Where to hear live music in Philly.
You won't hear the hottest new touring band at The Rotunda, and whatever you do hear, it won't have the state-of-the-art sound system that Philadelphia's larger venues offer.
What will you hear at the Rotunda? It's hard to say. Could be Middle Eastern drumming, freestyle rapping and breakdancing or teenage scream-rockers.
We told you a couple of years back about how popular Philadelphia tavern Johnny Brenda's was getting in the music game, and less than two years later, this place has firmly established itself as one of Philly's prime live music venues.
The Fishtown bar converted the second floor of a 19th Century building into an intimate live venue that brings out exuberant crowds for an almost-every-night schedule of indie bands. The focus is on local acts, but on occasion they bring in bigger bands (they've featured The National, Grizzly Bear and The Walkmen since opening). With a capacity of just 300, Johnny Brenda's is one of the most intimate venues many of these bands play.
For pre- and post-show fun, the ground floor bar serves hand-pumped local brews and a surprisingly upscale menu (think Littleneck clams; goat cheese, arugula, and watermelon salad).
· Johnny Brenda's [Official Site]
· PhillyStyle: Drinks, Music & Eye Candy at Johnny Brenda's [Jaunted]
· Philadelphia Music Venues Map [Jaunted]
· Philadelphia Travel coverage [Jaunted]
[Photo: Johnny Brenda's]
The Trocadero Theatre, a 138-year-old, 1,200-person Victorian venue, has gone through many incarnations in its time on Arch Street--hosting vaudeville, burlesque, movies and, since 1996, pop music.
"The Troc" has long been known as a place to discover local Philly bands, but as the surrounding Market East neighborhood has transformed into a more desirable location in recent years, the lineup has leaned towards national acts.
The still-quite-diverse list of upcoming shows includes everyone from dance pop duo Chromeo to Swedish heavy metal act Opeth and Bow Wow as Shad Moss. (Wait, Bow has yet another alternate persona?)
Local hipsters get more excited about low-key weekday activities at the Troc's smaller balcony space, including free movies on Mondays, along with Guitar Hero contests and $2 beers.
Set in the heart of Old City, The Khyber is one of Philly's longest-standing live music venues, and somehow has escaped morphing into a tourist trap, unlike most of its neighbors.
The laid-back dive bar is your best chance to catch a Philly band that will be famous a year from now, while many already-well-known local bands often return for the nostalgia factor. Upcoming shows range from local dance-rockers Fat City Reprise to indie rock vets Mock Orange and disco-punkers Electric Six.
For non-musical pursuits, the upstairs bar is open every night, with drinking specials that include $1 PBR until 11 pm and an open bar on Sundays for 10 bucks.
One of Philly's best mid-size concert venues, this (not-too) renovated movie theater is smack in the middle of South Street's always-on nightlife scene, and attracts an appropriately young and rowdy crowd.
Like a growing number of mid-size venues across the country, the 800-capacity Theater of the Living Arts has been recently acquired by Clear Channel spinoff Live Nation, much to the chagrin of local indie rock fans, but it should be noted that they haven't done much to corporate the place up as of yet.
In addition to local indie and hip-hop bands, upcoming shows at TLA include Ice Cube, Sonic Youth with The Hold Steady and "Crash" star Terrance Howard, who, if you didn't know, is apparently an "urban country" singer now.
Shows for national acts are often sold out, so it's a good idea to get tix beforehand.
For a city that's constantly trying to distinguish itself from NYC, it's unclear why Philadelphia went with the name The Manhattan Room for its newest hipster bar and music venue.
Whatever the reasoning, the spot has quickly established itself on the Philly music scene. Set in the increasingly hip-but-still a little sketchy Fishtown neighborhood, "The M-Room" is a new go-to spot for the city's indie rock fans.
The venue hosts live events every Tuesday through Sunday. The schedule is heavy on local acts like Johnny Action Figure and Red Ox, but also includes DJ dance nights, art openings and indie film screenings. In addition to a healthy roster of cheap brews, there's also a dinner menu of burgers, sandwiches and full plates.
[Photo: Tommy Draper]