Of War and Peace
Their name notwithstanding, there's a lot more peaceful, easy feelings than combativeness in the music of Good Old War. Although Philly-rooted, their glistening harmonies and balmy airs could just as easily have sprung from the L.A. country-rock scene that's spawned acts like CS&N, Eagles and Dawes. Expect lots of samples from GOW's fresh-as-spring "Come Back as Rain" set. The Belle Brigade and Family of the Year celebrate in the opening slots.
Union Transit, 1026 Spring Garden St., 9 p.m. Friday, $18 (all ages), 215-232-2100, utphilly.com.
Feel the Buzz
He's the drummer and harmony singer for the Honey Brothers, not the lead singer or songwriter. Still, clubs booking this New York group often put the percussionist's name up front in the billing, 'cause handsome Adrian Grenier (of HBO's "Entourage" fame) pulls in crowds almost as well as calling himself "Free Beer." Fortunately, there's good music to be had, too, once past the celebrity factor — a breezy, new-wave-meets-folk-pop sound at times evocative of Talking Heads. Expect lots from the Honey Brothers' new and more seriously crafted (they say) "Time Flies Like a Peach" long-player. Also on the bill: Illinois.
North Star Bar, 27th and Poplar streets, 9 p.m. Friday, $17, 215-787-0488, northstarbar.com.
Brain-wave technology is seizing the minds of America's youth. Latest case in point — Conspirator — a hypnotizing instrumental mash-up of jam and electronica built around two Philly locals and Disco Biscuit principals — keyboardist Aron Magner and bassist Marc Brownstein. Out touting the new "Unlocked: Live from the Georgia Theatre" set, they'll be spinning spells with regular Chris Michetti (RAQ) and special guests IQ Sawka (from Pendulum), Blockhead and Khadafi Dub.
Trocadero, 10th and Arch streets, 9 p.m. Friday, $20 (18 and over) 215-922-LIVE, thetroc.com.
From Down Under
Put another shrimp on the barbie, mates. Colin Hay is back in town. Don't know which we enjoy more, his whimsical/self-deprecating tunes or equally funny between-song patter. You knew him as the former front guy of Aussie supergroup Men at Work, although they long ago relocated to groovy Southern California. Ryan Montbleu sings 'n strums first.
Keswick Theatre, Easton Road and Keswick Avenue, Glenside, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, $27.50-$33.50, 215-572-7650, keswicktheatre.com.
A Swinging Affair
Fifty years ago, Frank Sinatra conquered Paris with a swinging little sextet — a far cry from his usual big band — for boutique nightclub performances of gems like "Night and Day," "Imagination" and the saloon classic "One for My Baby." Captured then for an album, that night and its intimate spirit are now being relived (minus the bad jokes) by the deeply burnished jazz singer Kurt Elling, a serious talent ripe for the archival mission.
Zellerbach Theatre, Annenberg Center, 3680 Walnut St., 8 p.m. Saturday, $20-$55, 215-898-3910, pennpresents.org.
A capella Party
Hundreds of a capella groups perform and compete on America's college campuses. But none has "graduated" and carried its diploma farther than Straight No Chaser. The Indiana University alums offer a gleeful noise — parts doo-wop, jazz harmonics, Broadway and beatbox, too.
Tower Theater, 69th and Ludlow streets, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, $27.50, $39.50, $49.50, 215-745-3000, livenation.com.
Tribute to a legend
Veteran jamsters Mr. Charlie have called an audible for their Saturday gig at the Tin Angel. One of the sets by the unit, which describes its sound as "sonic interpretations of classic rock 'n' soul through a Grateful Dead filter," will be composed of tunes by the Band as a tribute to that group's late drummer-vocalist, Levon Helm, who died last week at age 71.
Tin Angel, 20 S. 2nd St., 7:30 p.m. Saturday, $10, 215-928-0770, tinangel.com.
A new 'Golden' age
Golden Nugget Casino Hotel continues its four-day grand-opening celebration Friday with free performances by the Fearless Flores Family, a motorcycle stunt team; Tino Ferreira, the "Rolla Bolla balancing man"; and BMX stunt rider Terry Adams. The day's festivities include a 9 p.m. (ticketed) performance by rockers Third Eye Blind.
Saturday's agenda includes an appearance by cable TV's "Cake Boss," Buddy Valastro (tickets for the 2 p.m. appearance must be purchased), more stunts from the Flores Family and Ferreira, a street-bike demonstration by Aaron Colton, a scotch-and-cigar-tasting event and a fireworks display. Saturday's entertainment roster features Whoopi Goldberg yukking it up in the Grand Ballroom (9:30 p.m.) while Pink Floyd tribute-act extraordinaire the Machine spaces out in the Showroom at 9 p.m. (tickets required for both shows).
The weekend wraps up Sunday with free performances by the Floreses and Adams and a 2 p.m. ticketed set by the Oak Ridge Boys.
For tickets, call 866-746-5336, or go to goldennugget.com/atlanticcity.
Fishtown's annual fete of the fish that gave the 'hood its name features live music, vendors selling goodies of all kinds and the Kenzinger Challenge Run, a 3-mile scavenger hunt taking participants throughout the neighborhood's bars and breweries. The music is curated by WXPN and the Philly Roller Girls, while the more than 70 vendors will be hocking crafts and edible goodies. An estimated 3,000 people showed up to last year's to benefit the Friends of the Penn Treaty Park. Rain date is Sunday.
Penn Treaty Park, Beach Street and Columbia Avenue, noon-6 p.m., Saturday, free ($22 to register in advance, $25 day-of for the Kenzinger Challenge Run), fishtownshadfest.net.
Fun in W. Philly
The Community Education Center hosts the first Community Arts Festival, featuring a day full of dancing, African drumming and film. Capping off the day's festivities is a fundraising dance party with music courtesy of DJ Orville Peters. Vendors will also be on hand, selling DIY crafts and art. All of the money raised will benefit the CEC.
Community Education Center, 3500 Lancaster Ave., 9 a.m.-1 a.m. Saturday, $15-$40, 215-387-1911, cecarts.org.
Pop-music collectibles take center stage this weekend as the first Pennsylvania Spring Music Explosion rocks the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Montgomery County.
Vendors will be hawking all manner of rock nuggets including albums and CDs, posters and tour swag. Philly-bred '50s rockabilly star Charlie Gracie and Vince Martell, guitarist for proto-headbangers Vanilla Fudge, will be on hand to meet and greet the public. Also set to appear is Gary Sohmers, the pop-culture appraiser on PBS' "Antiques Roadshow," who will tell you how much your musical treasures are worth.
Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Oaks, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, free, 973-209-6067, springmusicexplosion.com.
Stagings of William Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" are rare. With good reason: The show ain't pretty. There's large-scale warfare, severed heads, rape and many more ghastly goings-on that those who know Shakespeare as the guy who wrote "Romeo and Juliet" certainly won't see coming. The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre tries its hand (no pun intended, for those who've seen the play before) at one of Shakespeare's toughest, in all of its bloody-good glory. n
Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, 2111 Sansom St., through May 19, $25-$35, 215-496-8001, phillyshakespeare.org.