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Best Live Philly Music Guide: Philadelphia

Best Live Philly Music Guide: Philadelphia

Best Live Philly Music Guide: Philadelphia

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Philadelphia, PA - Dozens of venues cultivate and showcase live music throughout Philadelphia. It’s no wonder: The birthplace of Gamble and Huff’s The Sound of Philadelphia, hometown of The Roots and chosen site for Jay Z’s Made in America festival has long been a proving ground for musicians of all genres.Philadelphia, PA - Dozens of venues cultivate and showcase live music throughout Philadelphia. It’s no wonder: The birthplace of Gamble and Huff’s The Sound of Philadelphia, the hometown of The Roots and chosen site for Jay-Z's Made in America festival has long been a proving ground for musicians of all genres.

Here’s a look at the places where visitors can see and hear music makers getting their start—or simply showing the city that they’ve made it:

Jazz Spaces:

  • 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. 1421 Sansom Street, (215) 568-3131, chrisjazzcafe.com
  • Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe transports patrons to the City of Lights in the 1920s. Open seven days a week; 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. 8229 Germantown Avenue, (215) 242-6200, parisbistro.net
  • Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts is more of a performance space and educational center than club or lounge. The aim here: Promote jazz—past, present and future—with workshops, classes, private lessons and, of course, concerts. 738 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-9912, clefclubofjazz.org
  • 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. 7152 Ogontz Avenue, (215), 276-0170, relishphiladelphia.com
  • South is a  jazz parlor—and the latest venture of the Bynum family, owners of Warmdaddy’s, Relish and Paris Bistro. The intimate space seats around 70 for live music six nights a week and traditional Southern fare. 600 N. Broad Street, (215) 600-0220, southrestaurant.net
  • Warmdaddy’s has a stylish waterfront location and a down-home vibe to match its Southern menu and a get-down lineup of national jazz, blues and R&B artists every night. While some nights require a cover charge, many do not. 1400 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 462-2000, warmdaddys.com

Alternative Music Venues:

  • District N9ne occupies the space formerly known as Starlight Ballroom, where it caters to show-goers who enjoy moving to electronic dance music (EDM) DJs or Latin music. Topnotch sound and lighting guarantee an awesome experience for all ears present. 460 N. 9th Street, (215) 769-2780, districtn9ne.com
  • First Unitarian Church—or, its basement, at least—has long been known for locally-based R5 Productions’ all-ages concerts featuring local and touring bands playing indie rock, punk and, on occasion, independent hip-hop. 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, in Northern Liberties below the Market-Frankford El train, brings in local and touring indie, hardcore, punk, hip-hop, metal acts, and DJ parties on the weekends to entertain music lovers who prefer to see their favorite artists in an intimate setting. 1250 N. Front Street, (215) 291-4919, kungfunecktie.com
  • The Rotunda, in the heart of University City, is an alcohol-free and admission-free (unless otherwise noted) community for 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. 4014 Walnut Street, therotunda.org
  • Underground Arts, tucked into the city’s burgeoning Eraserhood, is a lower-level space that caters to a creative crowd. One of the venue’s greatest assets: Genre of live music that runs the spectrum. 1200 Callowhill Street, undergroundarts.org
  • Union Transfer attracts local and touring indie, punk, hardcore and hip-hop act, thanks to its acoustically awesome stage and spacious, the scalable capacity room that holds from 500 to 1,200 concertgoers, depending on the stage configuration. 1026 Spring Garden Street, (215) 232-2100, utphilly.com

Bars with Live Music:

