The big guide to 41 essential Philly live music shows this winter

How to navigate the next four months in music.

musicshow
Via the assorted artists' pictured

The kick about live music is that it’s a shared experience that can’t be repeated. Each performance is singular, even when setlists are the same from town to town. And there’s never a shortage of talent and musical variety coming through Philly. We’re talking rock, neo-soul, hip-hop, R&B, indie-alternative, psychedelic, trip-hop, EDM, dubstep, Tropicália and country — and that’s just the start of it.

Which shows are worth your time and money? We combed through the venue calendars and filtered through the listings, and found 41 unforgettable live music experiences from now through April. Get your tickets while you can.

Datsik (Jan. 14)

Dubstep diehards can get their brain buzz on with Canadian DJ and music producer Troy Beetles, better known as Datsik. Mentored by fellow Canadian dubstep master Jeff Abel of Excision, Datsik started his career releasing tracks in his “robostep” style and then began collaborating with the likes of The Crystal Method, Wu-Tang Clan and Diplo. His 2011 debut album, Vitamin D, came out on Dim Mak Records, the label of famed DJ Steve Aoki. This time around, Beetles will be behind the decks promoting Sensei, his EP that dropped just a few weeks ago. The show, part of the Ninja Nation tour, should be a pounding ear-bleeder.
Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., 215-627-1332

Wax Tailor (Jan. 17)

Kick off the year with some sophisticated French trip-hop? Tres chouette. Jean-Christophe Le Saoût uses his impeccable taste in sampling — clips of Nina Simone in How I Feel, Doris Day in Que Sera, Orson Wells in Citizen Kane — to create synth-heavy chill arrangements adorned with sleek horn solos, sexy percussion and a dreamy vibe. Bonus: Philly poet and activist Ursula Rucker collaborated with Le Saoût on the killer track “We Be.”
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

Anthony David (Jan. 18)

R&B/soul singer Anthony David has a voice that sounds similar to Luther Vandross and Seal — i.e. his songs should be loaded into your “seduction” playlist ASAP. He croons, he cajoles, he smoothly operates into a complete musical courtship with his listener. David wrote several songs for his friend India.Arie before the duo recorded the Grammy-nominated track, “Words” (found on his album Acey Duecy). David’s latest, The Powerful Now, was released last summer.
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400

Kings of Leon (Jan. 19)

Fresh off delivering their seventh full album (Walls), Kings of Leon is doing the stadium-touring thing, filling tour stops with their power rock, anthem-style singalongs. When it was released last fall, the album shot to the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart, and the once garage-band now rules the arena circuit.
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., 215-336-3600

Brotherly Love Benefit Concert (Jan. 20)

A dazzling lineup of Philly talent unites to raise money for their friend, jazz trombonist Jeff Bradshaw, who suffers from severe diverticulitis. A mix of neo-soul, R&B and jazz will be led by Grammy winner Jill Scott, sharing a set list with Bilal (Let’s hope for another stunning cover of Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones”), Robert Glasper, Raheem DeVaughn, Kenny Lattimore, Najee, Eric Roberson and Algebra Blessett, a singer you might recognize from Anthony David’s 2011 super catchy track, “4Evermore.” Bradshaw, who has previously worked with the Roots, Erykah Badu, Jazzy Jeff and Jay-Z, was diagnosed this fall.
TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011

Funtcase (Jan. 21)

Trashy bro-step or fun, sweaty, deep bass show? Depends who you ask — but the masses who go to his shows love their mask-wearing deejay. Funtcase, aka 29-year-old Brit James Hazell, got his start in Bournemouth back when dubstep was in its infancy. He’s considered one of the genre’s veterans and credited with helping bring it across the ocean. Bass-heads stateside enjoy his massive sounding bangers like “Mattress Punch” and “So Vexed.”
District N9ne, 460 N. 9th St., 215-769-2780

Adam Ant (Jan. 26)

Rock and roll flair is something Adam Ant knows from, well, himself. The 80s star is back with the Kings of the Wild Frontier tour, which has been met with huge popular success. Sure it’s a glam nostalgia-fest, but there’s no denying the musical and theatrical fun of watching him strut and preen in his cavalry uniform while masterfully delivering the entirety of the KOTWF album and his other new wave hits like “Antmusic,” “Stand and Deliver,” “Goody Two Shoes” and “Prince Charming.”
Keswick Theater, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside, 215-572-7650

Rubblebucket (Jan. 28)

Groovy indie-rock Brooklyn band Rubblebucket basically lives for the connection and jubilance of live shows. Founding members Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth met as music majors at the University of Vermont and officially formed a group in 2007. The eight-piece band creates a percussion- and horn-heavy party of funk, reggae and pop. Don’t be surprised at the sight of balloons and confetti, all a part of the theatrics.
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

