Being in a big city has its perks, and one of them is an abundance of live music. Most major acts and plenty of minor ones make stops in Philly. Here are a few of our favorite places to catch a show. – Ted Scheid
The Tower Theater
69th & Ludlow Sts
Upper Darby, PA 19082
While it’s not in Philadelphia proper, this list wouldn’t be complete without mention of The Tower. Since 1972, “Philly’s Fillmore” has been bringing a variety of live acts to the area, including Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Kanye West and Kings of Leon. The interior of the theater features a bar, two levels and classy red velour seats, and it’s literally a half-block walk up the street from the subway stop at 69th Street Terminal.
334 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
For those of us who have been in Philly for some time, The Filmore will always be known as the TLA. The name may have since changed, but the music remains. The sloped floor helps the height-challenged see, even from the back. For those over 21, head up to the balcony bar area and enjoy the show!
1026 Spring Garden St
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Though it’s located in a not-so-beautiful section of Spring Garden Street (inside the old Spaghetti Warehouse, RIP!), Union Transfer is pretty awesome. It’s a cavernous space with exposed beams and historical details you don’t usually find inside newer venues, plus two floors with a bar on each. If you’re a fan of lesser known indie bands, this is a great place to see and hear them. Bonus: The food selections here include freaky-fab Little Baby’s Ice Cream and veg “fast food” eatery Hip City Veg. Yum!
1201 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
When you enter the second floor of Johnny Brenda’s to see some of the best independent acts around, know one thing: it is cozy. For popular bands, you’re going to have your personal space violated, but that shouldn’t matter when you are rocking out. While you wait for the show to start, go downstairs and grab a bite to eat–the food’s delicious.
1248 North Front Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Kung-Fu Necktie has drinks and music. That’s it, and it’s perfect. The venue is small but nice, and the intimate stage is set up with a half-barrel ceiling–meaning you’re getting great sound while being close to the action. If the bands aren’t working for you, look to the back, and you may catch some obscure film on the bar television.
North Star Bar
2639 Poplar St
Philadelphia, PA 19130
The North Star Bar is one of the more bi-polar venues in the city. One half of the venue is a nice bar/restaurant with great food. But head through the doors in the back, and you’re met by live music on a decent-sized stage. Not too shabby for a little spot in the Fairmount/Brewerytown area.
1003 Arch St
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Right in the middle of Chinatown, you’ll find Philly’s famed Trocadero. One of the better spots for some of the larger acts, the Troc has plenty of space downstairs and some seating upstairs for those over 21. If you can’t get a seat on the balcony though, you may have a little trouble seeing the stage from the back. Oh, and on Mondays, you can catch a $3 movie with free popcorn!