Nick Lowe is a musical genius who through the years has refused to stagnate, churning out smart, witty material for nearly four decades. Born Nicholas Drain Lowe in Surrey, England, he released his very first single “So It Goes” in 1976—then went on to write hits for Elvis Costello (including “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”), Rockpile, and father-in-law Johnny Cash. His 1979 single “Cruel to Be Kind” reached #12 on the British and U.S. charts, and won him a cult following of fans addicted to his off-kilter pop. He’s produced records for Costello, Graham Parker, The Pretenders, and The Damned, and in recent years, has released a string of excellent country and soul-tinged pop records that reveal a tender soul happy out of the spotlight. “I've always felt kind of like an outsider, even when I was very successful back in the old days,” he tells GQ. “[These days], if you're an outsider, it's something to be celebrated.” Apparently he’s not too much of an outsider though, as this show is SOLD OUT. May we recommend Craigslist?
8:00 at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., sold out.
Friday, July 9: Hunx and His Punx
Seth Bogart goes by the name “Hunx,” which is almost all you need to know to understand what Hunx and His Punx—Bogart’s gay-loving, camp-obsessed, punk band—is all about. Formed in 2008 by Bogart and friends, the band’s released three records of fringe pop that runs the gamut from 1960’s style girl groups (made punk-y thanks to lo-fi production and deliberate fuzz) to more GG Allin-inspired ragers. On new record Street Punk, the focus is definitely more on the latter, with spastic, snot-nosed nugs that nearly all clock in under 2-minutes—and which feature screaming, shredding, and killer guest vocals from Hunx’s punk Shannon Shaw (also of Shannon and the Clams). Live the band has displayed a penchant for over-the-top antics, including (we’ve heard) moshing, stripping, and (playful) audience molestation. Set ‘em loose in a BYO, DIY spot like PhilaMOCA, and you’ve got the recipe for a wild time.
7:30 at PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., $12. Tickets available here.
Friday, July 9: Elephant Stone
Elephant Stone is this week’s pick for bands you probably aren’t listening to, but should be. Front man Rishi Dhir is of Indian descent and picked up his first sitar in 1997. His prowess quickly grew, as did word of his skill, and within years he was playing and touring with the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Angels and The Horrors, all before founding Elephant Stone. With ES, Dhir and bandmates weave elements of classical and traditional Indian music into lush soundscapes (the band’s name is a nod to the 1988 Stones Roses song of the same name), and 60’s-influenced rock and psychedelia. The result is a unique yet oddly familiar juxtaposition of sounds, that recollects both Ravi Shankar (who Dhir admits to listening to as a child) and The Beatles in India, but still sounds decidedly new. Their 2009 record The Seven Seas was longlisted for the Polaris Prize in home country Canada—now, four years later, they’ve released their self-titled sophomore record, which is the start of big things to come. Don’t sleep!
8:00 at Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., $10. Tickets available here.
Friday, August 9: Shuggie Otis
A legend made at age 12, when he allegedly donned a fake mustache and shades to play late-night blues with his father’s band (the “Godfather of Rhythm and Blues,” Johnny Otis), Shuggie Otis’s guitar skills remain pretty much unparalleled, even all these years later. Still, history was somewhat unkind to the young wunderkind, who—despite early successes—disappeared into obscurity for a large period of his life, until the reissue of his 1974 record Inspiration Information by David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label in 2001. Back in his heyday, Young Shuggie gained attention from contemporaries such as B. B. King (who once called him his “favorite new guitar player”), Frank Zappa, Etta James, and more, and saw his 1971 single “Strawberry Letter 23” skyrocket to number 5 on the charts when The Brothers Johnson covered it in 1977. Yet somehow, Otis’s label, Epic Records, felt he wasn’t living up to his potential, and he was dropped in 1974. For years, he remained under the radar—until new interest in the record sparked a few reunion shows and finally—a full-scale tour. These days, Shuggie is 59, but still shreds like the best of ‘em. Catch him now, lest you have to wait another 30 years.
8:30 at The Blockley, 3800 Chestnut St., $25–$30. Tickets available here.
Monday, August 12: El-P and Killer Mike
Jaime “El-P” Meline and Michael “Killer Mike” Render are unstoppable forces independently, and together are arguably even more unstoppable. A rapper since the early ‘90s, who branched out on his own in 2001, El-P has consistently proven himself one of the most creative and relentless modern rappers, who’s refused to give in to the demands of the industry, and whose dense, literary flow (which often incorporates bits of sci-fi and other nerdery) and funky, late-night beats are instantly recognizable. Killer Mike, on the other hand, made a name for himself in the big leagues right off the bat, guesting on tracks for OutKast and Jay-Z before dropping his first (equally funky) record in 2003—mixing accessible raps with powerful commentary. Recently, the two artists (whose 2012 records BOTH earned them P’fork BNM stripes) joined together to form summer party group Run the Jewels, a so-fly-it-hurts collection of hard-hitting anthems. We expect solo sets from each, and some no-holds-barred collabs this Monday.
8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $18–$20. Tickets available here.