Backstage at The Electric Factory Credit: Chris Montgomery/Billy Penn

Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to introduce A.D. Amorosi’s new biweekly feature, which will aim to help fill the void in underground event coverage Philadelphia lost when the City Paper shut down.

Amorosi has been covering the scene for more than three decades, and every two weeks he’ll bring to the fore the boldest music, theater, comedy, exhibitions, literature, dance and performance art Philly has to offer.

What’s kicking in Philly this April? Over the upcoming two weeks we’ve got spicy cocktails (Art in the Age), space cadets (Sun Ra), multiple eccentric singer-songwriters (John Prine, Nellie McKay) and plenty more.

Chicory Root vodka release

Friday, April 13
Art in the Age, 116 N. 3rd St.

Old City’s Art in the Age tasting room has subtly become the city’s coolest destination for a relaxing hang and a fascinating cocktail, a triumph for the marketing masters at parent company Quaker City Mercantile. This new spicy vodka, made with the plant cowboys used to substitute for coffee, is the spot’s bittersweet-est taboo.

Punky Meadows

Saturday, April 14
The Trocadero, 1003 Arch St.

In the annals of glam rock history, there are few acts that were as cute — or as close to being totally forgotten — as Angel and its lead singer/guitarist Punky Meadows. The band dressed in signature whites and wings with Meadows as its preening, pouty front-man. He eschewed music for a minute after Angel broke up in the ‘80s, and went into business as a tanning salon owner, but in 2016 he returned with a solo album called Fallen Angel. He’s got another single out this year, “Lost and Lonely,” recorded with several of his old Angel mates. This show will either be glorious or pathetic — but definitely nothing in-between.

U.S. Girls

Saturday, April 14
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave.

Canadian-American singer-musician Meghan Remy — the woman who records as U.S. Girls – has been plying her trade in noise-pop for a decade. At this show, expect to hear songs from her new album, In a Poem Unlimited, which, though still plenty rough and ragged, is her most tender iteration yet of that moody sound.

John Prine and Kurt Vile

Saturday, April 14
Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad St.

There are so few of these craggy, ‘70s-era troubadours left. Seeing John Prine now is an essential lesson in character-driven lyricism and countrified, honky-tonk folk. For his first album in several years, The Tree of Forgiveness, he does his usual wordy emotional tour of love’s messiness, compounded by an extra dose of cragginess. Plus, Kurt Vile — Philadelphia’s own version of Neil Young — opens the show.

Guided by Voices

Tuesday, April 17
Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St.

Led by singer-songwriter Robert Pollard, the shifting members of Guided by Voices are basically the princes of lo-fi Ohio rock. So their shockingly hi-fi new album, Space Gun, is definitely out of wheelhouse. After 35 years, any shift in tone and fidelity is welcome, but this one is a true positive surprise.

Satellites Are Spinning — A Sizzling, Sonic Celebration of Sun Ra

Wednesday, April 18
Franklin Institute Planetarium, 222 N. 20th St.

Monumental musician Sun Ra, Germantown’s late space lion of the avant-garde, is given an apt tribute under the stars with Philly’s most currently adventurous jazz-bos and rappers — all under the direction of drummer Kevin Diehl.


Opens Wednesday, April 18; runs through Sunday, May 13
The Wilma Theater, 265 S. Broad St.

This show, Obie Award-winning playwright Christopher Chen’s darkly fantastic take on E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, promises to be an existentialist nightmare in the best sense of the term. Plus, this world premiere is an aptly challenging presentation for the Wilma’s HotHouse Company of players.

Modern Times: American Art 1910–1950

Opens Wednesday, April 18; runs through Monday, Sept. 3
Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2600 Ben Franklin Pkwy.

This exhibition focuses on the language of the “new American artist” before pop. It explores the angularity, the economy and the sense of industrialism of that defined the work of Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley, covers the rise of women artists (Florine Stettheimer, Dorothea Tanning) and examines the progress of African-American artists (Aaron Douglas, Horace Pippin) in smart, essay-like form.
Philadelphia Museum of Art

Nellie McKay

Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22
Dino’s Backstage, 287 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside

Somewhere between Gil Evans and Doris Day exists this sardonic, singing and piano-playing queen of the Delaware River Water Gap. Nellie’s new album, Sister Orchid!, promises to be a doozy. So does the weekend’s preview of her new one-woman-show based upon the early years of comedian Joan Rivers.

Built To Spill and Afghan Whigs

Saturday, April 21
Electric Factory, 421 M. 7th St.

The overbelly of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s underbelly of indie rock comes roaring back with this two-for-one tour. If that’s your thing, you’re guaranteed to love the show.


Sunday, April 22
Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., Glenside

Long feared lost or dead, Rodriguez — a Dylan-esque Michigan singer-songwriter of Mexican heritage with several albums under his wide belt in the post-psychedelic 70s — was rediscovered and accounted for by South African fans and the documentary filmmakers behind 2012’s Searching for Sugar Man. And now we can’t get rid of him.

Che album release party

Sunday, April 22
Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave.

A Native American multi-instrumentalist who lives between Philadelphia and the Bay Area, Che sculpts sound with a provocative mix. He wields ambient electronics, unique samples and handmade woodsy instruments to create weird, deep rhythms with lush and luscious melodies as their guide. Thanks to his new album, Shuco, fans of modern inventive musique concrete will be talking about this artist for a long time.