Summer’s almost gone. Last week I met my new batch of students at Temple and this coming Monday people around the country are going to celebrate Labor Day by barbequing with family, taking a dip in an above-ground pool, and all kinds of other things that are lame as shit.
Although I’m glad to be getting a paycheck for the first time since May, I am going to miss summer and doing little more than drinking PBR, watching the Criterion Collection, and half-heartedly pondering revolution. Well, (as always) I did go to a lot of gigs. In honor of all of the bands that managed to get me out of my apt. (not an easy task) at least a handful of times each week I have constructed my Summer Concert Superlatives, giving due credit (for better or worse) to some of Philadelphia’s more noteworthy shows this summer.
“Best Overall Lineup”
Lenka/Elizabeth & the Catapult/Shannon Corey @ North Star Bar (6/11)
This is the show I was talking about all summer. The world’s loveliest piano popper (Lenka) alongside the world’s wisest (Elizabeth Ziman), along with support from briefly-local lovely, Shannon Corey. Check back for my upcoming chat with Ziman that will hit the blog shortly before her Philthy appearance with Sara Bareilles at the Electric Factory. Oh, and go to that.
Pomplamoose @ World Café Live (6/22)
Okay, so I wasn’t necessarily expecting this to be great, but I wasn’t at all expecting what I got. In all fairness, it really wasn’t the band’s fault. Apparently this husband-wife-duo, who cover famous songs in a conservatively quirky way are huge with white people from the suburbs who enjoy heartily laughing at good, clean humor. I’ve never been to a PTA Christmas party serving adult beverages, but I’m pretty sure I know the experience.
“Show I Wish I Had Gone To”
The Coathangers @ The Barbary (6/23)
I have seen this band countless times and I actually have the lead singer’s phone number, but their publicist was lazy about getting back to me (And I’m really strict about not paying for any show, aside from those sacred four, even if it’s only $8.) and I was having a long week, so I just decided to take a night off. Since the passing of Be Your Own Pet, I think The Coathangers have done better than any other band at upholding the aesthetic of Riot Grrrl.
“Show You’ll Wish You Were At”
Jessica 6 @ Kung Fu Necktie (6/24)
I may just be hopeful, but I have the feeling that this band is going to be huge. This is the first band that ever got me to enjoy disco (It’s actually pretty badass when the gender transgressions are explicit.) Their April show at the venue had an audience falling out the front door for the sweatiest and most fabulous thing I’ve seen all year. Unfortunately, for this next time around, a Katy Perry concert had drained the city of its queer population almost entirely, so this one was a little less exciting… although it was still pretty fucking great.
Mountain Man @ First Unitarian Church (7/25)
This female vocal trio who sing songs in the tradition of Appalachian folk sound as though they may simply be characters on Portlandia. However, they’re actually quite good. Good enough to pack yourself into a 200-year-old, un-airconditioned chapel, fit for 50 people, alongside another 69 on a day with a heat index of 100. Pew seating ran out, so the aisle was packed to capacity with floor-sitting hipsters. No one there lost less than ten pounds during the duration of the hour-long performance; the common goal was simply to not vomit or pass out.
“Biggest Fucking Disaster”
The Airborne Toxic Event @ The Piazza (8/6)
I don’t know how it didn’t occur to me that this was going to be a disaster. A band that can sell-out two nights at the Troc plays a free afternoon show at Philthy’s bastion of suburban normativity. The event drew (based on observation) what looked like around fifteen-thousand (I may be way off), many of whom were children, dogs, or cargo-shorted. The bars had ten-minute waits and the bathrooms twenty-person, so intoxication was an unlikely cure for the environment. The sound system was built for a lecture from the reptile guy, so I’m not sure anyone beyond the first five rows are aware of what songs were played. Lead singer Mikel Jollett did make his way into the audience and up onto the lighting rigs… that looked pretty cool… well, from what I could see… my view was obstructed by a tree.
April Smith and the Great Picture Show @ Johnny Brenda’s (8/13)
Not that April Smith isn’t completely alluring, but I did not expect this to be quite so exciting. The tutu-ed Smith strutted onto the stage to star in her postmodern cabaret composed of the most charming wit this side of the Dixie, dripping with red-blooded sensuality (I think it’s implied what anatomical region that red blood would find itself.)
“Best Dinner Theater Show”
Lindi Ortega @ The Tin Angel (8/20)
Lindi Ortega is the most badass individual to play a dinner theater venue in Philadelphia all year. Although her sound would be better fit for a barn or whiskey bar, it was still quite good, despite the circumstances. Check out my review and interview with her here.