What we’re catching live this week
Wednesday, February 19: Lil Dicky
In some ways, it’s a story you’ve heard a million times before: middle class kid from the suburbs downloads Garage Band and writes some tunes; he posts them online and the Internet is obsessed. But Dave Burd is no Chaz Bundick or Trevor Powers, writing intimate grooves for a P’fork audience. No, Burd is writing raps, inspired by his life: about being White, living with roommates, and being intimidated by his girlfriend’s ex. “I tend to rap about normal guy things,” he tells Maxim. “I think a lot of rap is just escalated to a place that many people can't relate to.” A native of Cheltenham, who studied business at the University of Richmond, Burd adopted the moniker “Lil Dicky” and starting posting videos online about 9 months ago, winning fans with his relatability and sense of humor. The videos took off, and before he realized it he had quit his job to pursue music full-time, earning more than $100K through Kickstarter to fund his debut record and tour. We <3 Burd because he’s not afraid to be himself (even if “himself” is strange and occasionally naked)—and because his take on hip-hop is both honest and hilarious. He stops by the TLA this Wednesday for his first-ever live performance—get in on the ground floor now, and claim bragging rights later.
8:00 at the TLA, 334 South St., $12. Tickets available here.
Thursday, February 20: Courtney Barnett
Of all the acts touring Philadelphia this month, I’m probably most excited for Courtney Barnett, Australian crooner and composer, whose smart, witty pop songs manage to be both exactly on point and charmingly lackadaisical—much like the journey she dreams up in “History Eraser.” A 25-year-old Melbourne native, who formed her own DIY label in 2012 and self-released her first EP just after, Barnett comes off as both brilliantly talented and super laidback, like she’d be cool binge-watching Netflix (if only her TV was working) or writing intense, wordy diatribes, complete with Ezra Pound references. And ultimately, that’s what makes her special. She’s like the best version of all of us: articulate, funny, and well-mannered, even if she’s also drunken, stoned, and trying to figure things out. Vocally, she channels Dylan—if he was a 20-something with a bike and a crush—and musically, she’s both raucous and grungy on “History Eraser” and twangy and sincere on “Out of the Woodwork.” She makes her Philly debut at Union Transfer this week; the show was moved to UT after it sold out Boot & Saddle almost immediately.
8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., sold out.
Friday, February 21: RJD2 with Lushlife
Philly DJs RJD2 and Lushlife team up for an evening of danceable grooves. For 15 years now, RJ Krohn has been perfecting his own blend of dancefloor gold, composed from snippets of hip-hop, funk, jazz, and soul samples, collaged together into a genre-defying mélange. Over the years, he’s proven himself a master of both the funky and the soulful—and has amassed a house-full of records and an insane number of production creds while doing so. These days, he’s touring in support of his fifth record, More Is Than Isn’t, which sees the uncategorizeable mixer fusing many of his ideas together, into a career-defining oeuvre. He’s joined Friday night by South Philly’s Lushlife, aka Raj Haldar, bedroom composer and mash-up master, whose latest creative visions include the Tonybee Suite, a four-part, 140-track hip-hop epic, which was recorded in 48 hours as part of Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through series. Together, we’re not quite sure what mischief these two will get into, but we have a feeling you’re gonna want to be around for it.
9:00 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $20. Tickets available here.
Sunday, February 23: DIIV
In some ways, Brooklyn’s DIIV are the quintessential band for today’s vibe-obsessed public: full of dreamy, amorphous rockers that are both intimately personal and amorphously universal; that can be listened to standing still, letting the melodies wash over you, or by thrashing about in a fit of post-punk moodery. The solo project-turned-buzz-band of Zachary Cole Smith, auteur and poster child for today’s disaffected youth, right down to his leather jacket and much publicized arrest record—DIIV offer an escape from monotony for music lovers caught up in a 9-to-5, with dreamy melodies and a DIY lifestyle spurred by live performances. They’re now hard at work on their yet-untitled sophomore record, due out this spring—which Smith has promised will be darker than previous works (see a live performance of new tune “Dust” here). They play Boot & Saddle this Sunday; show up early for openers Drone Ranger and Lantern, aka two Philly bands, whose skuzz-fuzz prowess and rock’n roll licks respectively are well worth the price of admission.
8:00 at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., $3. Tickets available here.
Tuesday, February 25: Justin Timberlake
15 years ago, if someone had told an eighth-grade me that Justin Timberlake—the curly-haired, N Sync sweetie whose perfect harmonies made “Tearin’ Up My Heart” a staple at middle school dances—would become one of the biggest idols of this generation…I probably wouldn’t have believed it (because what has Joey Fatone done since then?) But it’s been more than a decade since JT bid “Bye Bye Bye” to his boy band past, and since then, he’s seamlessly transitioned into one of the 21st century’s most creative pop stars, with three number one records, an impressive number of chart-topping singles, and featured roles in more than a dozen Hollywood films. We admire JT for his dedication to his craft; fearless pursuit of real emotion (find me a pop song more touching than “Cry Me a River”); and super-slick, untouchable dance moves—whether nodding his head in unison, puppet-like, or slinking across the stage seductively on “SexyBack.” This Tuesday, he brings his larger-than-life show to the Wells Fargo Center—for a result that will have teens and adults alike screaming with glee.
8:00 at the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., $49.50–$175. Tickets available here.