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Our Weekly Concert Picks, May 22–May 28

What we’re doing Memorial Day weekend!

What we're doing Memorial Day weekend!

Friday, May 24: Arrah and the Ferns CD Release / Farewell Show at PhilaMOCA

Semisonic once sang "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end." We don't listen to Semisonic anymore (although "Closing Time" killed in high school), but we DO listen to Arrah and the Ferns, and this Friday, the South Philly indie-blues foursome will celebrate a beginning, and an end, as they release their fourth LP Make Your Mind and then promptly disband (for now at least). Formed in 2005 by vocalist/powerhouse Arrah Fisher and friends in Muncie, IN, the band moved to Philly in 2008, and has seen several different incarnations—and musical styles—since. The forthcoming Mind is an affecting, alt-country journey that places the focus squarely on Fisher's vocals, and was recorded in the woods in Pine Plains, NY. The band will celebrate its release this Friday with "kegs, tears and probably piñatas" (their words) before going their separate ways. But, "have no fear," writes Fisher on Facebook—"the ferns always return in some form." Catch 'em now while you can! Before you go: stream the title track to Mind right here and fall in love with Fisher's vocals all over again.

8:00 at PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., $7–$10. Tickets available at the door.

Saturday, May 25: Sun Ra Arkestra at Johnny Brenda's

If Sun Ra were still alive today, he'd be 99 years old; as it stands, Arkestra band leader Marshall Allen is 89, having joined forces with Ra back in the early '50s. It's an impressive tenure for any band, especially one as bizarre and fruitful as the Arkestra, who've been the city's fave creative indulgence since they relocated here in 1968. Over the past 45 years, the Arkestra's released more than 30 records; experimented with keyboards, tape delays, and free jazz to great success; and played dozens of impromptu shows near their residence/home base at 5626 Morton Street in Germantown. "To save the planet I had to go to the worst place on Earth," Ra supposedly joked before the move. "And that was Philadelphia." These days, the band doesn't gig quite as often, although they do occasionally show up unannounced (I caught them last when they surprised everyone at a Yo La Tengo concert)—which makes this scheduled gig all the rarer. Expect positive vibes, dancing, and new arrangements of all your Sun Ra faves.

8:00 at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $15. Tickets available here.

Saturday, May 25: The Thermals at Union Transfer

In today's rock-lite world, where bands like The National can play for six hours during advant-garde art installations—it's nice to know that there are still bands out there rocking fast and hard, who will leave you winded after a 45-minute set. (Ed note: nothing against The National, or the MoMA PS1). The Thermals are one of those bands, and this Saturday will bring their scrappy post-punk jamz to life at Union Transfer, during an all-ages show that will have you moving too fast to stop and consider what sort of grand, artistic statement they're making (although if we had to guess, we'd say it's something like live free and rock hard.) Formed in 2002 in Portland, OR, The Thermals boast five records of brash, aggressive head-bangers, including the recently-released Desperate Ground, which explores the inevitability of war and death through shredding riffs. Their show Saturday should see them tackling both old and new material—and quite possibly rocking the crowd right down to its skivvies (see this slightly NSFW pic of guitarist/vocalist Hutch Harris earlier this year).  Before you go: check out the vid for "Born to Kill" and get shreddy.

8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $15. Tickets available here.

Sunday, May 26: Making Time Memorial Day Rad-B-Q at Bamboo Bar

Ok, so it's not a concert in the traditional sense (as in: there are no bands playing the event), but there will be DJ's aplenty dropping fly tunes, and spinning rage-worthy mixes for your live listening (and dancing) pleasure. Mostly though, we're excited for the Rad-B-Q because it's 1) OUTSIDE, 2) NEXT TO A POOL (see #1), and 3) your very best chance for pretending you're on a tropical island, while remaining firmly within city limits. We trust Dave P and co. to always throw a rad party, and this one has all the ingredients for success, including a great DJ line-up, sweet drink specials (don't ask us how many fishbowls we'll be consuming), and delicious eats from PYT and Little Baby's Ice Cream. And yes—the weather will probably be too cold for swimming, but it's nice to have the option should we sweat too much on the dance floor.

6:00 at Bamboo Bar, 927 N. Delaware Ave., $8–$10. Tickets available here.

Friday through Sunday, May 24–26: Sundrop Music and Arts Fest at The Fire

It's the summer! And the weekend! And if Making Time's all-out rager sounds too intense for you, consider hitting up NoLibs for the three-day Sundrop Music and Arts Fest, featuring two FREE outdoor concerts Saturday and Sunday, and ticketed events Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at The Fire. Philly faves Juston Stens & The Get Real Gang and Andrew Lipke headline the free shows on Saturday and Sunday respectively, which kick off at 3 p.m., and also feature sets from Anjuli Josephine and Chalk & The Beige Americans (Saturday), and Slowey & the Boats and August John Lutz II (Sunday)—not to mention craft vendors, food trucks, and general summer vibes. Modern Colour and Juston Stens (again!) headline the Friday and Saturday night shows, while Sunday night will be a Bob Dylan tribute night, featuring tons of special guests.  Check out the Fest's FB page for more details—and see a complete line-up here. Nothing says summer like a free outdoor show!

Friday, May 24 at 8:00, Saturday, May 25 at 3:00 and 8:00, and Sunday, May 26 at 3:00 and 8:00 at The Fire, 412 West Girard Ave., free–$10. Tickets and info available here.