Summertime, and the music is everywhere, both outdoors and in. The concert high season is upon us, and what follows is an annotated list of recommended shows, both oversized and intimate, in the open air and inside where the air-conditioning will be keeping the listening cool.
Fall Out Boy/Paul Wall June 1Infinity on High, the album by emo heroes Fall Out Boy, opens with an intro by hip-hop kingpin Jay-Z, and the band's lyricist, bass player Pete Wentz, carries himself like a rap star. So it makes marketing, if not musical, sense for FOB to pair with Houston rapper Paul Wall, whose latest CD title could be a motto for street cred-obsessed pop stars of rock and rap: Get Money, Stay True. At the Tweeter Center.
The Pipettes June 3There'll be finger-snapping, postmodern girl-group giddiness from the Brighton, England, trio, who've been buzzed about on music blogs since last year. The polka dot-favoring vocalists will finally have music in U.S. stores in Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me, an EP due June 5, two days after they make their Philadelphia debut. At the First Unitarian Church.
Keren Ann June 3The self-titled, English-language fourth album from the globe-trotting, Israeli-born chanteuse is full of songs of shimmering beauty, and one of the strongest releases of the year. At the World Cafe Live.
Kings of Leon June 7The Followills - brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared, and cousin Matthew - keep getting better at the family business of making ripping Southern alt-rock. Evidence aplenty is exhibited on the new album Because of the Times, whose haunting lead track, "Knocked Up," has nothing to do with the Judd Apatow movie of the same name. At Electric Factory.
True Colors June 15Named after the Cyndi Lauper song that has become a coming-out anthem, this multi-act tour advocates for gay (and lesbian) rights, with a rainbow mix of acts that includes Lauper, Blondie's Deborah Harry, comedian Margaret Cho, indie-punk R & B growlers The Gossip, British dance duo Erasure and New York hipster DJs Misshapes. At the Borgata.
John Prine/Patty Griffin June 16This is the rootsy Fairmount Park double bill of the summer, with Lyle Lovett and k.d. lang (appearing three nights later) coming in a close second. Prine is a wizened and wry rascal, whose latest is a collection of country covers with Mac Wiseman. Griffin's new Children Running Through is one of the folk-country standouts of the year. At the Mann Center for the Performing Arts.
The Nightwatchman June 25Just because he'll be playing an acoustic guitar, don't expect Tom Morello to be keeping quiet as the Nightwatchman. The Rage Against the Machine axe man - who'll be with his reunited band at the Rock the Bells festival at Randall's Island in New York on July 28 and 29 - puts a Johnny Cash/Woody Guthrie rabble-rousing cap on as his alter ego and won't have any trouble filling up the room with his own rage. At the North Star Bar.
Manu Chao June 29The multicultural musical melange of the Bilbao-born and Paris-raised world-music mover and shaker, who produced African husband-and-wife duo Amadou and Mariam's Dimanche a Bamako, mixes everything from ska to rai to rockabilly. At Electric Factory.
Morrissey June 29 & July 5The leader of the revered 1980s British mope-rock pioneers, the Smiths, still commands a cult audience. His most recent solo albums, 2004's You Are the Quarry and last year's Ringleader of the Tormentors, have shown him to still possess a droll, stinging wit. June 29 at the Mann and July 5 at the Borgata.
Seun Kuti and Femi Kuti June 30 & July 12The two sons of legendary Nigerian Afro-pop titan Fela Kuti come to town twice in 21/2 weeks. Seun plays with Fela's original band, Egypt 80, so expect a polyrhythmic dance party on his first American tour. Femi is a seasoned pro who has dabbled in hip-hop as well as Afrobeat. Both dates at World Cafe Live.
The Police July 19Cashing the reunion check is just too tempting, even for an artist who's gone on to as successful a solo career as Sting. So the bassist is back with drummer Stewart Copeland and guitarist Andy Summers. There's no question that the British trio was great back in the day. But can fractured pop songs like "Roxanne" and "I Can't Stand Losing You?" have anything more than nostalgia to offer more than two decades after the band broke up? At Citizens Bank Park.
Xponential Music Festival July 19-22The WXPN singer-songwriter weekend has a new name befitting its vaulting ambitions this year. Headliners include Fountains of Wayne, Fratellis and Los Lonely Boys, and the local rock scene is well-represented with Dr. Dog, Slo-Mo and Bitter Bitter Weeks, among others. At Wiggins Park in Camden.
Toby Keith/Miranda Lambert July 22Take a pass on Kenny Chesney, whose Lincoln Financial Field show is the biggest country jamboree of the season. This double bill will be much more rewarding. Sure, Keith can be a flag-waving bully. But he's also an underrated songsmith with disarming wit. And Lambert's barn-burning Crazy Ex-Girlfriend sounds like the country album of the year. At the Tweeter Center.
White Stripes July 27After taking a break with the Raconteurs, Jack White is color-coordinated again with his make-believe sister Meg, bringing the heavy rock thunder on Icky Thump, due June 19. And in keeping with their unpredictable ways, the Stripes' only area appearance is in Delaware, allowing for a little tax-free shopping before the show. At the Wilmington Grand Opera House.
The Warped Tour Aug. 3The traveling punk-rock day camp annually offers more bang for the buck than any other festival, with scads of fast and furious bands aspiring to be the next Green Day, or failing that, Fall Out Boy. This year's highlights include Bad Religion, K-OS, Cute Is What We Aim For, Killswitch Engage and Philadelphia's own Starting Line. At the Tweeter.
Beyoncé Aug. 10Whether in real life or Dreamgirls, Ms. Knowles' destiny has always been to be a solo superstar. Now that the alpha female has put her girl group behind her (at least until the inevitable reunion), she's back in the spotlight alone, where she belongs. Last year's B'day was uneven, but exerted itself as a commercial force with the unstoppable "Irreplaceable" single. At Wachovia Center.
Kelly Clarkson Aug. 14The original American Idol champ has become the most credible and legitimate pop star to emerge from Idol. The Entertainment Weekly cover girl is on tour in support of her new album, My December (due June 25), which is being hyped as her songwriting breakthrough and has produced a decent rocked-out single in "Never Again." At the Wachovia.
Rufus Wainwright Aug. 17On Release the Stars, his first album in three years, Wainwright delivers the lushly orchestrated operatic goods. The 33-year-old pianist has developed into a flamboyant entertainer, as the coming DVD of his 2006 re-creation of a classic Judy Garland concert will no doubt attest. At the Mann.
Ozzfest Aug. 22
The brainchild of Sharon Osbourne is causing buzz because her headlining hubby, Ozzy, has a new album out - the cheerily titled Black Rain - and because this year, the black leather metal fest, which also features Static X and Hatebreed, is trying out a new music-business touring model: It's free, with the cost of admission footed by corporate sponsors. At the Tweeter.