All alfresco, the Mann Center for the Performing Arts hosts a wide range of musical talent on its stage this summer. (Photo by H. Sandler courtesy Mann Center)
On any given night of the week, there’s no shortage of awesome music rocking stages in our fair city.
We’ve sifted through flyers, calendars and tapped in-the-know friends to bring you the best of what’s going on in Philadelphia, music-wise.
Here’s a look at the shows we’re the most excited about this July — a month jam-packed with live, mostly outdoor show — including some killer reunions, both indie and easy listening, plus a few lineups that’ll take you straight back to the ’90s (and ’80s and ’70s).
Read on for our picks of the best live shows to take in this month, below.
• Philly 4th of July Jam: Friday, July 4, 7-11 p.m. Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The blowout Wawa Welcome America Philly Fourth of July Jam, one of the biggest annual events in Philadelphia, returns to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day on Friday, July 4. A wealth of patriotic festivities take over the city, but it’s the Philly 4th of July Jam concert that draws tens of thousands to rock out on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Philadelphia’s own hometown heroes The Roots are back again to curate a killer lineup and, for the second year, VH1 has partnered up with Wawa Welcome America to provide a high-definition nationwide broadcast of the Philly 4th of July Jam. The 2014 music lineup features great names like Ed Sheeran, Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Hudson, Aloe Blacc and, of course, The Roots. Did we mention it’s totally free?
• On the Run Tour: Jay Z and Beyonce: Saturday, July 5, 8 p.m. Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way. Powerhouse music couple Beyoncé and Jay Z are hitting the road together for a summer stadium tour and, yes — the On the Run Tour stops in Philly. On Saturday, July 5, The Carters land at Citizen Bank Park, undoubtedly filling the stadium.
• Phish: July 8-9, 7:30 p.m. Mann Center. Legendary jam band Phish is back on tour this summer, and makes a long-awaited stop to play at the Mann for the first time since 1995. With the band’s first new studio albumin five years, Fuego, and a national tour, Phish fans have plenty to dance about. Note that tickets for both shows are sold out, but StubHub is a great resource to score tickets to this and other sold-out shows.
• Bruno Mars: Thursday, July 17, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ. If you’ve ever caught even a little piece of a live Bruno Mars show, it’s easy to see that this baby-faced front man is a natural-born performer. He parents decked him out in an Elvis get up and put him on stage at their nightclub when he was only two years old. Look out for A-plus choreography plus a full brass section for the second leg of Mars’ Moonshine Jungle Tour.
• Lynard Skynard & Bad Company: Friday, July 18, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ. This might be the one and only show of the year where it’s entirely acceptable and expected to yell “Play Free Bird!” pretty much anytime during Skynard’s set. Of course, we’re not too sure how Bad Company is going to react.
• Puss N Boots featuring Norah Jones, Sasha Dobson and Catherine Popper: Friday, July 18, 8 p.m., TLA, 334 South Street. Supporting No Fools, No Fun, the debut album from this sweet trio of ladies with a trio of guitars, Puss N Boots is certainly more stripped down and a whole bunch more countrified than Norah Jones’ pervious works, but somehow a lot more fun.
Don't miss out on taking in tons of tunes at outdoor concerts like the XPoNential Festival this July. (Photo courtesy WXPN)
For more July music picks, see below.
• Yes and Syd Arthur: Saturday, July 19, 8 p.m., Tower Theatre, 69th and Ludlow streets, Upper Darby. Prog rock godfathers Yes are back on the road supporting a newly released album Heaven & Earth featuring new vocalist Jon Davidson. Choosing Davidson as the new frontman makes perfect sense given that he spent considerable time on vocals for Yes tribute band, Roundabout. Modern day outfit Syd Arthur opens.
• Neutral Milk Hotel: Monday, July 21, 6 p.m., Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue. There are many people of a certain age (i.e. came of age in the late ’90s) that resigned themselves to thinking that they would never have a chance to see the glory of Jeff Magnum’s Neutral Milk Hotel. Happily, over the past few years Magnum has reunited the band for a handful of shows and this summer, even more dates. Listening to tracks from On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea on the lawn of the Mann is going to be magical.
• James Taylor: Tuesday, July 22, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ. While he might not have those Sweet Baby James era ’70s locks and ’stache combo anymore, James Taylor’s still got that one of a kind voice with some seriously cross-generational appeal. Also, if someone can command an arena with an acoustic guitar, it’s definitely this guy.
• The Soulshine Tour featuring Michael Franti & Spearhead: Tuesday, July 22, 7 p.m. Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue. Combining groovy music and yoga practice, The Soulshine Tour arrives in to Philly on July 22 for an afternoon session of yoga followed by a concert with musical performances by Michael Franti & Spearhead, SOJA, Brett Dennan and Trevor Hall at the Skyline Stage at the Mann. Bring your yoga mat and good vibes.
• Lionel Richie: Wednesday, July 23, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ. Lionel Richie is promising “All Hits, All Night Long” for this summer’s tour. What does that mean for you? Basically you’ll truly be saying hello to you and me all night long (all night). Lady killer CeeLo Green opens.
• Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Friday, July 25, 6 p.m., Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Avenue. Going strong since the early ’80s, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds have aged both gracefully and gothically. The consummate showman, Cave and his current line up of Bad Seeds put on a performance that’s lyrically lush, musically multi-layered and just as dark as ever. Local hero Kurt Vile opens.
• XPoNential Music Festival featuring Ryan Adams & Jenny Lewis: Saturday, July 26, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ. WXPN’s XPoNential Music Festival kicks off with alt-country poster-boy turned prolific producer Ryan Adams and indie rock darling Jenny Lewis. Be on the lookout for plenty of local representation on the line up from the likes Man Man, Dave Hause and Marah.
• XPoNential Music Festival featuring Beck & Band of Horses: Sunday, July 27, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ. Day two of XPoNential headliner Beck’s newest release, Morning Phase is gloomy and glorious a la 2002’s Sea Change and the live show is most likely going to tug at a few heartstrings.
• Nine Inch Nails & Soundgarden: Wednesday, July 30, 7 p.m., Susquehanna Bank Center, 1 Harbor Boulevard, Camden, NJ. It was the year 1994 and Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral and Soundgarden’s Superunknown were in heavy rotation. Twenty years later (!!) these angsty ’90s favorites are sharing the stage in Camden, making for the idea excuse to break out that backwacks ‘N’ emblazoned T-shirt.
• Jurassic Five & Dilated Peoples: Thursday, July 31, 6:30 p.m., River Stage at Great Plaza, 101 S. Columbus Boulevard. Back together after a six-year hiatus backpack rap outfit Jurassic 5 are joining forces with fellow alt-hip hop dudes Dilated Peoples and Beat Junkies that’s gonna turn the Great Plaza into a Concrete Schoolyard.