Looking at April’s quickly-filling, post-pandemic, diverse musical live performance calendar in Philadelphia, it’s become apparent that its best and boldest artists are women.
Here is April’s Top Ten list of the women to watch and hear at full volume.
April 8 – Bitch @ PhilaMOCA
Though best-known for her portion of the queer folk duo Bitch & Animal, her time acting in Hedwig co-creator John Cameron Mitchell’s film ‘Shortbus’, and for having her songs featured on ‘The L Word’, Bitch is a commodity best served solo, live and in-your-face. And for 2022, that means a moody, caustic and politicized new album, ‘Bitchcraft’ on the Kill Rock Stars label. Featuring big dollops of her usual, patented wild violin sound and literary-laced lyrics, the “witchy poet pop” of ‘Bitchcraft’ is given a more layered production vibe than usual courtesy the talents of Anne Preven (Beyonce, Demi Lovato) and Roma Baran (Laurie Anderson). For additional lyrical edge, Faith Soloway (a writer on ‘Transparent’) co-wrote some of ‘Bitchcraft’s songs. Expect mayhem.
April 10 – Waxahatchee @Union Transfer
Centered in a literal and figurative fashion by the deeply emotive, soft-voiced singing and songwriting of Katie Crutchfield, the five albums produced by Waxahatchee within this decade – ‘American Weekend’ (2012), ‘Cerulean Salt’ (2013), ‘Ivy Tripp’ (2015), ‘Out in the Storm’ (2017) and ‘Saint Cloud’ (2020) – act as a catalog of self-knowledge and self-reliance. By the time you get to ‘Saint Cloud’, it is Crutchfield’s determination through the mess of recovery that emboldens this catalog, making it something of a life lesson for all those who struggle with any addiction or wrestle with any hard-to-break obsession. With that, Waxahatchee isn’t just good. She’s good for you.
April 16-17 – Paula Holloway @ South Jazz Parlor
The Philadelphia church vocalist and stage actress is a legend for her work in theater with events such as The Gospel at Colonus and her work on ‘The Wiz’. Now, the booming-voiced local singer is working a new brand (Inspirational Fusion: Where Jazz Meets Gospel – An Amazing Grace) and bringing the boom-and-nuance to the South Parlor on North Broad for the sake of soul and salvation.
April 17 – Cat Power @ Theater of Living Arts
Post-punk and quirky blues icon Chan Marshall – Cat Power to you – makes wise, wearied, incendiary vocal music that bleeds and leads. And for someone whose own writings tend to be her most ferocious, it is as her role as an interpretive indie-Billie-Holiday that is most fascinating. Presently three deep on the covers album tip (her newest one being 2022’s ‘Covers’), Cat Power woozily and bluesily appropriates songs such as Frank Ocean’s ‘Bad Religion’ and Lana Del Rey’s ‘White Mustang’ as her own. Fierce.
April 18 – Charl XCX @ The Fillmore Philly
Is Charli XCX a darkly nuanced and artsy mourner of lost romance or a primary colored disco diva looking for a good time in dancing and flash? Does she have to be just one? On her brand new 2022 album ‘Crash’ (yet another record where a pop star is involved in a blood-letting on its cover a la The Weeknd) Charli XCX focuses on her pure pop light show vibe with just a hint of black celebration for edge.
April 18 – Latto @ Theater of Living Arts
Wow. Here is a name you sadly don’t here enough of: sensational ATL-based Queen Of Da Souf rapper Latto. She’s dropped a few viral freestyles with Funk Flex and appeared on the soundtrack for Halle Berry’s ‘Bruised’ and ‘Fast & Furious 9’, but it is not until this week that Latto has drooped a new album (‘777’ via RCA Records), paired up with big rap names such as 21 Savage, Lil Wayne and Donald Glover’s hip hop alter ego Childish Gambino, and gone on a large-scale tour. Miss this gig at your peril.
April 19 – Juana Molina @ World Café Live
Once upon a time, before the brassiness of reggaeton and Latin trap topped the charts and took up all the air of music’s mainstream, the sensitive subtleties of Buenos Aires, Argentina-native singing songwriting producer Juana Molina was a breath of fresh, chronic folktronica air. Go back to gentle albums such as ‘Rara’ (1996) and ‘Segundo’ (2000) or fast forward to experimental fare such as ‘Halo’ (2017) and her most recent ‘Forfun’ (EP) (2019): Molina’s is a world of wonder, avant-Argentinian layered loops of acoustic and electronic sounds, and more.
April 20 – Lorde @ The Met Philly
Once a proponent of gauzy, haunting, even dramatic dream pop, the New Zealand singer-songwriter and indie-electro artist usually inspired by David Bowie (see ‘Royals’) found the sunshine during the pandemic. Her 2021 album ‘Solar Power’ is more and flaky folky melodies and dippy lyricism than we expect from Lorde, but how long can she keep that up? I bet not for the entirety of a whole show.
April 21 – Gosia Julia Maj @Chris Jazz Café
The harmony-heavy jazz vocalist and multi-instrumentalist from Wroclaw, Poland hooks up with the equally foreign intriguing Amsterdam Collective for her second shot at Chris and Philly, her home-away-from-home from her time studying at the University of the Arts.
April 22 – Suzanne Vega @ Colonial Theatre
Forever the high-water mark of folksy cabaret pop and forlorn post-Lou Reed lyricism, Vega is currently on tour for her tall tale telling 2020 album, ‘An Evening of New York Songs and Stories’, and the film version of her one woman show about Southern Gothic author Carson McCullers, ‘Lover, Beloved’. Between the sinister rolling hills of Southern Gothic-ism and the noir-ish streets of Manhattan as Vega’s topic, expect madness and bad moods sung lushly.