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Our Weekly Concert Picks: April 16–April 22

Where you’ll find us this week!

Where you'll find us this week!

Friday, April 18: The Black Lips

According to Facebook, The Black Lips have been a band for 15 years. Yet ask the guys themselves, and they'll tell you it's been just five. "You're not a real band until you've been a band for 10 years," explains singer/guitarist Cole Alexander to Red Bull Music. It's true they've come a long way. The first time I saw the Lips live (at Johnny Brenda's, in 2009), I almost died. It was sweaty, packed, and mid-way through, a massive, 300 lb. man stage-dove directly on top of me (for reference, I'm 5'1½" and generally described as "small"). In the early days, crazy antics were what the band was known for—moshing and crowd-surfing, public urination, all-out brawls. They were, at one time, banned from Canada. Yet somewhere along the line, they cleaned up just enough to casually become one of the best punk bands currently active. Their seventh full-length, Underneath the Rainbow (out last month on Vice Records) is a solid offering of garage-punk jangle, with a few surprises—like the Beatles-y rattle of opener "Drive-By Buddy," or the Southern rock groove of "Boys in the Wood"—that show they're still evolving. They'll play two shows in Philadelphia this Friday—at XPN's Free at Noon, alongside new wave icon Boy George (yes, really), then later that night at Union Transfer. Urination NOT expected—although party vibes most certainly are.

12:00 noon at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., free with RSVP; and 8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $17. Tickets available here.


Friday, April 18: Mac DeMarco

Brooklyn-by-way-of–Edmonton, Canada singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco is frequently described as "slacker-pop," an apt moniker, perhaps, for sleepy melodies that never seem to try too hard (like 2012's breezy "Ode to Viceroy"). Add to the list a penchant for public nudity, drunkenness, and looking like you never shower—and you have all the ingredients for a new hipster poster boy: endlessly creative, but too cool to care. Except for maybe he does care. His new record, Salad Days, shows the 23-year-old mop-top maturing…at least a little bit. "This album's got a lot more personal stuff on it," he tells Passion of the Weiss. Tunes like "Let My Baby Stay" were inspired by his girlfriend, Kiera McNally, while reflective dirge "Passing Out Pieces" reveals the frayed mind of a musician suddenly thrust into the spotlight. Still, that doesn't mean he's gone completely soft—his live shows are still raucous, drunken affairs—whether DeMarco likes it or not. "People [just] come to our shows, and it's out of my hands," he explains. This Friday, he'll journey from BKLYN to Philly to play Underground Arts—hopefully you didn't slack on buying tix, because this bad boy is long SOLD OUT.

9:00 at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., sold out.


Friday, April 18: TJ Kong at the Atomic Bomb

One from the local front! Philly "post apocalyptic blues" band TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb craft gritty, stompin', vintage-tinged charmers, equally inspired by the beatnik freak-folk of the '60s and '70s and whiskey-fueled nights in Philadelphia, 2014. Formed over half a decade ago by Dan Bruskewicz and Dan Martino—former restaurant workers who turned to music as an escape from the "terrible, mindless, trend[iness]"—TJ Kong slowly grew to one of the city's most invigorating live acts, thanks to Bruskewicz's husky howl and an overwhelming sense of revelry. Along the way, they released two full-length records, toured the country four times over (check out their SXSW tour diary here), and are now prepping the release of their new EP, Kong, which they'll celebrate this Friday at JB's. Recorded live in one day with the help of veteran producers Bill Moriatry (Dr. Dog, The Lawsuits, Toy Soldiers) and Zach Goldstein, Kong resonates with windswept vibes and the type of organic energy that only comes from off-the-cuff performances. Before you go: stream Kong in its entirety via Bandcamp, then scoop this live vid of the band, accompanied by Balkan group The Only Band in Illyria.

9:15 at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $10. Tickets available here.


Saturday, April 19: American Babies

American Babies is the project of Tom Hamilton, Philadelphian and balladeer, whose finger-picked guitar anthems abound with twangy strings, big surging choruses, and the same moonlit appeal as your fave '60s and '70s blues records. Formed 7 years back when Hamilton, a musician by trade, grew disillusioned with the relentless touring schedule of his past band, American Babies was created to get "back to the music," and has evolved slowly from a solo act to a full-fledged band, whose stompin' live show has won them opening slots for The National and um, Sheryl Crow. In the past year, they've shared TWO new releases: 2013's Knives and Teeth, a twangy collection of motorik anthems and blues-tinged slow jams; and 2014's Stark & Red, a stripped down EP featuring Hamilton and singer/songwriter Ginger Coyle. They play Underground Arts this Saturday, alongside Fort Lauderdale, jam-funk band The Heavy Pets; come celebrate Easter weekend with good tunes and good vibes.

8:00 at Underground Arts, 1200 Callowhill St., $12. Tickets available here.


Saturday, April 19: Record Store Day

Record Store Day returns to Philadelphia this year, with about a million excuses to scoop up some vinyl AND catch free live performances. My shopping list this year is quickly growing (pretty into this CCR singles collection, plus releases from local Pissed Jeans, Creepoid, and Man Man)—and so is my list of must-see shows. Philly boasts a ton of great options this year—there's heady, NYC rockers Lushes, plus space-popsters Gardens & Villa at Old City's AKA Music; punkers Goddamnit, Ex Friends, and more at NoLib's Creep Records; goth-rock kings Far-Out Fangtooth at South Street's Repo Records; and sludge-punk trio Fight Amp at CC's Long in the Tooth. For burbs folks, there's Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band and Our Griffins at Doylestown's Siren Records. And for lovers of melodic, '90s, indie rock, there's Philly vets Strapping Fieldhands with Watery Love at Fishtown's Philly Record Exchange. Basically, you have no excuse NOT to venture out this weekend—because RSD comes but once a year, and vinyl is forever.

Various times and locations throughout Philadelphia; for more info, and a full list of RSD releases, check out their homepage, here. Also scoop a pretty comprehensive list of local performances via XPN's The Key.