Parquet Courts (Jan. 31)

Indie-punk rockers Parquet Courts are current critical darlings — the Brooklyn band’s latest, Human Performance, made tons of of 2016 top lists. Their smart art-punk of layered rhythms and clever songwriting pairs well with the evident sheer delight they get from making music.
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

Isaiah Rashad (Feb. 4)

Talented Chattanooga MC Isaiah Rashad has publicly described his demons, including a period of dependence on Xanax and alcohol, but his new album, The Sun’s Tirade, harnesses the pain for creative good. His smart, chilled out flow is magnetic, and makes you want to hear more of his stories. Check out “Heavenly Father,” “Free Lunch,” and “Bday” — he can hold his own with Top Dawg Entertainment label-mates Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q.
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

Maren Morris (Feb. 4)

Watch SNL? You might’ve caught Maren Morris when she gave a sassy and soulful rendition of her hit “My Church” last December. Morris’s debut album, Hero, won her critical attention (the New York Times described it as “an outstanding country music debut”) and the 26-year-old country singer belts out swinging tunes that get you swaying in your seats and stomping your cowboy boots. She also gets props for blending other pop genres in with country.
TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011

Nothing (Feb. 6)

Shoegazing Philly band Nothing brought its vivid guitar soundscapes and bleak, knowing lyrics to fans recently with a second album, Tired of Tomorrow. What’s it like? Think My Bloody Valentine crossed with Jesus and Mary Chain. Guitarist and vocalist Dominic Palermo’s hardcore punk — and prison background — are fading quickly into the Frankford-raised musician’s new sound: Pop mixed with beautiful noise.
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

Talib Kweli (Feb. 9)

This fall, Talib Kweli released his latest album, Awful People are Great at Parties. In it, the Brooklyn rap artist continues to balance and blend music and activism with impressive results. His masterful lyricism dates back to the 1990s when he and Mos Def formed the duo Black Star and organized the Hip Hop For Respect CD in response to police brutality. In 2014, Kweli helped launch a crowdfunding campaign called the Ferguson Defense Fund, and the following year President Obama included his “Memories Live” collaboration with DJ Hi-Tek on the presidential summer playlist. A few weeks ago, Kweli appeared on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, where he improvised to his 2002 classic hit, “Get By” about the violations of digital privacy.
TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011

Meek Mill (Feb. 10)

His beefs with Drake, the Game and 50 Cent have died down, but Meek Mill’s grudges made headlines again this fall in a battle with fellow Philly rapper Beanie Sigel. Marketing ploy or not, the news hits coincided with Mill’s latest offering, the Dreamchasers 4 mixtape, which features lots of guest talent including Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug and 21 Savage. Mill continues to be known for his shouty style — listen to “Ima Boss” featuring Rick Ross — which is really best suited to amped up live shows.
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., 215-336-3600

Rick Astley (Feb. 11)

The 50-year-old big-voiced baritone of monster ‘80s hits is back after a long absence with his self-produced album, 50. Millennials probably know Astley from “rickrolling” (for those lucky folks not in the know, that’s the viral internet meme that tricks users into clicking on a link to the vid of “Never Gonna Give You Up,”), but his original fans will be curious to see the deepening maturity of this charming, very British pop singer whose powerful voice suits his soulful sound.
Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., 215-627-1332

Red Hot Chili Peppers (Feb. 12)

Are the Red Hot Chili Peppers more than an aging, ironic legacy band for fans to revisit and remind themselves of fleeting youth? Or are they the ultimate alt-rock ’90s band that can still rock hard? You’ve got two nights to find out. Last summer’s album, The Getaway, got mixed reviews but will likely provide for a rowdy, funky, jam band kinda show. (If you’re into this kind of thing, take note: Two other elder statesmen of rock swinging through town are Sting, March 11 at the Fillmore and Steve Winwood, April 22 at Upper Darby’s Tower Theatre.)
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., 215-336-3600

The Radio Dept. (Feb. 14)

Beloved Swedish indie band The Radio Dept. brings its melodic, lo-fi sound and political music-making to a Valentine’s Day performance. New album Running Out of Love moves away from indie pop love songs into a more socially conscious space, with a variety of EDM, psychedelia and house musical colors. The band opens with a song whose title, “Sloboda Narodu,” is Serbo-Croatian for “Freedom to the People” — a call to action used during the Yugoslav Nazi resistance of World War II.
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

Tchami (Feb. 16)

