Wednesday, May 8: Palma Violets at Johnny Brenda’s
Palma Violets are among the newest in a long line of scrappy British rockers (See: The Clash, The Libertines, The Arctic Monkeys, The Vaccines) who aim to capture something visceral and honest via sloppy riffs, big, catchy refrains, and the type of rugged enthusiasm that practically spills off of the record and into the listener’s brain. Formed in 2011 by a group of school friends disillusioned with the current state of rock’n roll, the band gained traction in 2012 with a series of outrageous house shows at London’s Studio 180, then signed to Rough Trade Records shortly after. Their debut single, “Best of Friends,” was voted Song of the Year by NME, and propelled the foursome to the fore of British rock. Their debut record, 180, is a fun, sort of windows-down rager that will undoubtedly prove the soundtrack to many a summer jawn—although we hear the band is really at its best live, where their shouted refrains and high-energy antics are known to inspire revelry.
9:00 at Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $12. Tickets available here.
Friday, May 10: Vacationer at Underground Arts
It’s Friday. It’s the spring. It’s only two weekends ‘til Memorial Day weekend (count ‘em: one, two). If it were a few months earlier, we’d tell you to go see Youth Lagoon at Union Transfer, and revel in the wintery soundscapes. But since you’re already dreaming about sunny weather ANYWAY, why not head to Underground Arts and soak up the summery vibes of Vacationer, a band whose very name conjures images of icy drinks and beach blankets. Formed two years back by Philly’s Kenny Vasoli, Vacationer aims to create music to transport, courtesy of twinkling synths, lush vocal harmonies, and low-key, electro-pop beats. Friday’s show is the next installment in their “Nude Beach” party series, a destination-inspired celebration that also features a makeshift volleyball court, and free Sailor Jerry rum drinks. Nothing says vacation like a pina colada! Before you go: Check out this trippy vid for single “Trip” and dream of the beach. Plus arrive early for sets from Brooklyn’s Body Language, and local sex-pop quartet Night Panther.
9 p.m. at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., $8. Tickets available here.
Saturday, May 11: Todd Rundgren at the Troc
Yeah, he’s old, and his haircut kinda sucks. But when it comes to the Philly scene, Rundgren remains an undisputed legend, who always was, and always will be cool. Here are five things we love about Todd, one for each decade he’s been making music:
1980’s: Rundgren’s “Time Heals” is one of the first music videos shown on MTV; he also produces XTC’s mind-blowing Skylarking. “Bang the Drum All Day” comes out during this period too, but we’ll forgive him this one, since there was no way he could have known it would be appropriated by travel commercials and sports fans.
1990’s: Rundgren transforms venues across America into tiki bars for his With a Twist… tour. Much tequila is consumed.
2000’s: Rundgren joins The Cars, decides it’s just what he needed.
2010’s: Rundgren continues to propel himself forward, delving into the world of electronica for his 2013 record State. He chooses smaller venues like the Troc over big stadiums for his current tour; admits he digs Frank Ocean and Bon Iver, but finds Beyonce “histrionic.” We dig his honesty, and can’t find to see what he has up his sleeve.
8 p.m. at The Troc, 1003 Arch St., $29.50–$32. Tickets available here.
Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12: Art Star Craft Bazaar at Penn’s Landing
Q: What’s better than drinking beer and watching bands at night? A: Drinking beer and watching bands during the day, OUTSIDE! This Saturday and Sunday, the Art Star Craft Bazaar takes over Penn’s Landing, bringing more than 100 vendors selling handmade clothes, jewelry, accessories, and more. But if that’s not reason enough to lure you to the waterfront, consider the sweet, two-day line-up of local bands, curated by local snarksters Philebrity. Folksy, Americana rockers The Bailey Hounds headline Saturday, along with bluesy+ sweet Philadelphians Arrah and the Ferns, while Sunday sees headlining sets from feel-good popsters The Fleeting Ends and “whiskey blues” rockers TJ Kong & The Atomic Bomb. Before you go: Check out the list of vendors here—then stream a playlist of all the bands on the roster here. Did we mention it’s free? What a great way to spend a sunny, spring weekend!
11 a.m.–6 p.m. at Penn’s Landing, Columbus Blvd. between Market and Walnut Sts., free.
Sunday, May 12: Ghostface Killah at the Blockley
Yes, we’re serious. This Sunday, famed Wu Tang member and rapper extraordinaire Dennis “Ghostface Killah” Coles will let loose his fly jams at The Blockley, a space much smaller and more intimate than one might expect from a multi-platinum artist. For more than 20 years now, Ghostface has blown minds (and eardrums) both with the Clan, and independently, and has topped many a “Greatest MCs” list thanks to his smooth flow and emotional storytelling. He’s released 10 solo records, and collaborated on dozens more; he’s guest-starred on two episodes of 30 Rock (the pinnacle of cool, i.o.h.o.) and he even has a beer named after him (which, much like his raps, is somewhat untouchable.) He’s now touring in support of his just-released LP Twelve Reasons to Die, a concept album inspired by the comic book of the same name. Before you go: scope the creepy, cinematic vid for single “Rise of the Ghostface Killah” and consider calling out sick on Monday.
9 p.m. at The Blockley, 3801 Chestnut St., $25–$30. Tickets available here.