33 spots to get your rock on in Philly

Published on : Tuesday, December 22, 2015

unnamedWith dozens of venues cultivating and showcasing live music throughout Philadelphia, it’s no wonder that Jay Z chooses Philadelphia as the location for his two-day Made In America music festival each year. The city has played host to major music festivals in the past, including Live Aid in 1985 and Live 8 in 2005. And it has produced major artists such as Chubby Checker, Hall & Oates and Patti LaBelle, and more recently, The Roots, Will Smith, Pink, Circa Survive, The Dead Milkmen, Chill Moody and Kurt Vile. Here’s a look at where these musicians are getting their start or showing the world that they’ve made it:


All That Jazz:


Hosting live jazz performances every night except Sundays, Chris’ Jazz Cafe offers drink specials, discounts for college students and multiple sets a night, making it a great place to take in local and touring jazz musicians.

Stepping through the doors of Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe transports patrons to the City of Lights in the 1930s. Open from Thursdays through Sundays, the Chestnut Hill spot hosts local musicians playing jazz standards or songs from the Great American Songbook. Also on offer: a full menu of classic French food and drinks.

More of a performance space and educational center than a club or lounge, the Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz aims to promote jazz—past, present and future—with workshops, classes, private lessons and, of course, concerts. 738 S.

Sure, Relish may be known for its Southern cuisine and politician patrons, but it’s also known for live jazz. Two shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights feature local musicians who hold the art form in high reverence.

The same family that owns Warmdaddy’s, Relish and Paris Bistro recently opened South on North Broad Street. Those looking to fill their ears as well as their stomachs do well in this intimate jazz parlor that seats around 70, features live music six nights a week and dishes out southern favorites. 600 N. Broad Street, (215) 600-0220, southrestaurant.net
Even in its stylish waterfront location, Warmdaddy’s has a down-home vibe, a down-home Southern menu and a get-down lineup of national jazz, blues and R&B artists every night.

Alternative Music At Alternative Venues:


In the space formerly known as Starlight Ballroom, District N9ne caters to show-goers who enjoy moving to electronic dance music (EDM) DJs or rocking out to heavy metal bands. Top-notch sound and lighting guarantee an awesome experience for all ears present.

Church isn’t just for Sundays anymore. Courtesy of R5 Productions, the basement hall of the First Unitarian Church transforms into an all-ages venue where local and touring bands playing indie rock, punk and independent hip-hop perform on occasion. The venue is an actual religious sanctuary built in 1886, but the congregation is not affiliated with the concerts. Sometimes R5 even rents out the chapel or main sanctuary for more intimate, seated shows. 2125 Chestnut Street, r5productions.com

Kung Fu Necktie, located right under the Market-Frankford El train, brings in local and touring indie, hardcore, punk and metal acts to entertain music lovers who prefer to see their favorite artists in an intimate setting.

In the heart of University City lives The Rotunda, an alcohol-free and admission-free  community for world music, soul, hip-hop, rock, jazz, experimental and other types of music. When bands aren’t playing, the socially conscious venue attracts crowds for movie screenings; dance, spoken-word and theatrical performances; art exhibits, classes, workshops; and youth programs.

Tucked into the city’s burgeoning Eraserhood sits Underground Arts, a lower-level space thatcaters to an artistic and creative crowd. The genres of live music run the spectrum, which is one of Underground Art’s greatest assets.

Local and touring indie, punk, hardcore and hip-hop acts take to the acoustically awesome stage at the ultra-spacious Union Transfer, a scalable capacity room that can hold from 500-1,200 people depending on the stage configuration.

More Than Just A Bar:


The sign outside Boot & Saddle hung dormant for decades, but with a power partnership behind it, the renovated restaurant and live music venue reopened its doors again in fall 2013. Keeping the aesthetic of its previous incarnation as the city’s only country bar, the venue showcases local and national acts of all genres that perform most nights of the week in this small room. The venue is also a restaurant and bar.

