The Q102 Jingle Ball
These Wells Fargo Center supershows can be a ton of fun. And Q102 is really flexing its booking power on this night, with a huge list of pop juggernauts. Calvin Harris, Selena Gomez, 5 Seconds of Summer, Shawn Mendes, Tove Lo, Hailee Steinfeld, and Alessia Cara are the biggies.
Harris, of course, is the handsome international DJ with massive dance-floor bangers, currently charming the nation in "How Deep Is Your Love." We'll be curious to see how 17-year-old Mendes delivers his smash "Stitches." Tove Lo, the 28-year-old Swedish pop darling, exploded internationally with this year's Queen of the Clouds, whence came the hits "Habits (Stay High)" and "Talking Body." Cara is a powerful performer with nothing but a guitar. On this night, she'll be electric, performing tracks in arena mode from her brand-new album, Know-It-All.
- Bill Chenevert
The Q102 Jingle Ball, with Calvin Harris, Selena Gomez, 5 Seconds of Summer, Shawn Mendes, Tove Lo, Charlie Puth, Hailee Steinfeld, R. City, Natalie La Rose, Conrad Sewell, and Alessia Cara, begins at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. Tickets: $26-$176. Information: 215-336-3600, Wellsfargocenterphilly.com.
The Photon Band
The Photon Band were one of the leading lights of the 1990s "Psychedelphia" scene that included Lenola, Azusa Plane, and the Lilys. It has been more than two years since Art DiFuria, who now teaches at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, last convened the group for a hometown show, but to celebrate the release of the band's new album, Songs of Rapture and Hatred, he'll be back Saturday at Johnny Brenda's with longtime cohorts Jeff Tanner, Chris Kubicek, and Pat Berkery.
The excellent Songs of Rapture favors compact psych-pop tunes with an occasional country slide guitar, although it does make room for one nearly 10-minute meditation. There's a Photon Band T-shirt that declares, "We know we sound old. We don't care." That was true when the band began in 1993, and it's doubly true now. And that's a good thing.
- Steve Klinge
Photon Band, with Palomar and Tin Horses, play at 9 p.m. Saturday at Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave. Tickets: $12. Information: 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com.
The HillBenders' "Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry"
Putting The Who's rock opera Tommy together with a little-known Missouri bluegrass band seems about as an unlikely a pairing as, say, Allison Krauss and Robert Plant - but we know how well that turned out.
Indeed, The HillBenders' so-called Whograss is defying expectations, too, wowing audiences from South by Southwest to the Philly Folk Festival. Pete Townshend, hearing the buzz, even invited the band to a Who show earlier this year in Nashville.
The HillBenders' banjo-and-mandolin opus, Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry - brainchild of SXSW cofounder/musician/producer Louis Jay Meyers - has evolved from a short-term recording project (the album came out in June) into an ongoing tour that makes a stop Sunday in Philadelphia.
An all-acoustic, Appalachian take on Tommy can be hard to imagine - what, no drums? - until you hear it. Walking a fine line between reverence and reinvention, The HillBenders have created a thoroughly satisfying, musically complex interpretation, highlighted by singer/mandolin player Nolan Lawrence's impassioned vocals. Onstage, this quintet has a blast with it, as does the audience.
- Nicole Pensiero
The HillBenders perform "Tommy: A Bluegrass Opry" at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Tin Angel, 20 S. 2d Street. Tickets: $15. Information: 215-928-0770, www.tinangel.com.