By Nick Stropko
Over the past few months, I’ve been watching an amazing slew local shows being announced for the fall with frustration. You see, dear reader, while Philadelphia is about to have one of the best concert seasons in recent memory, I will be in Istanbul, enjoying the requisite college rite of passage that is study abroad (please, shower me with pity). Despite my infuriating inability to attend any of the following concerts, I have compiled a personal list of must-see shows for this fall.
Kishi Bashi @ First Unitarian Church Sanctuary, September 14 ($15)
Truthfully, I haven’t really given a good listen to Kishi Bashi’s only album, 151a. However, I did have the opportunity to catch him at the Church Basement as part of a WKDU Presents event, and it was stellar. Kishi Bashi creates little string ensembles with a lone violin and a loop pedal, which are combined with soaring vocals and occasional beatboxed vocals (it’s way less obnoxious than it sounds, I promise) to great effect. Throw in some whimsical stage decorations and a charmingly intimate venue, and I expect this to be a great experience.
Vampire Weekend @ The Mann Skyline Stage, September 19 ($35)
Okay, confession: I’m a huge V-Dubs fanboy. Huge. I’ve seen them five or six times, and Modern Vampires of the City is my album of the year right now. This being said, they’re a very tight, consistent band, and I’m very curious to see how much of their new material translates live. There’s really no gimmick here—just excellent songcraft and musicianship (and a steadily increasing touring budget, I suppose).
The Flaming Lips & Tame Impala @ Festival Pier, October 3 ($50–eesh)
A fortuitous pairing, to say the least. I’ve never really associated the psych stalwarts with the fresh faced up-and-comers, but I think the two bands will complement each other quite nicely. While the legendary nature of the Lips’ shows is already well-documented (they do seem to be adding some strange, disturbing elements to go with their dark new album, The Terror), Tame Impala proved to be a pretty excellent live band at their recent Electric Factory gig. I’m already a huge fan of both bands’ material, but I can guarantee that this will be a very entertaining show.
Making Time w/ Fuck Buttons @ Voyeur Nightclub, October 19 ($10)
The new Fuck Buttons album, Slow Focus, is a slice of dark, menacing, bass-heavy goodness. I really want to hear this thing pouring out of some overpowered subwoofers. Paired with Voyeur (possibly the most worthwhile nightclub in Philadelphia) and the fine folks at Making Time, I expect this to be a very, very good time. Be prepared to move.
Animal Collective w/ Dan Deacon @ Union Transfer, October 28 (Sold Out 🙁 )
This one’s already sold out, but it feels worth mentioning. Deacon’s manic energy, channeled through performing in the middle of the crowd, is not something to miss. I guarantee that you will dance, and you will love it. Animal Collective is notoriously spotty in their live performances, often receiving the complaint that their concerts are more about writing new songs live than performing old ones. That being said, apparently they’ve been playing more older stuff lately (they absolutely killed Peacebone when I saw them at the Mann a few months back), and I think the energy is going to be incredible. A second date has been announced sans Dan Deacon, which should also be cool, but if you can somehow manage to get into this show…do it.
Man Man @ Union Transfer, October 30-31 ($20)
Oh my god. Go to this. Go to this. I can only imagine what kind of hijinks Man Man have planned for back-to-back hometown Halloween shows. The band has put on some of the most entertaining live performances I have ever seen, and I fully expect this to surpass any previous shows of theirs. This one will be special.
Basia Bulat @ The Boot & Saddle, November 20 ($10)
I first encountered Basia as an opening act for Beirut at the Electric Factory last year. She’s an incredibly charming and talented folk artist who plays a variety of instruments, including a weird autoharp thing. It’s cool. Anyway, if you’re looking for an excuse to check out R5’s newest venue, this would definitely be it—warm music to provide respite from November’s cold.
All this being said, I’m just thankful that I’ll be here for Neutral Milk Hotel.