It’s no secret that many musicians are also employed in the food service industry. Bourbon and Branch Restaurant and Bar combines both passions in a rustic setting. A number of musicians staff the restaurant, serving up a full menu of salads, sandwiches and entrees. On most nights, patrons can listen to jazz, indie rock, cabaret and other genres upstairs.

Music lovers at The Fire, the snug venue and bar in Northern Liberties, enjoy emerging indie rock bands, folk shows and hip-hop CD-release parties. On Mondays, they can take to the stage during free open-mic nights. 412 W.

Mark Bee of Silk City and N. 3rd fame purchased lesbian bar Sisters and reopened it as Franky Bradley’s. The two-story venue boasts a 300-person performance space that hosts a varied lineup of acts, including jazz, rock and burlesque. Downstairs patrons enjoy a full menu of appetizers, sandwiches and entrees.

Hipsters rejoice at Fishtown’s landmark venue Johnny Brenda’s, where the stage is rarely empty and where pint glasses are always filled. Past headliners include Sufjan Stevens, Wire, Grizzly Bear and Jim James. Other JB highlights: an all-local, all-draft beer list and a popular restaurant on the first floor that serves food until 1:00 a.m.—perfect for a post-show bite and brew. Fun fact: This popular spot made an appearance in Creed, the seventh installment in the Rocky franchise. 1201 N.

MilkBoy treats music fans to a food and drink menu that’s as creative as its lineup of up-and-coming and below-the-radar bands. Largely fashioned from reclaimed materials, the eco-aware, bi-level spot amuses visitors with three funky can crushers for recycling and, of course, live performances almost every night of the week. 1100 Chestnut Street, (215) 925-MILK (6455), milkboyphilly.com

In Northern Liberties, Ortlieb’s stages a variety of live music, ranging from rock to jazz to funk; offers weeknight happy hours; and serves a menu of Mexican favorites. Monthly themed DJ nights on Fridays and Saturdays keep things fresh.

An eclectic mix of jazz, indie, acoustic, fusion, electronic and other genres make up the music menu at Time, a three-room restaurant-whiskey bar-music lounge that attracts a crowd as diverse as the lineup. The Sunday Jazz Soup open-jams and live music seven days a week makes Time a favorite home for local musicians.

It may seem out of place on 2nd Street, but the intimate setting of the Tin Angel above Serrano is a haven for those who enjoy a wide variety of genres, including singer-songwriter performances. The acoustics of the room please even the choosiest of audiophiles.

Just below popular indoor beer garden Brü sits U-Bahn, where the focus is all local all the time: local music, local beers, local eats. Rock bands and singer/songwriters perform two to three days a week, and arcade games are available for playing daily.
Playing To The Balcony:


One of the larger venues in Philadelphia, the Electric Factory draws national acts that attract crowds to the 2,600-person-capacity room. Standing room at stage level is typically all-ages, while a balcony with unbeatable views and a full bar accommodates the 21+ crowd. Past headliners include David Bowie, Coldplay and Jay Z. 421 N.

Philadelphia’s newest music venue, The Fillmore Philly offers several spaces for shows by local, national and international acts. The 2,500-person-capacity main room boasts unbeatable sight lines, while The Foundry serves as a 450-person club within the club for more intimate concerts and DJ events. The Ajax Bar serves libations before, during and after shows, and Wolfgang Puck provides food and drink throughout the venue. 29 E. Allen Street,
The smallest large venue in Philadelphia, the TLA offers concertgoers a more personal environment in which to enjoy well-known metal , hip-hop , punk  and pop bands. The venue features two bars, a snack stand and a 21+ mezzanine.
The ever-versatile Trocadero Theatre in Chinatown gives fans the chance to attend shows both large and small. The main room accommodates up to 1,200 ticket holders, while the smaller room holds 250 for shows by international bands, hip-hop artists and indie rockers.
World Cafe Live serves up the perfect marriage of food, drinks and live music. The upstairs space houses a full-service restaurant with live eclectic music most nights of the week. The downstairs music hall offers food service for a larger crowd and hosts well-known bands. Most shows are all ages unless otherwise noted.



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