The best 2021 fall concerts in Philadelphia
Billie Eilish to H.E.R. to Philly Music Fest, and more
Fall is when live music moves indoors, and that will be true again this year, even as the pandemic persists and venues enact COVID-19 protocols to try to ensure safety.
It’s still festival season, with the XPoNential Music Festival this weekend in Camden and star-studded Firefly in Delaware Sept. 23-26. But as amphitheater and open-air schedules wind down, the action is moving into clubs, theaters, and arenas.
Besides the shows highlighted below, others of note include J. Cole at the Wells Fargo Center and Wesley Stace at City Winery, both on Sept. 29, Enrique Iglesias and Ricky Martin at the Wells Fargo Center and St. Vincent at the Met Philly, both on Oct. 13, and Philly-area native Ray Benson’s Asleep at the Wheel at the Keswick Theatre on Oct. 21.
Sold-out shows that will send fans scurrying to secondary market sources include Leon Bridges on Sept. 27 and Philly songwriter Lucy Dacus on Oct. 20 and 21 (both at Union Transfer) and Philly band Dr. Dog, who have sold out five dates at three venues leading up to New Year’s Eve.
A note on comedy: John Mulaney is playing not one, but 14 shows at the Academy of Music in a run that begins on Oct. 1. All but one are sold out. And Jamie Foxx is at the Met Philadelphia on Oct. 15.
Most of the highlighted shows require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test, but concertgoers should check with each venue beforehand.
Avett Brothers / Dave Hause
The North Carolina folk-rock band led by Scott and Seth Avett will be joined by Roxborough’s own Dave Hause, who releases his country-flavored album Blood Harmony on Oct. 22. (Sept. 21, $39-$84, Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave.,215-546-7400, manncenter.org) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Yo La Tengo
The Hoboken indie trio are touring behind Sleepless Night, an EP produced in collaboration with Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara, and We Have Amnesia Sometimes, a set of improvised instrumentals. (Sept. 21, $25, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, utphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan never got to tour behind her fine 2020 solo album, Likewise, so ideally she’ll sample it at the Anchor, which is bringing indie rock to the Jersey Shore. (Sept. 22, $20, Anchor Rock Club, 247 S. New York Ave., Atlantic City, 609-808-4990, anchorrockclub.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Philadelphia songwriter Tiffany Majette’s soothing album Hold Space for Me came out in March 2020. She finally gets to perform it live, at this show and the next day at Firefly. (Sept. 22, $16-$18, The Foundry at the Fillmore, 29 E. Allen St., 215-309-0150, thefillmorephilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Firefly Music Festival
The Dover, Del., gathering is back with big names: Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers play Thursday, and the Killers (who also are at Franklin Music Hall Sept. 22), Tame Impala and Lizzo are on the next three nights. (Sept. 23-26, $119-$259, The Woodlands, 1131 N. DuPont Hwy, Dover, DE, 800-441-7723, fireflyfestival.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
New Orleans culture is about letting the good times roll when faced with trouble and strife, and Big Freedia embodies that spirit. The Queen of Bounce will be starting a party on South Street. (Sept. 28, $26-$28, TLA, 333 South St., 215-922-1011, tlaphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The country soul singer brings his All-American Road Show to Camden. Marcus King Band and Caylee Hammack open. (Oct. 1, $39-$99, BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd, Camden, 856-365-1300, livenation.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Philly Music Fest
The all-local PMF is back in person this year, with multiact shows at World Cafe Live, Johnny Brenda’s, MilkBoy Philly, REC Philly, and Ardmore Music Hall. Nineteen bands are playing, including an opening night WCL show that includes Alex G, Spirit of the Beehive, and three bands featuring Moor Mother and a Hop Along date at JB’s. (Oct. 6-10, $25-$39, five venues, phillymusicfest.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Eric Church might have overreached when he released two albums — Heart and Soul — earlier this year. But self-confidence serves Church well on stage, where his marathons deliver a swift kick often lacking in mainstream country. (Oct. 9, $25-$165, Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., 215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
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On the Individualist tour, the Upper Darby native — and soon-to-be Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee — will play Side 1 of his 1973 album A Wizard, a True Star the first night, and Side 2 on the second. (Plus: hits.) (Oct. 11-12, $55-$75, The Fillmore, 29 E. Allen St., 215-309-0150, thefillmorephilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Willow Smith’s mother, Jada Pinkett Smith, once played in a nu-metal band, and now the “Whip My Hair” singer has ditched R&B for rock on her new lately I feel EVERYTHING. (Oct. 12, $67-$205, TLA, 332 South St., 215-922-1011, tlaphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The Penn grad who was one of the first acts to play at the Met when it opened in 2018 returns with his Bigger Love tour. (Oct. 13, $64-$204, The Met Philadelphia, 858 N. Broad St., 800-653-8000, metphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Strand of Oaks
