As winter moves into spring, it’s club and theater season in the concert business, with bands and singer-songwriters and rappers getting comfortable in intimate spaces.
Some big shows are, indeed, headed this way. Rappers Post Malone and Swae Lee will play the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 21, followed at the South Philadelphia arena by pop-country duo Dan + Shay on March 12 and One Direction teen idol Niall Horan on May 2.
But mostly, the settings are cozier.
Since City Winery opened last fall, its schedule has picked up. The Fashion District venue will have Southside Johnny on Feb. 13 and 14; Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie on Feb. 16; Hayes Carll and Allison Moorer on Feb. 26; blues phenom Christone “Kingfish” Ingram for two shows on Feb. 29; and Spider Stacy, Cait O’Riordan, and the Lost Bayou Ramblers playing songs of the Pogues on March 6.
Vagabon and Angelica Garcia will be at Johnny Brenda’s on March 21. Thundercat plays the Fillmore March 22. Gladie — the new Philly band featuring Augusta Koch of Cayetana — is at Boot & Saddle April 10. Coming up at Union Transfer on March 12 will be the Districts; Stephen Malkmus on April 11, and Waxahatchee on April 14.
The lineup at World Cafe Live will include the Dirty Knobs with Tom Petty guitarist Mike Campbell on March 18; Hamilton alum Leslie Odom Jr. on March 31; and U.S. Girls on May 8. Two shows at the Met this past November apparently weren’t enough for Sting: He’ll be back for two more on May 1 and 2. And King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are headed for Franklin Music Hall on May 2.
Among the many other noteworthies:
Michael Kiwanuka (Feb. 10, Union Transfer). British soul man Kiwanuka grew his fan base when “Cold Little Heart” was used on the HBO series Big Little Lies. The songwriter, who recalls such vocalists as Bill Withers and Van Morrison, made the most of his higher profile by delivering Kiwanuka, his third and best album. (215-232-2100, utphilly.com)
Raphael Saadiq (Feb. 12, Fillmore Philadelphia). Going back to his days with R&B-soul group Tony! Toni! Toné! in the 1990s, Saadiq has been a master showman. His new album Jimmy Lee, named after his late brother, makes his music personal like never before. (215-309-0150, thefillmorephilly.com)
Marquis Hill’s Love Tape (Feb. 15, Ruba Club). Chicago trumpeter Hill has your romantic needs covered. His Love Tape project makes a point of listening to women’s stories, while moving musically between jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. (215-627-9831, arsnovaworksop.org)
Cam’ron (Feb. 18, Theatre of Living Arts). Harlem rapper Cam’ron defied expectations with his new Purple Haze 2. It comes 15 years after the original reggae-and-soul sampling platter that featured a young Kanye West. He’s back on his game with the sequel. (215-922-1011, tlaphilly.com)
Angelique Kidjo (Feb. 20, Annenberg Center). Beninese singer Kidjo’s music mixes Afrobeat with influences from around the world. She’s collaborated with Philip Glass, paid tribute to Cuban vocalist Celia Cruz, and released an album-length cover of the Talking Heads’ 1980 Remain In Light. (215-898-3800, annenbergcenter.org)
Digable Planets (Feb. 23, Ardmore Music Hall). In the early 1990s, Digable Planets excelled at the intersection between hip-hop and jazz. The trio of Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Mariana “Ladybug” Vieira, and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving (a Philadelphian) won a Grammy and released two albums before breaking up in 1995. (610-649-8389, ardmoremusic.com)
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives (Feb. 28, Ardmore Music Hall). Country singer and bandleader Stuart has been on the road since joining bluegrass great Lester Flatt’s band at 14. The man with the best band (and best hair) in Nashville is marking the 21st anniversary of his 1999 album The Pilgrim. (610-649-8389, ardmoremusic.com)
Drive-By Truckers (Feb. 27, Union Transfer). The longtime Southern rock outfit fronted by songwriters Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley raise their voices in protest on The Unraveling, their new follow-up to 2016’s American Band. (215-232-2100, utphilly.com)