  • Boot & Saddle, once the city's only country bar, is known on its outside for a Vegas-style neon sign that hung dormant for decades. Inside, the small, restored and popular restaurant and bar showcase local and national acts of all genres most nights of the week. 1131 S. Broad Street, (267) 639-4528, bootandsaddlephilly.com
  • Bourbon and Branch Restaurant and Bar employs musicians as staffers and offers a full menu of salads, sandwiches, and entrees in a rustic setting. On most nights, patrons can listen to jazz, indie rock, cabaret and other genres upstairs. 705 N. 2nd Street, (215) 238-0660, bourbonandbranchphilly.com
  • The Fire, a snug venue and bar in Northern Liberties, invites music lovers to enjoy emerging indie rock bands, folk shows, and hip-hop CD-release parties. On free, open mic Mondays, audience members take to the stage. 412 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 671-9298, thefirephilly.com
  • Franky Bradley’s used the talents of bar owner Mark Bee (of Silk City and N. 3rd) to pack this 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. 1320 Chancellor Street, (215) 735-0735, frankybradleys.com
  • Johnny Brenda’s is a landmark among Fishtown hipsters. The former dive bar 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. 1201 N. Frankford Avenue, (215) 739-9684, johnnybrendas.com
  • MilkBoy has two locations that 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. t. 1100 Chestnut Street and 401 South Street, (215) 925-MILK (6455), milkboyphilly.com
  • Ortlieb’s in Northern Liberties stages, a variety of live rock music, offers weeknight happy hours and serves a menu of Mexican favorites. Monthly themed DJ nights on Fridays and Saturdays keep things fresh. 847 N. 3rd Street, (267) 324-3348, ortliebsphilly.com
  • Time offers an eclectic mix of jazz, indie, acoustic, fusion, electronic and other genres in a three-room restaurant-whiskey bar-music lounge that attracts a diverse crowd. Sunday Jazz Soup open jams and live music seven days a week makes this is a favorite among local musicians. 1315 Sansom Street, (215) 985-4800, timerestaurant.net
  • U-Bahn, below popular indoor beer garden Brü, focuses on all local, all the time: local music, local beers, local eats. Rock bands, DJs and singer/songwriters perform two to three days a week, and arcade games are available for playing daily. 1320 Chestnut Street, (215) 800-1079, ubahnphilly.com

Mid- to Large Music Venues:

  • Electric Factory, as 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, 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. 7th Street, (215) 627-1332, electricfactory.info
  • 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 sightlines, 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 drinks throughout the venue. 29 E. Allen Street, (215) 309-0150, thefillmorephilly.com
  • The TLA is the largest small venue in Philadelphia, offering concertgoers a more intimate environment in which to enjoy well-known metal (Ministry), hip-hop (Cypress Hill), punk (The Buzzcocks) and pop (The Starting Line) bands. The venue features two bars and a 21+ mezzanine. 334 South Street, (215) 922-1011, tlaphilly.com
  • Trocadero Theatre, the 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. 1003 Arch Street, (215) 922-6888, thetroc.com
  • World Cafe Live in University City serves up the perfect marriage of food, drinks, and live music. The upstairs space 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. 3025 Walnut Street, (215) 222-1400, worldcafelive.com

Major Venues:

  • The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts anchors the Avenue of the Arts. The modern venue has a dual role. It’s the performance home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Philly POPS®, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Pennsylvania Ballet, Curtis Institute of Music and PHILADANCO. It’s also the operator of the historic and nearby Merriam Theater and Academy of Music, which in turn, is home to Opera Philadelphia and Broadway Philadelphia. All three venues host all manner of smaller to major musical, dance, theatrical, comedic and other artful performances. Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad Street; Academy of Music, 240 S. Broad Street; Merriam Theater, 250 S. Broad Street, (215) 893-1999, kimmelcenter.org
  • The Wells Fargo Center, 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 favorite Pink have all made music here. 3601 S. Broad Street, (215) 336-3600, wellsfargocenterphilly.com

Outdoor Performance Spaces:

  • The Dell Music Center, a 5,000-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. Ridge Avenue & Huntingdon Drive, (215) 685-9564, mydelleast.com
  • Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing 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. Columbus Boulevard at Spring Garden Street, (800) 745-3000, festivalpierphilly.com
  • The Mann Center for the Performing Arts was founded as the summer home of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Today, the open-air venue in Fairmount Park presents a range of orchestra, pop, jazz and rock concerts, as well as arts programs that focus on everything from dance to drumming. 5201 Parkside Avenue, (215) 546-7900, manncenter.org
  • BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey on the Delaware River Waterfront, is just a ferry ride away. The laid-back atmosphere and picturesque outdoor amphitheater setting are perfect for Pearl Jam and Jimmy Buffett concerts. After dark, the lawn-dwellers enjoy a breathtaking view of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge and the Philadelphia city skyline. 1 Harbour Boulevard, Camden, NJ, (856) 365-1300, ticketmaster.com


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