Our Weekly Concert Picks: January 29–February 4

Dr. Dog performs at the XPoNential Music Festival held at the Susquehanna Bank Center. (Colin Kerrigan / Philly.com)

Two double-headers, and more ways to warm up this winter 

Wednesday, January 29: Jay Z

A lot of the shows I tend to recommend here are small, DIY affairs: bands you maybe haven’t heard of yet (but should!) playing bars in Fishtown, or South Philly. These shows are fun, affordable, and a better way to spend your weeknights than watching Big Bang Theory re-runs. But sometimes live music isn’t about cheap PBRs and KFN bathroom selfies. Sometimes live music is about totally balling out with your crew, popping champagne bottles in the Uber limo, rolling down the windows and screaming “YOLO” at the top of your lungs (ed note: “YOLO” is ok again in 2014). This Wednesday gives you the chance to do exactly that, as the King of Class (and also New York), Mr. Shawn Jay Z Carter, stops by Philly during his Magna Carta tour. Fresh off a double-Grammy win (his collab with Justin Timberlake, “Holy Grail,” won Best Collab, while TJ’s “Suite and Tie,” featuring Jay’s raps, won Best Video), AND a steamy performance with wife Bey, the hip-hop mogul seems to be flying high these days,  and will bring that positive energy to play tonight. But don’t expect a team of experimental dancers or a questionable catwork for Bed Stuy’s King—our man Jay likes to keep it (comparatively) simple, allowing his fly raps to do the talking. We can dig it.

8:00 at Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., $32.50–$150. Tickets available here.


Wednesday, January 29 and Thursday, January 30: Neutral Milk Hotel

Neutral Milk Hotel are an actually pretty great band from the ‘90s that gets a bad rap because of all the dramatic, whiny hipsters that claim them as influences. Don’t listen to these people. Instead, listen to In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, their breakthrough 1998 record supposedly inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank, whose creative palate twinkles with jangly guitar, brass, and creator Jeff Magnum’s distinct, emotional vocals. Formed in the early ‘90s by Magnum—a Ruston, LA native + Elephant 6 co-founder—Neutral Milk Hotel released two records, in ‘96 and ’98, then disbanded just as they started to become popular due to Magnum’s fragile emotional state. For years afterwards, he remained mostly inactive, contributing only to related E6 projects (including Olivia Tremor Control and the mysterious Major Organ and the Adding Machine) and refusing nearly all interview requests—despite growing interest in Aeroplane and the band. These days, Aeroplane is practically required listening for any freshman scenester, and the media’s interpreted Magnum’s silence as a sign of mad genius—a portrayal that might or might not be accurate, but certainly has contributed to the legend. He’ll stop by Philly this week with a reunited NMH for two shows—at the Tower Theatre and at Union Transfer. Both, of course, are long sold-out, but we actually recommend Craig’s List in this case—not for the cred, but for the songs themselves.

8:30 on Wednesday, January 29 at the Tower Theater, 6900 Ludlow St., and 8:30 on Thursday, January 30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., both sold out, but try Craig’s List.


Friday, January 31 and Saturday, February 1: Dr. Dog

If the Philly scene music scene were a human being—with Pink as its gravity-defying feet, Meek Mill as its well-mannered hands, and Kurt Vile as its awkward subconscious, Dr. Dog would be its ever-beating heart: steady, strong, and filled with love for the city and the scene. For more than a decade now, the Philly rockers have regaled crowds with jaunty, radio-friendly pop gems, slowly becoming our go-to source for vibes. Formed in the early aughts by childhood pals Toby Leaman and Scott McMicken, plus friends in and around Philadelphia, the band gained traction slowly, transitioning from DIY rockers with an 8-track and a string of basement gigs to ANTI- signees whose most recent record, B-Room, was one of our very faves of the year. Live, the men of Dr. Dog tend toward fun, indulgent antics—such as silly costumes, covers, and the occasional 25-minute encore. They stop by the Electric Factory this week for TWO back-to-back shows on Friday and Saturday—we recommend showing up early on Friday to catch openers (and recent Fat Possum signees) The Districts, whose take on rock’n roll is super-charged and soulful.

8:30 at the Electric Factory, 471 N. 7th St., $27.50. Tickets for Friday available here (Saturday is sold out).


Saturday, February 1: Mirah

Bala Cynwyd’s own Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn—or as she’s known more commonly, Mirah—is not the type of artist to rest on her laurels, writing records that copy previous works. In fact, her discography over the past decade reads more like an experiment in different genres—from the thoughtful and understated to the political, to the unabashedly dance-y, to the breezy and fun. This May, she’ll up the ante even more with her new LP Changing Light—her first solo record in five years, and the culmination of her work so far. We <3 Mirah for her gorgeous, float-y vocals, beautiful melodies, and ability to perfectly capture complex emotions in a 4-minute pop song, and are excited to catch a glimpse of new stuff this weekend. She’ll be joined by jazz-blues band DIVERS, featuring sister Emily Ana, for what she jokes is a “Too Many Zeitlyns Are Never Enough” tour. We tend to agree.

8:30 at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., $13–$15. Tickets available here.