Our weekly concert picks: July 30–August 5

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 26: Musician John Legend performs onstage during the 56th GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

What we’re checking out this week! 

Wednesday, July 30: Nine Inch Nails

This week in Philly is all about repping your favorite ‘90s bands—in addition to Nine Inch Nails, there’s also The Offspring and Bad Religion playing Saturday at the E-Factory, and Slightly Stoopid playing Saturday at Festival Pier. But we’ll take NIN over the pretty fly for a white guy crew any day (although we still think Bad Religion is cool), and Trent Reznor’s pulverizing affronts over pretty much anything else. Since the late ‘80s, Reznor and co. have redefined “industrial” music, adding melody, theatrics, and sex appeal, and these days, songs like “Head Like a Hole” and “Closer” are practically generational anthems. Plus remember when Rez called out the Grammy producers for cutting short his performance last winter? That was bad-ass. The band is now touring behind 2013’s Hesitation Marks, but we have a feeling they’ll revisit some old tunes too. Also on the bill: Seattle grunge-metal giants Soundgarden, featuring Chris Cornell and his trademark 4-octave vocal range. The band released the surprisingly solid King Animal in 2012, although we’d be lying if we said we hope they don’t bust out some “Black Hole Sun,” so we can all pretend we’re in middle school again.

7:00 at the Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, $29.50–65. Tickets available here.


Friday, August 1: Juston Stens and The Get Real Gang

Intrepid traveler Juston Stens is not one to keep still. Since he first learned guitar some 30 years ago, the fearless rocker has played in countless bands—from short-lived Jersey punk acts to scene stalwarts like Dr. Dog—and has hit the road with everyone from Adam Arcuragi to Eric Burdon. These days, he fronts his own band, The Get Real Gang—although he still remains constantly on the go. His newest record, Share the Road, was written and recorded during an epic, 4-month motorcycle trip across the country, and features contributions from members of Dr. Dog, Apollo Sunshine, Wilco, Spoon, and more. It also inspired the documentary film I Lay Where I Fall, which tells the story of an artist finding his voice among the wild. He’ll celebrate its release this Friday at Boot & Saddle, where the breezy melodies and earthly exuberance will make you feel like you’re back on the open road, if for a few minutes only.

 8:30 at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., $10. Tickets available here.


Saturday, August 2: John Legend

If you choose “John Legend” as your stage name, you better have the chops to live up to your projected star power, and luckily R&B soul master John Legend (born John Roger Stephens) does just that. A veteran session musician-turned-star in his own right, Legend first made a name for himself singing in an a capella group at UPenn, then played piano on Lauryn Hill’s “Everything Is Everything” and shared production credits with Kanye,  before transitioning to the powerhouse he is today. Along the way, he became somewhat of a Philly legend, collaborating with The Roots for 2010’s Wake Up!, and even giving the commencement address at his alma mater last year. We love Legend for his smooth vocals, smart lyrics, and undeniable ear for melody—and can think of no better venue for his sensual tunes than outdoors at the Mann, where the open skies should provide the perfect background for grand, soaring melodies.

7:00 at the Mann Center for Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave., $30–99.50. Tickets available here.


Sunday, August 3: 2nd Street Festival

Another outdoor festival? Yes please! The 2nd Street Festival is one of our favorite outdoor events, and a great opportunity to spend the day outside, in the sunshine, shopping and listening to tunes. This year’s line-up features FOUR stages of entertainment and a ridiculous number of bands we’ve featured here before, including DRGN King, Joey Sweeney & The Long Hair Arkestra, Mock Suns, and Needle Points—plus others we might not have written about (yet) but still love—like Black Landlord, Lovers League, and TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb. There are also sweet handmade goods from Art Star, Duke & Winston, Smak Parlour, and more—and eats from your fave NoLibs standbys. Plus did we mention it’s free? And unlike the last block party we attended in this neighborhood, we expect this one to be decidedly less rowdy—not counting, of course, Needle Point’s raucous jamz.

Noon to 10 on 2nd Street from Green St. to Germantown Ave., free. More info available via the event’s website.