Summertime means it’s festival and stadium and shed season in the concert business, with most of the big shows enumerated here taking place in the great outdoors. That could mean a farm in Montgomery County — where the Philadelphia Folk Festival is held every year — or the streets of Philadelphia on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, where Jennifer Hudson and Meghan Trainor will sing on July 4 and the Made in America festival will happen one again Labor Day weekend.
But be on the lookout for smaller, free concert series, as well, such as the Waterfront Sessions at Spruce Street Harbor Park, where Armani White will rhyme June 13, or the Bryn Mawr Twilight Series, where Susan Werner will sing June 22, or the Gorgas Park concerts in Roxborough, where Ben Arnold will play Aug. 31.
Besides the concerts highlighted, some big-name albums are also due this summer. Both Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars and Madonna’s Madame X will come out June 14. The Raconteurs’ Help Us Stranger is due June 21 and Black Keys’ Let’s Rock on June 28. With the element of surprise an important element in social media marketing, new albums by Taylor Swift, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West or Sleater-Kinney (who come to the Fillmore this fall) could be announced at any time
Sun Ra Arkestra / Sonic Liberation (June 13, Union Transfer) Marshall Allen, the sax-blowing bandleader of the out-of-this-world Sun Ra Arkestra, turned 95 in May. This birthday celebration of the ageless wonder also features Sonic Liberation, the re-formed jazz and funk soulsonic force time-traveling from Germantown in the 1970s. (215-232-2100, utphilly.com)
Billie Eilish (June 15, the Met Philadelphia) Billie Eilish is the precocious 17-year-old goth sensation who makes music that fills the angst void in the glossy and romantic world of teen-pop. Thanks to savvy social media marketing — she has 25 million Instagram followers — the baggy clothes-wearing fashionista was a big star long before her chart topping debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? came out this spring. (800-653-8000, themetphilly.com)
Father John Misty / Jason Isbell (June 22, the Met Philly) A double bill of two smarter-than-your-average-white-guys-with-guitars. The former is a beardo who frequently wraps his musical disquisitions in irony, but deep down is an earnest singer-songwriter thirsty to be heard. The latter is a leading Americana force on the front lines of the new Nashville renaissance, who’s an underrated guitarist and singer in addition to his abundant storytelling skills. Jade Bird is also on the bill. (800-653-8000, themetphilly.com)
Norah Jones (June 22, the Queen). Norah Jones followed up her 2016 album Day Breaks by issuing a series of singles that allowed the sultry, sometimes-soporific singer to go off in varied creative directions, dabbling in electronic music along with more familiar acoustic balladry and jazz soul excursions. She’s collected the results in a seven-song set called Begin Again. (thequeenwilmington, 202-730-3331.)
Firefly Festival (June 21-23, the Woodlands in Dover, Del.) The headliners at Firefly have ceased to be eye-catching in recent years, but the summer solstice weekend camping fest in the First State is a world-class event in terms of amenities. There’s lots of talent on hand, including Tyler the Creator, Courtney Barnett, TLC, Travis Scott, Tank and the Bangas, Vampire Weekend, Carseat Headrest and Hop Along. (fireflyfestival.com, 855-282-4898).
The Minus 5 (June 26, Johnny Brenda’s). In November 2017, Scott McCaughey suffered a stroke and found himself in grave danger of never being able to play music again. But the leader of the Minus 5 and Young Fresh Fellows who was also a longtime auxiliary member of R.E.M and is much-loved as one of the nicest guys in indie rock, has made a full recovery and lived to write about it on Stroke Manor, the new Minus 5 album featuring Jeff Tweedy, Peter Buck and Corin Tucker. (johnnybrendas.com, 215-739-9684).
Vans Warped Tour (June 29-30, Atlantic City beach). It’s not really a tour anymore. Last summer, the punk rock summer camp known as the Vans Warped Tour made its final full-scale trek around North America. This year, though, the skateboarding and emo and pop punk fest is coming back for only three stops, in Los Angeles, Cleveland (at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and on the A.C. beach. More than 50 bands will play, including, Blink 182, Bad Religion, Circa Survive, and the Skatalites. (800-653-8000, vanswarpedtour.com).
Robyn (July 17, Mann Center). Thinking woman’s Swedish dance-pop star Robyn — last name: Carlsson — took eight years between 2010’s Body Talk and last year’s Honey, during which time the “Dancing on My Own” singer’s devoted following only grew larger. She’s playing Philly on one of a handful of dates in a mini-U.S. tour. (215-546-5900, manncenter.org.)
The Rolling Stones (July 23, Lincoln Financial Field) Funny how a reminder of impending mortality can turn something as grandiose as a Rolling Stones stadium tour into an emotionally meaningful event. The once greatest rock-and-roll band in the world has been around so long that the members’ aged presence is taken for granted. The No Filter tour ceased being ho-hum when dates were postponed this spring due to a Mick Jagger heart condition. But the procedure was an apparent success, and the 75-year-old singer is quickly getting back in action. Gimme Mick! (267-570-4000, lincolnfinancialfield.com).