Billie Eilish (March 13, Wells Fargo Center). The teen goth pop star has moved quickly up the Philly-venue food chain in the last year and a half. She packed Union Transfer before her debut album, the Grammy-sweeping When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? even came out, sold out the Met last June, and is now big enough to headline arenas. (215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com)
Sturgill Simpson (March 14, the Met Philadelphia). Simpson is supposed to be a country singer — that’s what he won a Grammy for in 2017, with A Sailor’s Guide To Earth. But for Sound & Fury, the Kentucky singer-guitarist made a “sleazy, steamy, rock n’ roll record,” recorded in a Michigan motor inn, visually accompanied by a Japanese anime film. (800-653-8000, themetphilly,com)
Jazzmeia Horn (March 14, Perelman Theater). Horn is an aptronym — that is, a person whose name is appropriate to their occupation. She’s also a gifted scat singer who won the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal competition and who’s earned comparisons to Betty Carter. She stepped further into her own on last year’s Love & Liberation. (215-790-5800, kimmelcenter.org)
Mandy Moore (March 21, Borgata Music Box). Long before she starred on the TV series This Is Us, Moore was a teen pop star. Her music career has been on hold, in part, she said last year, because of what she’s called the “psychologically abusive” actions by her ex-husband, Ryan Adams. Now she’s back, with a Southern California folk-rock sound on Silver Landings, due March 6. (609-317-1000, theborgata.com)
Caroline Rose (March 27, Underground Arts). After starting her career as an earnest country-folk troubadour, Rose ingeniously made herself over into an ironic-but-not-ironic, upbeat party starter on 2018’s Loner. She’s back for more with her new Superstar (out March 6), with a Prince-like first single, “Feel The Way I Want,” that satirizes and celebrates selfie-generation narcissism. (267-206-6215, undergroundarts.org)
Tony Bennett (March 29, Parx Casino). Bennett stands alone as the elder statesman custodian of the Great American Songbook. The 93-year-old saloon singer remains a marvel, effortlessly swinging and still able to pull off the parlor trick of putting down the microphone and filling up a concert hall with his voice. (888-588-7279, parxcasino.com)
Soccer Mommy (March 31, Union Transfer). Sophie Allison made a name for herself as Soccer Mommy with 2018‘s Clean — recorded when she was an undergraduate at New York University — that merged young Liz Phair and early Taylor Swift. Now back home in Nashville, Allison is returning with the still more ambitious Color Theory, due Feb. 28. (215-232-2100, utphilly.com)
Sinead O’Connor (April 4-5, City Winery Philadelphia). The biggest get yet for the new Fashion District venue is O’Connor, the Irish firebrand who rose to superstardom in the 1990s. Since then, she’s been better known for controversies than music, but her most recent albums, including 2014’s I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss, find her back in form. (267-479-7373, citywinery.com/philadelphia)
Japanese Breakfast (April 11, Anchor Rock Club). It’s an excellent sign for Atlantic City’s new Anchor Rock Club to land a choice booking like Michelle Zauner, the Philadelphia songwriter who records as Japanese Breakfast. About three years have passed since Zauner’s last album, but she’s been busy working on a memoir, Crying In H Mart, to be published by Knopf. (609-350-7140, anchorRockclub.com)
Charles Lloyd & the Marvels with Lucinda Williams (April 21, Keswick Theatre). Jazz saxophone player (and flautist) Lloyd has always been a musical adventurer. Last year, he and his band, the Marvels, including pedal steel great Greg Leisz, teamed with country-soul songwriter Williams on Vanished Gardens, which draws out the mystery in both artists’ music. (215-572-7650, bowerypresents.com)
Bikini Kill (May 13, Franklin Music Hall). Pioneering riot-grrrl band Bikini Kill is justifiably legendary. Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, and Kathi Wilcox were feminist punk-rock progenitors who paved the way for bands like Sleater-Kinney in their seven years of existence before breaking up in 1997. The band plays Philadelphia for the first time this century. (215-627-1332, bowerypresents.com)