The sounds of summer: Philadelphia’s festival season has something for everyone
June 2 and 3 www.okayplayer.com
For the fifth consecutive year, the always-eclectic Roots Picnic lands at the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. But this time it’s bigger and better, with 20 performances spanning two days. As always, ?uestlove, Black Thought and the rest of the Legendary Roots Crew headline the picnic, but this year they also serve as the backing band for a performance by Golden Era hip-hop innovators De La Soul.
Must see: Indie-rock fans will be pleased to see St. Vincent and tUnE-yArDs take the stage, and for those craving frenetic dance music, don’t miss former Philadelphian Diplo (who performs solo and with DJ Switch as Major Lazer) and James Murphy of the late LCD Soundsystem. But the weekend truly belongs to great hip-hop, with performances by emerging local Chill Moody, genre-smashing Power 99 DJ (and producer of Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe”) Diamond Kuts and experimental-rap duo Shabazz Palaces.
Riot Fest East
July 19-21, www.riotfest.org
Last year’s inaugural Riot Fest East brought classic punk bands like X, The Descendants and Philly’s Dead Milkmen to Penn’s Landing. And this year, Riot Fest East expands to a three-day festival taking place at both the Festival Pier and the TLA on South Street.
Must See: Only the opening night has been announced so far, but it promises to be a wild one. Legendary Swedish punks Refused headline, followed by Midwest emo band The Promise Ring. Also on the bill is OFF!, the thrashing new punk quartet led by Keith Morris, who is a former member of Black Flag and the Circle Jerks. But the highlight of the first night will be the relatively unknown local band +HIRS+, who specialize in packing 30 second songs with unbelievable amounts of riot.
July 20-22, www.xpn.org
Local Philly radio station WXPN’s annual fest features more than 20 bands in three days at Wiggins Park on the Camden waterfront.
Must see: The lineup includes some exceptional bands: sometimes-experimental rockers Wilco, early ’90s folk-rock stalwarts the Counting Crows, the hard-partying The Hold Steady, Canadian singer-songwriter Kathleen Edwards and the new band led by Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo. But the local performers are the real highlights this year. Don’t miss longtime West Philly favorites Dr. Dog, the jovial pop of Good Old War and the hard-traveling, pedal-to-the-metal rock ‘n’ roll of the War On Drugs.
Philadelphia Folk Festival
August 17-19, www.pfs.org
This longest continuously-running festival of its kind celebrates its 51st anniversary this year at Old Pool Farm in Upper Salford Township.
Must see: Roots-rock veterans Little Feat headline this year, with legendary songwriter and Grammy-nominee John Hiatt hot on their heels. First Lady Of Rockabilly Wanda Jackson, who made an immaculate comeback last year with the help of producer Jack White (White Stripes) on her album “The Party Ain’t Over,” brings her raucous twang down to the farm.
Summer at the Mann
The Mann Center returns with its excellent summer concert series. The Philadelphia Orchestra takes over for three nights (July 19-21), and the Pittsburg Symphony performs music from the classic video game “The Legend Of Zelda” on July 25.
Must see: On June 23, Jill Scott hosts her Summer Block Party, which includes a performance by West Philly hero and Will Smith collaborator DJ Jazzy Jeff. The centerpiece of the Mann’s summer series is two consecutive nights (July 29 and 30) with the ethereal Icelandic pop ensemble Sigur Ros.
Labor Day weekend: Made in America festival
Jay-Z’s gigantic Labor Day weekend party on the Ben Franklin Parkway is gearing up to be the can’t-miss event of the summer. On Sept. 1 and 2, nearly 30 artists will descend on Philadelphia for the Budweiser Made in America festival. “Everybody knows my love affair with Philly from the great artists I’ve signed from here,” Jay-Z said at a press conference on the art museum steps. “It’s going to be a great day in Philly.”