Xponential Music Festival (July 26-28, Wiggins Park and BB&T Pavilion). This year’s version of the annual fest thrown by WXPN-FM (88.5) covers three days outside at Wiggins Park and two under the roof at the adjacent BB&T, with the big-room headliners being Irish singer-singer Hozier, with Philly’s Japanese Breakfast and Killiam Shakespeare on Friday, and a New Wave-era double bill on Saturday with Elvis Costello & the Imposters and Blondie. The Wiggins undercard is strongest on Saturday, with Low Cut Connie, Ali Awan, Caroline Rose, Y La Bamba and J.S. Ondara, among others. (856-365-1300, xpnfest.org.)
Heart / Joan Jett (Aug. 2, BB&T Pavilion) A double bill of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. The Wilson sisters of Heart, featuring guitar player Nancy and Robert Plant-influenced singer Ann. (The Led Zep man himself is playing the Mann on Sept. 17). The real treat however, is the great, never disappointing Joan Jett broke through to the mainstream with “I Love Rock 'n’ Roll” and “Crimson and Clover” before having a third life as a riot grrrl and feminist icon. Elle King is also on the bill. (856-365-1300, livenation.com.)
Queen with Adam Lambert (Aug. 3, Wells Fargo Center) This combo of old English rock dudes and young operatic American Idol singer was already a hot commodity before the Bohemian Rhapsody movie lionized Freddie Mercury and turned him into a bigger box office phenomenon than anticipated. Now this is the biggest-selling tour of the summer, after the Stones. (215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com)
Anthony Hamilton / Ledisi / Gregory Porter (Aug. 8, Dell Music Center) A standout show in a uniformly solid old school R&B and soul season at the Dell in Strawberry Mansion, which opens with an O’Jays-starring Philly Soul night on July 11 and runs through Aug. 29 with Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill. You’d be hard-pressed to find three vocalists as skilled as gospel-trained shouter Hamilton, retro soul singer Ledisi. and sophisticated jazzman Porter on the same stage anywhere this summer. (215-685-9560, dellmusiccenter.com)
Philadelphia Folk Festival (Aug. 15-18, Old Pool Farm) The 58th annual Philly Folk Fest goes old school with David Crosby & Friends as the headline attraction, but there’s younger talent sprinkled throughout the weekend long lineup, with such acts as Nashville songwriting stars Margo Price and Amanda Shires, black British country singer Yola, Bucks County’s own Langhorne Slim, and African America folklorist Dom Flemons. Also on the bill: the Mavericks, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and Joan Osborne, singing Bob Dylan songs. (215-247-1300, pfs.org)
Jonas Brothers (Aug. 18, Wells Fargo Center) This is likely to be the loudest concert of the summer. Not from the sound coming from the stage, but from the screams emanating from the audience. JoBros Kevin, Joe and Nick went their separate ways in 2013, but the now-grown-up former Disney stars have reunited, and appear to have timed their comeback right, with “Suckers,” the first single from their new album Happiness Begins, topping the charts in March. (215-336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com)
Tame Impala (Aug. 23, Mann Center) Australian psych-rock band Tame Impala — which is essentially the group name used by one musical mastermind, Kevin Parker — has steadily grown in popularity since the release of Innerspeaker in 2010. (It didn’t hurt that Rihanna covered the song “Same Ol’ Mistakes” on her 2016 album, Anti.) The band has promised a new album in 2019, but released only two new singles in time for its headlining shows at the Coachella Festival this spring. (215-546-7900, manncenter.org)
Flying Lotus (Aug. 29, Franklin Music Hall) The experimental music producer born Steven Wilson, who has worked with Kendrick Lamar, finally followed up 2014’s You’re Dead! with this year’s Flamagra, which features George Clinton and Philadelphia rapper Tierra Whack, and Solange, among others. Get ready to wear silly glasses, because the show is billed as being “in 3D.” (215-627-1332, bowerypresents.com.)
Made in America (Aug. 31-Sept. 1) This year’s eighth annual iteration of Made in America has hip-hop headliners in Travis Scott and Cardi B, and Jay-Z’s party on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway has beefed up its lineup with the late additions of Lizzo, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane and, in one inspired bit of off-brand booking, indie pop band Charly Bliss. Anderson .Paak, Blueface, Jorja Smith, Tierra Whack, and Rosalia are also playing. (800-653-8000, madeinmaericafest.com)
Vampire Weekend (Mann Center, Sept. 4). Vampire Weekend was initially a blog band of the mid-00s, an indie outfit of Ivy Leaguers who took Paul Simon’s Graceland as a template in making unabashedly collegiate perky pop songs that drew from a world of musical influences. A decade-plus later, key player Rostam Batmanglij has gone solo, though he does turn up on a few songs on the new Father of the Bride, but leader Ezra Koenig remains at the top of his game in delivering a record good enough to make you care again about a band you thought you moved on from. Blues prodigy Chrsitopher “Kingfish” Ingram opens. (215-546-5900, manncenter.org.)
Future Islands / Strand of Oaks / Karl Blau (Sept. 5, Dell Music Center) After taking a year off, former Philadelphia Eagle Connor Barwin’s benefit concert for his playground- and rec center-building Make the World Better Foundation is on again. The 2019 lineup at the Dell Music Center is headlined by Baltimore synth-pop band Future Islands and features Philly songwriter-guitarist Tim Showalter’s Strand of Oaks, plus Pacific Northwest indie songwriter Karl Blau. One more band will be announced later this month. (215-685-9560, dellmusiccenter.com)