This holiday season, indulge live performances from four of our fave local bands.
Thursday, December 19: Birdie Busch
This winter, warm yourself from the outside in, with the warm, folk stylings of West Philly songstress Birdie Busch. For nearly a decade now, Busch has charmed crowds with her quirky, personal pop and honeyed vocals, winning praises from everyone from Village Voice to Vh1. Yet through it all, she's remained remarkably humble, refusing to let it affect her mindset, or her process, and continuing to craft gorgeous, delicate melodies completely devoid of pretension. A Jersey native who moved to the city post-college and worked a string of terrible jobs before finally stumbling on a set-up that lets her work and play, we view Busch as the sensitive, beating heart of the local folk scene, whose constant creativity is a source of inspiration. She'll perform this Thursday with her band, playing songs from new LP Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night, a stunning collection of tunes inspired by an evening in Bisbee, Arizona, and the idea of overcoming hardship in order to achieve something great.
Saturday, December 21: Low Cut Connie
Philly rock fivesome Low Cut Connie craft brash, booze-soaked, bar-band rockers, hearkening back to a time when bands balled out with abandon, instead of standing still, nodding their heads with studied nonchalance. The brainchild of Adam Weiner, a disillusioned pianist in an NYC karaoke bar who one day decided he was fed up and never coming back—Low Cut Connie is fueled by good times, girls, and moving far, far away from their karaoke roots. Their sophomore record, Call Me Sylvia, is a raging, gritty, high-energy rocker that incorporates bits of classic rock, rockability, British invasion, and more, for a result impossible to listen to without dancing along. Live, the fivesome prove equally inspiring, between Weiner's impassioned Jerry Lee Lewis keyboard banging, and singer/guitarist Dan Finnemore's catchy melodies. Before you go: stream Call Me Sylvia for free via Bandcamp, then get ready to flail along.
9:30 at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $12. Tickets available here.
Saturday, December 28: Grandchildren
Philly pop stalwarts Grandchildren began as the solo project of West Philly's Alex Martray, looping guitar tracks in his bedroom, but soon expanded to a six-piece pop-orchestra, complete with lush vocals and sprawling guitar and bass. Their sophomore record, Golden Age, was released earlier this year, and was inspired by the passing of time and "those moments where you feel a narrowing of the openness and possibility of life" and having that "experience renewed." The result is a record of grand, cinematic splendor, from the breezy, horn-laced "Sunrise" to the epic, foreboding "End Times." We recommend arriving early for Doylestown "sex pop" act Night Panther, whose 2013 self-titled record contained one of my very favorite singles of the year in "Fever"—plus new kids on the block Purples (formed from the ashes of Philly psych-rockers The Teeth), whose first single "Standard Human" is a rollicking rock n'roll treat.
Sunday, December 29: Man Man
Close out your holiday weekend with Philly goofballs Man Man, whose zany live show and sing-along choruses make them one of our very faves year-round. It's been 10 years since the band first formed, and since then, we've been privy to many a facepaint-covered carnival, and will undoubtedly keep coming back for more. The strange, creative vision of Philly native Ryan Kattner—who goes by the stage name Honus Honus—Man Man's evolved, over the years, from a band of gypsy punks composing spaghetti-Western-tinged oompah beats—to the nuanced musicians behind 2013's "Head On (Hold On to Your Heart)," a surprisingly sweet + moving pop number. Along the way, they've seen some label changes, line-up changes, and a re-focusing of vision…but that only makes us like them more. "In a lot of ways, this band couldn't have been from anywhere else but Philly," says Kattner to the Inquirer's Steve Klinge. "It's that attitude of 'I'm going to do what I want to do, and if you don't like it, the hell with you.' It's a real Philly mentality, and God bless it." God bless Man Man indeed.
8:00 at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., $20. Tickets available here.