Philadelphia’s loss was Austin’s gain when Tim Showalter, who records as Strand of Oaks, migrated to Texas. The prodigal son returns in support of his album, In Heaven, due Oct. 1. (Oct. 13, $22, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, utphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Low Cut Connie
Adam Weiner of Low Cut Connie built a global audience with his Tough Cookies blowouts from his South Philly home. Now he’s touring with a revamped band in support of the superb Private Lives. (Oct. 14, $30-$32.50, The Fillmore, 29 E. Allen St., 215-309-0150, thefillmorephilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Katie Crutchfield lived in Philly for several years over the last decade, but grew up in Alabama. She fully connected with her Southern roots last year on Saint Cloud, her finest album. The second show is sold out. (Oct. 15 and 19, $22, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, utphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
With his 2015 triple LP The Epic, saxophonist Kamasi Washington became the rare jazz musician to break through to a rock audience. He opened for Herbie Hancock at the Met in 2019 and returns as a headliner. (Oct 20, $39-$105, The Met Philadelphia, 858 N. Broad St., 800-653-8000, metphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Los Amigos Invisibles
The funk band is touring to celebrate last year’s 25th anniversary of their terrific 1995 debut A Typical And Autoctonal Venezuela Dance Band. (Oct. 23, $18-$49, Ardmore Music Hall, 23 E. Lancaster Ave., 610-649-8389, ardmoremusichall.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer Gabriella Wilson is playing the Met on a busy weekend — Elvis Costello is at the venue the following night. She’s touring behind her new Back Of My Mind. (Oct. 23, $59-$139, The Met Philadelphia, 858 N. Broad St., 800-653-8000, metphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Tonstartssbandht / Dougie Poole
Cool indie bill with Orlando, Fla. band of brothers Tonstartssbandht and cosmic cowboy Dougie Poole. (Oct. 26, $15, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919, kungfunecktie.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Mavis Staples slayed in Questlove’s Summer of Soul. Fifty-two years after that performance, she’s still a vital, creative force, most recently in evidence on We Get By, her 2019 album with Ben Harper. (Oct. 26-27, $95-$125, City Winery, 990 Filbert St., 215-479-7373, citywinery.com/philadelphia) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The Runaways cofounder is a true believer who still delivers her “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” anthem without a smidgen of irony. (Oct. 29, $59-99, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, 1000 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 609-449-1000, hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The Philadelphia punk trio fronted by Marisa Dabice wrote the songs played by the band in Mare of Easttown. They’ll sing them when headlining the club where they opened for Japanese Breakfast this summer. (Oct. 29, $18, Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., 215-232-2100, utphilly.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
On last year’s Quickies, Stephin Merritt sang songs ranging in length from 17 seconds to 2 minutes and 35 seconds. Those won’t take long, so he’ll pull from his 69 Love Songs opus, too. (Nov. 2-4, $55-$90, 990 Filbert St., 267-479-7373, citywinery.com/philadelphia) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The dynamic Chicago blues guitarist is still a thrilling performer at age 85. (Nov. 4, $25-$65, Parx Casino, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem, 888-588-7279, parxcasino.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The great Tuareg desert-blues ensemble are masters of trance-inducing guitar music. Last time though Philly, Kurt Vile sat in. (Nov. 6, $25, Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill, 215-627-1332, undergroundarts.org) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The genre-splicing Cameroonian-American songwriter Laetitia Tamko plays the Fishtown gastropub. (Nov. 18, $20, Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684, johnnybrendas.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
Thelonious Monk-enthusiast Terry Adams is the only original member, but the Q remain a fabulous live band. Sun Ra Arkestra members often sit in at Philly-area gigs. (Nov. 20, $35-$50, Living Room at 35 East, 35 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore, 610-331-5459, livingroomat35east.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
GZA, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah
Wu-Tang Clan members who have made great solo albums, from the GZA’s Liquid Swords, Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Ghostface’s Supreme Clientele. (Nov. 21, $49.50, Franklin Music Hall, 7th and Willow St., 215-727-1332, bowerypresents.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
The powerhouse vocalist whose signature is “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” brings her holiday show to Glenside. (Dec. 17, $39-$69, Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave. Glenside, 215-572-7650, keswicktheatre.com) 🎟️ Buy tickets
» READ MORE: Find more in our complete fall arts guide