Philadelphia’s Live Music Scene Sounds So Good
As the name implies, Time Restaurant, Whiskey Bar and Taproom offers three concepts at one address. Located on Sansom Street just off of Broad Street, the dining room features live music, while upstairs DJs spin old and new favorites at the Parisian-style club on Fridays and Saturdays. The Whiskey Lounge offers a comfortable setting to watch sporting events and enjoy snacks.
Credit: Photo by A. Ricketts for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
Venues Large & Small Attract All Genres of Musicians
PHILADELPHIA, January 11, 2018 – Renowned for its live music scene, Philadelphia’s vibrant rock, rap, jazz and pop venues showcase the world’s most buzzed-about musicians. It’s no surprise: Philly is where The Roots, Pink, McCoy Tyner, Meek Mill, Santigold, Cayetana, Jill Scott, Christian McBride, The War on Drugs all came up. It’s also the site of Jay Z’s Made in America festival. Here’s a look at places to catch the latest, greatest live music performances in Philadelphia:
- Chris’ Jazz Café – The longest-operating jazz club in Philly hosts live jazz six nights a week. Performances by local, national and international artists accompany an all-day menu of lunch and dinner, punctuated by a popular happy hour. Chris’ stays open until 2 a.m. and is closed Sundays.
- Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe – Seven nights a week, this Chestnut Hill spot hosts local musicians playing jazz standards and songs from the Great American Songbook. Also on offer: a full menu of classic French food and drinks.
- Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts – This performance space and educational center promotes jazz—past, present and future—with workshops, classes, private lessons and concerts.
- Relish – Southern cuisine and politician patrons are Relish’s signatures, but the West Oak Lane hotspot is also a destination for live jazz three nights a week. Two shows each Thursday, Friday and Saturday feature local musicians who hold the art form in high reverence.
- SOUTH – This restaurant and jazz club is the latest venture of the Bynum family, owners of Warmdaddy’s, Relish, Paris Bistro and the former Zanzibar Blue. The intimate space seats around 70 for live music six nights a week and new Southern cuisine.
- Warmdaddy’s – A stylish waterfront venue and down-home vibe match Warmdaddy’s Southern menu and nightly lineup of national jazz, blues and R&B artists. Cover charge varies.
Alternative Music Venues:
- District N9ne – In the old Starlight Ballroom, this destination is known for electronic dance music (EDM) DJs and Latin music. Topnotch sound and lighting guarantee an awesome experience for all ears present.
- First Unitarian Church – In a religious sanctuary built in 1886, locally based R5 Productions’ puts on all-ages concerts featuring local and touring bands playing indie rock, punk and, on occasion, independent hip-hop. On occasion, intimate, seated shows take place in the chapel or main sanctuary.
- Kung Fu Necktie – Fishtown below the Market-Frankford El train is the hiding place for this intimate destination for local and touring indie, hardcore, punk, hip-hop, metal acts and DJ parties on the weekends.
- The Rotunda – University City’s alcohol-free and admission-free (unless otherwise noted) community hosts world music, soul, hip-hop, rock, jazz, experimental and other types of music. When bands aren’t playing there, the socially conscious venue attracts crowds for movies; live dance, spoken-word and theater; art exhibits, classes, workshops; and youth programs.
- Underground Arts – Tucked into the city’s burgeoning Eraserhood, this lower-level space caters to a creative crowd. One of the venue’s greatest assets: genres of live music that run the spectrum—performers in the 600-person capacity venue have included Lil Dicky and Anthony Green and international acts such as Eagles of Death Metal and Mac Demarco.
- Union Transfer – Local and touring indie, punk, hardcore and hip-hop acts hit the stage at this Spring Garden venue, known for awesome acoustics stage and spacious, scalable capacity room that holds from 500 to 1,200 concertgoers.
Bars with Live Music:
- Boot & Saddle – What was once the city’s only country bar, long known for its Vegas-style neon sign that hung dormant for decades, has been restored and transformed into a popular restaurant and bar with local and national acts of all genres most nights of the week.
- Bourbon and Branch Restaurant and Bar – Musicians, comedians and artists are the staff at this Old City spot, which offers a full menu of salads, sandwiches and entrees in a rustic setting. On most nights, patrons can listen to jazz, indie rock, cabaret, hip-hop and other genres upstairs.
- The Fire – This snug Northern Liberties bar is the city’s oldest original music club, with the stage where John Legend started his career and Maroon 5, My Chemical Romance and Jason Mraz have played. The Fire showcases local, national and international indie rock, heavy metal and glam pop acts, as well as CD-release parties and the oldest continuously running free open mic on Mondays.
