What we're seeing Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 21: Cassavetes

Philly punks Cassavetes have been a band for about a decade now, but really their story dates back even further. It all starts in the late 1990s, when the DIY punk scene was flourishing, thanks in part to bands like Kid Dynamite and Lifetime, and venues like The Killtime and Stalag 13 — and when Philadelphians Josh Agran (Paint It Black) and Pat McCunney (Kill the Man Who Questions) first starting playing punk in Philly. Nearly a decade later they formed Cassavetes, taking their name from a Fugazi track, and their inspiration from their hardcore past and beyond (think post-punk, rock, power-pop). Over the years, the band evolved, moving from a rotating lineup (early incarnations featured members of Purling Hiss, Pissed Jeans, Man Overboard, and more) to a solid four-piece, consisting of Agran, McCunney, Jon Murphy (Sore Saints) and Chris Sigda (Likers). We're drawn to these guys because their long history means they've perfected their take on rock, and because they're proof that punk never dies; it just grows up a little. They play B&B this Thursday; show up early for the debut of Jackie Thousand, featuring high school teacher-turned-front woman Marilyn McCauley.

8:00 at Bourbon & Branch, 705 N. 2nd St., $5–7. Tickets available here.

Saturday, May 23: On the Water

Self-described West Philly "oddball" folkies On the Water craft creative and varied musical tapestries, which over the years have incorporated fiddle, accordion, tambourine, Eastern-European gypsy stomps, whiskey-fueled cowboy ballads, harmonica blues, and perfect dance party fodder — assuming, of course, that the dance party in question takes place in someone's basement late at night, the crowd clapping and drinking beer together. Formed a decade back by multi-instrumentalist Fletcher VanVliet — who boasts the theatricality of a comic actor, and the deep, grizzled pipes of a Waits (as in Tom Waits) — On the Water got its start playing house shows and basement parties, building fans through word of mouth. Since 2011, they've released several demos and two full-length records, including the brand new Cordelia, which they celebrate this weekend. Compared to earlier releases, which were more stomp-y than serious, Cordelia finds VanVliet exploring his sentimental side, trading his banjo for a guitar, and grizzled howl for moody crooning — for a result less zany, but just as compelling.

8:00 at PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., $6–10. Tickets available at the door.

Sunday, May 24: The Making Time Memorial Day Rad-B-Q

If I had my way, I'd spend every Memorial Day weekend ringing in summer somewhere tropical, preferably an island, with a cool drink in my hand. Unfortunately, island travel proves expensive, so the next best thing is pretending to enjoy island life, without ever leaving city limits. Your best bet for a faux island romp? Making Time's annual Memorial Day Rad-B-Q, featuring food, dancing, and all the tropical drinks you want, served in giant Fishbowls, as if specifically created for perfect selfies. It all goes down at Bamboo Bar, a waterfront bar complete with straw umbrellas and a pool (oh yeah), that's populated by douchebags 90% of the season (at least according to Yelp), but trades Ed Hardy tees for cool indie beats a few times a year thanks to Making Time guru Dave P. and his crew. And while there's no live band this year, we're satiated dancing to the cool grooves of Making Time's resident DJs (plus the Broadzilla DJs). Did we mention free beer for the first 2 hours? Happy summer Philly!

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

Tuesday, May 26 and Wednesday, May 27: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

It's hard to believe it's been 10 years since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah first burst onto the scene, all wide-eyed and frenetic and full of quirky one-liners about David Bowie. Since then, they've become basically indie stalwarts; NPR even counts their self-titled debut as one of the 50 best records of the decade. I remember the first time I heard Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! (they dropped the exclamation point around record two) feeling immediately drawn to its rawness and charm — Alex Ounsworth was this twerpy guy with a unique, warbly voice and he just totally went for it, screeching these weird lyrics about tooth skin and wanting salt that half the time I couldn't understand, but could get behind nonetheless. Eventually I found out they were based in Philadelphia, and since then, I've been lucky enough to see them dozens of times, from major venue openings to neighborhood block parties, and each time they delivered. This week, they celebrate their 10 year anniversary with a pair of back-to-back shows at Johnny Brenda's, alongside another band trafficking in quirky charm: Spinto spin-off Teen Men. Go for the vibes; stay for slice of local music history.

9:00 Tuesday and Wednesday at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $20. Tickets for Tuesday available here (Wednesday is sold out).


See also: Johnny Showcase & The Mystic Ticket at Boot & Saddle (Friday, May 22), Melt Banana at Johnny Brenda's (Friday, May 22), Shivery Shakes at Kung Fu Necktie (Saturday, May 23), William Fitzsimmons at World Café Live (Saturday, May 23), Cheap Dinosaurs at Boot & Saddle (Saturday, May 23), Intergalactix at Milkboy (Saturday, May 23), Snoozer at Boot & Saddle (Tuesday, May 26)