drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson.

As the cheesesteak-and-funnel-cake-munching crowd milled about in red, white, and blue garb — often topped with funny-looking foam fin hats promoting Shark Week programming on event sponsor Discovery Channel — Philadelphia songwriter Kate Faust played a compelling set of brooding electro-pop and energetic R&B entertainer Julian King got the crowd fired up with a slickly choreographed mix of originals from an upcoming debut EP and covers of radio hits like Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” and Nick Jonas’ “Jealous.” 

POSTED: Thursday, July 2, 2015, 3:45 PM
Lenny Kravitz performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

In a rare headlining appearance, Lenny Kravitz is set to take the Mann Center stage later this summer. Behind the release of his latest (NSFW) video, Kravitz announced a small batch of American tour dates. Philly’s stop is Sunday, Aug. 30.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 10.   

Though small, his involvement in this year’s Super Bowl halftime show was enough to get us ready for a Lenny appearance — don’t wait on tickets. 

POSTED: Thursday, July 2, 2015, 10:53 AM
Janet Devlin shook off years of insecurity while on the 'X Factor' in 2011. Now she plays World Cafe Live. (Photo by Rosie Hardy)

“Wake up every day like you’re Beyonce.”

That’s the advice that Irish singer-songwriter Janet Devlin has for girls struggling with low self-esteem. It’s guidance she gives herself, too. She’ll give it a try when she comes to World Cafe Live tonight.

Despite overcoming her fears on reality television, winning over audiences on “The X Factor” (the original UK version) and releasing an album she felt proud to put her name on, there are still those nagging worries.

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Encompassing the sounds and beats of the city, we're here to turn you on to the local notables and under-the-radar artists, while showing you more of the bands and hot spots you already know and love.

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