French deep-house music producer Tchami, whose actual name is Martin Bresso, may be most widely known for his collab with DJ Snake in 2013’s “Turn Down For What.” The 31-year-old Parisian has only been producing for the last three years, but regularly headlines festival stages, and has already toured with Skrillex, Diplo and DJ Snake, plus produced tracks for Lady Gaga. He’s credited with pioneering a unique sound known as future house. Similar to his set at Coachella last spring, his Prophecy Tour shows — with fellow Frenchman and deejay, Mercer — feature Gothic cathedral-like stage design, with screens that look like stained-glass, a pulpit booth and a music-as-religion vibe.
Trocadero, 1003 Arch St., 215-922-6888

Tash Sultana (Feb. 18)

Just 21 years old, this self-taught diminutive singer/songwriter from Melbourne, Australia has already put in years of work busking and gigging and knows how to rip a guitar solo when she wants to (she’s copped to being a big-time Kiss fan). Sultana is a one-woman band, playing all the instruments and looping them into layers of her funky, indie sound, which is a cool blend of reggae and world music. In 2016, she won Aussie radio station Triple J’s Unearthed Artist of the Year.
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400

Tove Lo (Feb. 20)

Swedish synth-pop singer Tove Lo rose fast after the 2014 success of her Queen of the Clouds album. She performed on Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show and Conan, made an appearance to sing with Taylor Swift during her last tour and appeared on songs with Nick Jonas and Australian beatmeister Flume. This fall, she released her second album, Lady Wood. Though Lo’s tracks are sleek, carefully produced numbers, she likes to get messy with her confessional lyrics, which contain frank sex and drug talk and personal romantic stories.
Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., 215-627-1332

Japandroids (Feb. 25)

After the first night sold out, this indie garage punk-rock duo from Canada added a second show. Pretty funny for a band that almost casually called it quits in 2008. BFFs Brian King and David Prowse whip up fans into a sweaty brawl of appreciation, to the point where the audience sometimes drowns out the singers with overzealous support — especially when they play the 2012 critically acclaimed album, Celebration Rock. Spin named them 2012’s Band of the Year, and fans are psyched they’re back. Don’t be the one who steps out to get a beer when the pair does the song that made plenty of best-of 2016 lists: “Near to the Wild Heart of Life.”
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

Panic! at the Disco (Feb. 25)

Helmed by Brendon Urie, Panic has been beset with lineup changes from the start, but through it all, the Las Vegas-based band has managed to maintain its poppy, radio-friendly rock sound. For album No. 5, the Grammy-nominated Death of a Bachelor, band members cited influences that range from Frank Sinatra to the B-52s. Also on the evening’s bill are indie-rockers Saint Motel, a Los Angeles indie-pop band with a retro-lounge twist, and MisterWives.
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., 215-336-3600

Lisa Hannigan (Feb. 25)

Hannigan’s voice is intimate magic that’ll make you want to listen quietly and smile gently at the fragile and good things in this world. She’s an Irish singer/songwriter whose voice never dips into hokey Irish caricatures. Her latest album, At Sea, is awash in ambient, gentle, whispered vocals and instrumentation — that slide guitar! — that make it obvious Hannigan’s a performer who knows what she wants to say and the mood she wants to create.
Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 215-627-1332

Nikki Lane (Feb. 28)

This show will please those who like country music with a Johnny Cash/Merle Haggard/Wanda Jackson vibe. Nikki Lane blends that ‘60s country/Rockabilly sound with her modern twangy take on love and heartache, and backs it with a lush, guitar-heavy sound. The 33-year-old highschool dropout from South Carolina was a fashion designer in LA, then moved to NYC. There, she experienced a bad breakup with a country-singing boyfriend. She escaped to Nashville and opened a vintage thrift store where she met Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. He produced her second album, full of throwback music filled with great storytelling and no-fuss authenticity. Her newest, Highway Queen, drops Feb. 17.
Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., 215-627-1332

Ariana Grande (Mar. 1)

The former Nickelodeon star continues to churn out the pop hits. Off her latest album, “Dangerous Woman” and “Side to Side” have already made it into Billboard’s Top Ten — and helped people forget the odd donut-licking incident of 2015. Just 23 years old, Grande regularly lines up high-powered producers and works with A-list talent (you’ll hear Lil Wayne, Future and Nicki Minaj on her latest album). Her impressive singing chops don’t hurt either. The arena will be pumping to the infectious “Into You” dance hit.
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., 215-336-3600

Juicy J (Mar. 1)

