What we're checking out this week!

Friday, September 19: Lily Allen

In some ways, I feel like Lily Allen and I are kindred spirits: we're both small, creative, music-loving brunettes, born within 2 months of each other (she's a smidge older); we both had trouble fitting in at school (although she seems to have had a rougher time); we were both obsessed with Myspace in an era of Myspace obsession (but then again, who wasn't). The difference of course is that she's a major pop star whose quirky, candid tunes have touched millions worldwide — and whose personal life has come under intense scrutiny as a result. The scrutiny got so bad that she almost retired from music altogether a few years back — and in that way, her new record Sheezus (yes, that's a Kanye shout-out) feels like a triumph. It's also damn good — mixing her signature off-kilter pop with deceptively smart lyrics about the media's view of female performers and overcoming drug use. This Friday, she brings her snarky pop to the Electric Factory for her first local show in 5 years. Come see her now lest she disappear again!

8:00 at the Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., $25. Tickets available here.

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Friday, September 19 and Saturday, September 20: Strand of Oaks

It's tempting to label Philly Americana act Strand of Oaks as the city's next big thing — except for this classification suggests he's about to break through, while in actuality he already has. The solo project of Philly-by-way-of-Indiana native Timothy Showalter, Strand of Oaks garnered substantial critical acclaim in past months, with a TV performance on Late Night With Seth Meyers and a glowing Pitchfork review — in addition to the adoration of tons of local fans. It's about time too — it's been more than 10 years since Showalter first started making music, and 5 since the release of his debut record Leave Ruin, an intimate portrait of an artist unhinged, imbued with a quiet sadness. Since then, he's relocated to Philly and undergone a deep personal crisis (and a car crash) — the effects of which are new record Heal. Inspired by both sprawling Springsteen-style arena rock and folk, Heal is a cathartic journey through Showalter's inner-demons that sounds just as good through headphones as it does blasted from car speakers. He brings it to life this week with two intimate shows at Boot & Saddle — unfortunately both are long sold-out, so we hope you scooped up tix in advance.

9:00 on Friday (tickets) and 8:30 on Saturday (sold out) at Boot & Saddle, 1131 S. Broad St.

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Saturday, September 20: Foxtail Fest

This weekend, indulge your love of hip-hop and electronica during the second annual Foxtail Fest, a day-long celebration of all of this, and more, at Chinatown's District N9ne. Jersey R&B singer and Top Dawg performer SZA (born Solana Rowe) headlines, bringing her hazy mix of chillwave beats and husky vocals to life; she's joined by A$AP Mob rappers A$AP Nast and A$AP Ant, and a slew of awesome DJs, including former Chiddy Bang DJ (and Made in America fave) Noah Breakfast, "Booty Quake" DJ Diamond Kuts, DJ Sylo, and more. The fest will also feature a circus theme complete with acrobats, aerialists, and contortionists — plus an outdoor fire show, psychedelic mood lighting, and everything you need to feel like you're totally tripping out, man. Coming from Temple? The fest offers a free shuttle service starting at 2 PM from Broad and Polett. Come dance your face off and close out the last weekend of summer in style.

4:00 at District N9ne, 460 N. 9th St., $25. Tickets available here.    

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Saturday, September 20: The Black Keys

It's easy to look at The Black Keys in 2014 and sorta shrug; to write them off as just another buzz band that sold out to the man and lost their edge. It's been a dozen years since the release of their debut record, The Big Come Up, a grungy, fuzzy, basement affair that felt delightfully lo-fi and obscure; in comparison, their 2014 offering Turn Blue feels glossy and anesthetized. So why still care about The Black Keys in 2014? Well for one, they didn't get where they are today based on buzz alone; the (soul) brothers Auerbach and Carney arrived at rock god status thanks to a rigorous schedule of writing, touring, and producing, and using their profits to open a new studio rather than blowing it on booze (although I'm sure they indulged a little). But mostly you should care about The Black Keys in 2014 because actually, they really rock. I've had the luck to catch the band myriad times over the past decade, at progressively larger venues — and each time the duo impressed me with blistering riffs and drums, emphatic, howled vocals, and enough sweat to float a small nation. Rock isn't dead — and The Black Keys are here to prove it.

8:00 at Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., $35–75. Tickets available here.

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