Our Weekly Concert Picks: September 18–September 24

Steely Dan. Donald Fagen (left), Walter Becker (right)

In honor of the last official week of summer, here’s an entire week’s worth of outdoor concerts, including one that’s totally free.

Wednesday, September 18: Arctic Monkeys

There’s nothing quite like The Mann Center in the summer, with its lush, grassy hillsides, stunning views, and laidback feel—and this week, our fave Fairmount Park getaway ups the ante even more, with a ridiculous line-up of can’t miss shows. Escape from 9–5 monotony this Wednesday with British rockers the Arctic Monkeys, whose fifth record AM just debuted at number one on the UK charts—making them the first band on an indie label ever to score five consecutive number one hits. Compared to previous releases, AM sees the band—now based in LA—trading their drunken pub rock and jittery hooks for heavier, more classic rock-inspired ballads and blasters—such as the mellowed-out “Mad Sounds” and the dance-floor worthy “Knee Socks.” Pitchfork even goes as far as to compare them to U2—although we’d argue that front man Alex Turner doesn’t have nearly the ego to compete with Bono (and that’s a good thing!) And while there’s no doubt the new Monkeys will blast the Skyline Stage to the stratosphere, we still recommend showing up early to claim a nice patch of hillside—and to catch openers The Walkmen, whose quirky, riffy take on Dad-rock makes them longtime faves.

7:30 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., $35–$37. Tickets available here.

Thursday, September 19: Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend is the type of unlikely success story every frat bro palling around Penn wishes he had come up with—an Ivy League quartet complete with v-necks and lyrics about punctuation—turned Pitchfork sweethearts and stalwarts of the scene. Since 2007, the foursome’s released three records of sunny, poppy indie rock, and sold out venues across the globe—but never their creative control. (In fact, if anything, they’ve used their success as a springboard for other creative endeavors). They’ll stop by The Mann Center’s Skyline Stage this Thursday to promote new release Modern Vampires of the City, a genre-bending collection of tunes that is arguably their best yet: from the quiet melody of “Step” to the frenzied energy of “Diane Young.” Over the past six years, we’ve loved watching these guys grow—from lovable, crush-worthy dorks to serious musical auteurs—and are psyched to be joining them for their first Philly show in three years. See you on the lawn, Philly!

7:30 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., sold out—but try craigslist.

Thursday, September 19: Chill Moody

Philly rapper Chill Moody has come a long way since he graduated from Overbrook High School a few years back, between his scene-stealing performance at the 2012 Roots Picnic to the release of his untouchable debut, RFM, earlier this year. It’s not surprising, given his relentless work ethic (“A life dedicated, to them never saying I never made it” is his mantra), and creative and unique rhymes. He’ll headline this year’s fourth and final Third Thursdays Live and Local—a series of free concerts at the newly revamped Race Street Pier—alongside up-and-comers Joe Jordan and OSIRIS REX. Did we mention there’s also free beer? (Sponsored by the always delicious PBC.) Come sip a cold brew and watch the sun set on the Delaware, while vibing out to Chill’s “nice things.” We’ve never been sadder to see summer go.

8:00 at Race Street Pier, Race St. and Columbus Blvd., free.

Friday, September 20: Sigur Rós 

Head back to the Mann this Friday for Reykjavík experimentalists Sigur Rós, whose lush, orchestral soundscapes and occasionally punishing percussion aim to transport you far, far away from Philadelphia and Fairmount Park, into some sort of dark and magical mystery land. For more than a decade now, the trio of Jónsi Birgisson, Goggi Hólm, and Orri Páll Dýrason have delighted listeners with amorphous, minimalist concoctions, which have transitioned, over the years, from float-y, falsetto-based etherealism to the more bold and aggressive sounds of their seventh full-length, Kveikur. Live, the band is a wonder to behold, between Birgisson’s angelic vocals and bowed guitar-playing, and Hólm and Dýrason’s impressive beat-making. Add an idyllic outdoor setting, stunning visuals, and a gorgeous, breezy Friday night and you’ve got all the makings for a magical journey, from Reykjavík, to you.

7:30 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., $29.50–$47.50. Tickets available here

Saturday, September 21: Steely Dan

There was a time—in the not-too-distant past—when it was not cool to like Steely Dan.  It wasn’t Steely Dan’s fault, really—it was the fault of an industry obsessed with lo-fi and DIY, who favored grungy garage mixes and bedroom tinkerings over the jazzy horns and pristine mixes of Steely D. Luckily, that time has now passed—thanks in part to similarly immaculate releases from bands like Phoenix and Two Door Cinema Club (not to mention Philly’s own Work Drugs and Night Panther)—and thanks in part to the undeniable grooves of tunes like “Do It Again” and “Riki Don’t Lose That Number,” which have rightfully found their place in the classic rock canon. Since the early 1970’s, the duo of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have re-defined “smooth” as something both laidback, and technically complex, and have sold more than 40 million records doing it. These days, both founding members are in their 60s, but still sounding sharp—proof that that time spent “reelin’ in the years” paid off.

7:30 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., $30–$110. Tickets available here.

Sunday, September 22: Pet Shop Boys

If Steely Dan ain’t smooth enough for ya (of if you prefer your smooth vibes in the form of slippery, dance floor beats), consider closing out your weekend in style, with the sexy, salacious grooves of Britain’s Pet Shop Boys, an oft-categorized guilty pleasure that really, no one should be embarrassed to love. We’re not! In the past 30 years, the duo of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe has released 12 records, four number one hits, and has won two Brit awards—not to mention the credit for approximately 1,000,000 late-night hook-ups (we point out that it’s basically impossible to listen to “It’s a Sin” and not want to umm, sin.) These days, the pair are still making music, having released their 12th studio record, the surprisingly sensual Electric, this past July—and will stop by the Mann this Sunday to promote it. We suggest finding a date (and some breath mints), lest you head home with an affable stranger.

7:30 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., $29.50–$65. Tickets available here.