While still with Three 6 Mafia, the Juiceman won an Oscar for the Hustle and Flow song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.” The 41-year-old rapper from Memphis has made a name for himself spitting bars about tales of sex, drugs, stacking bills and generally living the baller life — all set to dirty, fat beats and booming earworm club chants. Expect Juicy J to unload raunchy past bangers as well as some from his latest collaborative mixtape with Wiz Khalifa, TGOD Mafia: Rude Awakening.
The Fillmore, 29 East Allen St., 215-309-0150

Noname (Mar. 1)

Chicago poet and rapper Noname (aka Fatimah Warner) garnered attention when she appeared on Chance the Rapper’s mixtape in 2013, contributing a verse on his “Lost” (she also appeared on SNL’s season finale with him in December). But she’s been honing her craft for years, bringing writing skills and a sensitivity to words and rhythms that light up her songs. Her debut mixtape, Telefone, dropped last summer to critical raves, for poetic flows about life as a black woman in Chicago that create a chill easy vibe about topics that are anything but.
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400

The Knocks (Mar. 4)

The New York duo of Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson released their very anticipated LP, 55, last spring. It’s feel-good house disco that’s infectious and highly dance-able. Past collaborations like “Classic” featured Powers and Fetty Wap, and 55 includes tracks with Carly Rae Jepsen, Cam’ron and Glee star Alex Newell, who tears the roof off her vocals in “Collect My Love.”
The Foundry, The Fillmore, 29 East Allen St., 215-309-0150

The Flaming Lips (Mar. 4)

The Flaming Lips are getting stranger and stranger every day — and that’s a good thing. On tour with their fifteenth album, Oczy Mlody, (which dropped last week), the psychedelic alternative Grammy-winning rockers deliver groovy stage shows brimming with lush and trippy songs with frontman Wayne Coyne leading the weirdness. In 2015 they were in town backing Miley Cyrus on her Dead Petz tour, and their comfort with carefree expression made them a perfect match. Coyne, who’s been experimenting with sound and musical concepts since the band’s inception in 1983, does not fail to hold fans’ attention.
The Fillmore, 29 East Allen St., 215-309-0150

Thundercat (Mar. 4)

Grammy-winning Thundercat, aka Stephen Bruner, is a gifted and funky virtuoso on bass who’s in such high demand by other artists (see Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington, Erykah Badu, Bilal, Childish Gambino, Mac Miller, Suicidal Tendencies) tjat you wonder how he could have time for his own creative output. His latest was The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, a 16-minute mini-album that came out in 2015. Master of a fusion of jazz and soul, Bruner’s music has a retro ‘70s vibe threaded into a futuristic, dreamy tapestry of groovy experimentation.
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100

The Staves (Mar. 9)

The Staves perform haunting, harmonized indie-folk music that’s gotten slicker and sleeker as the band evolved. The trio of sisters from England (Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor) toured with Bon Iver in both 2012 and 2016. In the middle of that, Bon Iver’s lead singer, Justin Vernon, produced the Staves’ 2015 critically praised album If I Was, which is full of heartache, longing and sophisticated songwriting.
World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400

Deafheaven (Mar. 13)

It must stick in the craw of metal purists, but Deafheaven — the five-piece California metal-rock band with neatly trimmed hair and snappy all-black show outfits — keeps racking up critical praise and attention. The band is closer now to indie rock than its grim metal roots indicated, but it’s working. Spin magazine ranked last year’s album, New Bermuda, at No. 12 in its top 100 list. Their creative independence in the insular metal world is a little punk and a lot original. (Diehards needing a fix can check out the elder statesman of metal, Anthrax, on April 5 at Electric Factory).
TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011

Regina Spektor (Mar. 13)

It’s likely you’ve heard this Russian-born singer and not even realized it: Her song “You’ve Got Time” is the Grammy-nominated theme for Orange is the New Black. Spektor has also had songs in other films and TV shows, such as The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, In Bruges, (500) Days of Summer, Weeds, The Good Wife and How I Met Your Mother. Her alternative-music game is strong in a time when pop charts aren’t all that interested, but at age 36, she keeps doing her thing — thoughtfully written songs covered with stunning soprano pipes. Last fall she released her seventh album, Remember Us to Life.
The Fillmore, 29 East Allen St., 215-309-0150

Lionel Richie: All the hits with Mariah Carey (Mar. 18)

Is Lionel Richie concerned about being upstaged by Mariah Carey now that the unflappable diva’s botched New Year’s Eve performance got all that press (much more than if she’d performed flawlessly). Also, do they have enough time to get through “all the hits”? Carey has 25 top 10singles, including 18 that hit No. 1 — she’s tied with Elvis Presley and only behind The Beatles on Billboard’s charts. Richie has four No. 1 tracks (and 12 top 10 Billboard singles), plus more from his time fronting the Commodores. How do you pick that set list? Fingers crossed the sound engineers are on point.
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., 215-336-3600

