Picks for the first week of October!
Wednesday, October 1: Lykke Li
Swedish singer Lykke Li has one of those voices in pop — strong, moody, and able to draw you in with a single murmur or turn of phase. The daughter of a musician and photographer, Li has art in her blood, and claims she pursued music because "she just had to," standing up suddenly on bar stools (at venues where she wasn't on the bill) — and belting out tunes for unsuspecting audiences. ("I got booed out several times," she admits.) Yet the young songstress continued, and after years of perseverance slowly rose to the ranks of indie elite, thanks to a sensual performance style and gorgeous ballads that put the focus on her stunning voice. She now boasts three records, including this year's I Never Learn, a sparse break-up record that somehow never feels like it's dragging you down, but instead pulls you into a dark and intriguing fantasy. She stuns this Wednesday at Union Transfer; come rid your demons in the most beautiful way we can think of.
8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $32. Tickets available here.
Wednesday, October 1: Spelling Reform
New band alert! Philly rock quartet Spelling Reform are only 4 months old, but already have landed a residency at Ortlieb's, performing a FREE show four Wednesdays in October. Formed from the ashes of quirky rock group The Quelle Source, Spelling Reform draw from all your fave '90s bands (think Pavement, GBV, Wilco), combining front man Dan Wisniewski's unique vocals and lyrics with playful, guitar jangle. Since playing their first show in June, they've already amassed a small following and will hone their craft all month long. Each show will be dedicated to one of their fave influencers, beginning with Pavement; the band promises to pepper its set with covers and possibly even some Malkmus-y antics (i.e., wearing collared shirts, being sarcastic). Seriously, we have a great feeling about this band and are psyched to watch them bloom! Below, stream single "Together Apart," then get ready to revamp your Wednesdays.
9:00 at Ortlieb's, 847 N. 3rd St., free.
Friday, October 3: Big Freedia
New Orleans rapper Big Freedia crafts "Bounce" music, a Nawlins hip-hop variant that just so happens to be perfect party music, combining call-and-response choruses with fun, danceable beats. A high school choir boy turned drag queen diva, whose rap skills are rivaled only by her ability to throw the most raucous, booty-shaking-est party — Freedia got her start performing around New Orleans with local drag queen Katey Red, then found her influence expanding when she relocated to Texas during Hurricane Katrina. When she returned during the Reconstruction stage, she quickly became a star; since then she's toured with Matt & Kim and The Postal Service, and even starred on her own Fuse TV show. We <3 this diva because she's not afraid to do her own thing, and because getting down to her jams are a very funky way to spend a Friday night. She stops by Boot & Saddle this weekend — unfortunately, tickets are sold out, so we hope you scooped yours up in advance.
8:30 at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St., sold out.
Sunday, October 5: Cloud Nothings
When I first heard Cloud Nothings' 2011 self-titled debut, I knew it was something special. There was an honesty; a rawness to it that I could relate to; it reminded me of the punk and emo jamz I used to listen to religiously in high school, driving around the suburbs, screaming lyrics out my car window. It was real, raw, and it felt right. Yet had anyone suggested to me that half a decade later, the band would still be one of the most compelling…I probably wouldn't have believed it (because who can count on punks for consistency?) Instead, the Cleveland, OH trio — and its antisocial, endlessly creative front man Dylan Baldi — soldiered on, becoming darker and more compelling with each LP. They're now touring behind 2014's Here and Nowhere Else, and will play Union Transfer this Sunday. Honestly, I love this band, and after reading this in-depth profile of Baldi — who comes off as a spoiled brat — I was worried their music would fall flat. But it's still as bone-crushing as ever…and actually maybe a little brattiness is a tiny piece of what punk is all about. Either way, I'm on board.
8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 15. Tickets available here.
Tuesday, October 7: King Tuff
Like many Philadelphians who spent their tender years going to R5 shows at the First Unitarian Church, awkwardly lining up on the sidewalk outside, sweating it out in the summer and never knowing what to do with your coat in the winter, the recent news that concerts there will be less frequent prompted an outpouring of memories of my fave times there — seeing bands like Beach House and Local Natives and The Breeders and Dead Man's Bones (featuring Ryan Gosling). Luckily, R5 has packed the venue's calendar for the next two months, with shows from Iceage, Hurry, The Dismemberment Plan, and more — giving you plenty of chances to sweat it out once more. (Shows will still continue on the weekends in the basement, and in the sanctuary and side chapel as usual). First on my list? Vermont stoner-pop trio King Tuff, whose take on punk is rowdy, poppy, and playful. They're joined by former Vivian Girl and Brooklyn lo-fi royalty Cassie Ramone, whose new record The Time Has Come reveals her vulnerable side. I don't even need to mention fall is the best time for the church, when the weather is mild and you feel comfy in a flannel. See you there Philly!
8:30 at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., $13–14. Tickets available here.