- Franky Bradley’s – Bar owner Mark Bee (of Silk City and N. 3rd) packed his tucked-away, two-story venue with a varied lineup of acts, including jazz, rock and burlesque. Downstairs patrons enjoy a full menu of appetizers, sandwiches and entrees. Upstairs, there is room for 300 to get down.
- Heritage – This new Northern Liberties spot offers another option to grab delicious food and see great bands under one roof. Heritage is closed on Mondays; every other night finds performances by local and up-and-coming acts; including Sundays: bluegrass brunch.
- Johnny Brenda’s – This former dive bar turned hip Fishtown landmark has a stage that’s rarely empty—and pint glasses that 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 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.
- MilkBoy – Two MilkBoy locations showcase up-and-coming and under-the-radar bands—and a food and drink menu that’s as creative as the lineups. Largely fashioned from reclaimed materials, the eco-aware spots amuse audiences with live performances nearly nightly.
- Ortlieb’s – Northern Liberties former jazz club now stages a variety of live rock music and serves a menu of Tex-Mex favourites.
- Time – This Midtown Village spot is known for its mix of jazz, indie, acoustic, fusion, electronic and other genres in a three-room restaurant-whiskey bar-music lounge that draws a diverse, music loving crowd seven night a week.
- U-Bahn – Below popular indoor beer garden Brü, this spot focuses on all local, all the time: local music, local beers, local eats.
Mid-to Large Music Venues:
- Electric Factory – One of the larger venues in Philadelphia draws national acts that attract crowds to the 2,600-person-capacity room. Standing room at stage level is typically all-ages; a balcony with unbeatable views and a full bar accommodates the 21+ crowd. Past headliners include David Bowie, Miley Cyrus and Jay Z.
- The Fillmore Philly – Philadelphia’s version of the famed San Francisco rock club offers several spaces for 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 parties. The Ajax Bar serves libations before, during and after shows, and Wolfgang Puck provides food and drink throughout the venue.
- Tower Theater – Although on the edge of city limits, this venue has spent decades in the middle of the local music. Opened as a movie house in 1927, converted into a concert hall in 1972, the Tower blends old-world aesthetics with amazing acoustics—and has played an integral role in the careers of Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie, with later performances from the likes of Lauryn Hill, Kanye West, and Arcade Fire.
- TLA – The largest small venue in Philadelphia offers concertgoers a more personal environment in which to enjoy well-known metal (Cannibal Corpse), hip-hop (Lil Pump), punk (NOFX) and pop (Andy Grammar) bands. The venue features two bars and a 21+ mezzanine.
- Trocadero Theatre – This ever-versatile former vaudeville house in the heart of Chinatown gives fans the chance to attend shows both large and small. The Troc’s 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 – The brick-and-mortar outpost of the University of Pennsylvania’s indie radio station serves food, drinks—and live music. Upstairs houses a full-service restaurant with eclectic tunes most nights of the week. The downstairs music hall offers food service for a larger crowd and hosts well known bands.
- Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts – The modern anchor of the Avenue of the Arts has a dual role. It’s the center of a cultural campus that includes the Merriam Theater and the Academy of Music, which, together, form a trio of presenters of live musical theater, dance, jazz, classical and popular performances for broad and diverse audiences. It’s also the performance home of eight esteemed resident companies: The Philadelphia Orchestra, Philly POPS®, Opera Philadelphia, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Pennsylvania Ballet, PHILADANCO and the Curtis Institute of Music. Kimmel Center.
- Wells Fargo Center – The South Philly home of the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, hosts big-name performers and accommodates sellout crowds. Billy Joel, The Rolling Stones, U2, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, Madonna, Elton John, Justin Timberlake and hometown favourite Pink have all made music here.
Outdoor Performance Spaces:
- Dell Music Center – Come spring and summer, this 5,200-person amphitheater in Fairmount Park is known for jazz, soul and hip-hop greats, from Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald to Jill Scott and Brian McKnight.
- Festival Pier – Penn’s Landing’s alfresco stage—home of late spring’s annual Roots Picnic—offers great talent, warm air and a relaxed vibe to create a distinct musical experience for the crowd and performers at this outdoor, waterfront venue.
- Mann Center for the Performing Arts – Founded as the summer home of The Philadelphia Orchestra, this open-air Fairmount Park venue presents a range of orchestral, pop, jazz and rock concerts, as well as arts education programs that focus on everything from dance to drumming.
- BB&T Pavilion – Just across the Delaware River in Camden, New Jersey, this laid-back, picturesque summertime amphitheater is perfect for enjoying Pearl Jam and Jimmy Buffett concerts. After dark, lawn-dwellers enjoy a breathtaking view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia city skyline.