Trentemøller (Mar. 24)

Denmark’s Anders Trentemøller knows how to cast a killer brooding techno mood. His hit “Moan” demonstrates his downtempo electronica skills, which create a weird combination of somber and sexy. On his album out last fall, Fixion, the lead single “River in Me” features the savagely hip Frenchwoman Jehnny Beth, of all-female band the Savages. It’s a direct shot to the heart of all things cool. Trentemøller has a post-punk severity that feels like an antidote to forgettable mass-pop.
TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011

Bon Jovi (Mar. 31)

Jon, we’ll be here for you always, even if it’s wild in the streets. You may give love a bad name and may be wanted dead or alive, but we’re all livin’ on a prayer. We know it’s not a bed of roses, and the show may feel like bad medicine at times, but you guys will go out in a blaze of glory (even without Richie Sambora, who left the group in 2013). So fans, don’t run from this classic rock performance from this classic Jersey dude. (After all, we gave him the 2014 Marian Anderson Humanitarian award.) Who knows, it’s possible some tracks on the new album, This House is Not For Sale, may end up as iconic as those from the past.
Wells Fargo Center, 3601 South Broad St., 215-336-3600

Back 2 the ‘80s Tour (Mar. 31)

This funky-fresh lineup of ‘80s stars is a concentrated dose of throwback hip-hop star power. Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Whodini, Doug E. Fresh, Al B. Sure, Chubb Rock, Hi Five, Force MDs, and Cherelle will all share the stage. So dig up your fuzzy Kangol hat, Cazals, 8-Ball jacket and Air Jordans with the phat laces and get that hi-top fade going. Dream set list: Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s “The Show” and “La Di Da Di,” Big Daddy Kane’s “Ain’t No Half Stepping,” Whodini’s “Freaks Come Out at Night,” Chubb Rock’s “Treat Em Right,” Al B. Sure’s “Night and Day.” Word.
Liacouras Center, 1776 N. Broad St., 215-204-2400

Chicano Batman (Apr. 1)

Soul, psychedelia, Latin rock and ‘70s-era Tropicália are the primary ingredients in the fizzy cocktail of sound known as Chicano Batman. Known for wearing ruffled tuxedo shirts and black bow ties, this Los Angeles band looks great and sounds even better. Frontman Bardo Martinez sounds like a contemporary Smokey Robinson cranking out Cumbia party fun. The band has toured with Jack White and performed at Coachella and SXSW. New LP Freedom is Fine drops in March.
The Foundry, The Fillmore, 29 East Allen St., 215-309-0150

Deadmau5 (Apr. 7)

Even if you don’t know Deadmau5 by name (it’s Joel Zimmerman), at some level you probably know the Grammy-nominated EDM superstar. It’s hard to avoid his image, the distinctive giant LED helmet that looks like a cross between Mickey Mouse and Felix the Cat. The wildly successful DJ is known for talking smack about anyone, but doesn’t seem to take himself all that seriously either — even though he regularly sells out stadiums with his massively theatrical shows. His tracks can be euphoric and trippy, but his musical appetites are wide-ranging, leading to collabs with Cypress Hill, Imogen Heap and rapper Shotty Horroh. He released his latest album, W:/2016ALBUM/, a few weeks ago.
BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, 856-365-1300

Oddisee (Apr. 18)

Philly is the first stop on the US leg of MC/producer Oddisee’s international hip-hop tour promoting his latest album, The Iceberg (out in February). The Sudanese-American, Brooklyn-based artists (real name Amir Mohamed el Khalifa) has Philly ties that go back to his appearance on Jazzy Jeff’s 2002 album, Magnificent, and Jazzy Jeff later mixed his 2006 solo debut. Oddisee lives in a funky creative space that could alternately be considered on the fringes of rap or in the fertile heart of untapped hip-hop. It’s a place where he’s free to tap into soul, chilled-out jazz, rap, DC Go-Go, funky retro rhythms and disco, and use all that to talk about politically charged topics.
TLA, 334 South St., 215-922-1011

Bonobo (Apr. 29)

Simon Green, the 40-year-old British producer and DJ who goes by Bonobo, takes care of his loyal fans, giving them top-shelf chilled out jazz- and soul-inflected house music. When on tour, the seasoned veteran — who’s amassed an impressive reserve of tunes from his previous five albums — brings a live orchestra to perform his emotive electronica. Some may recognize his work from songs in the film Burnt or episodes of Waterloo Road, Americans and House of Cards. His latest album, Migration, dropped last week.
Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., 215-627-1332