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Nightlife & Music

Top Venues For Open Mics In Philadelphia

September 26, 2010 2:48 PM

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Time (credit: www.timerestaurant.net)
Whether you’re an aspiring artist or just looking for live music with your beer, Philly’s open mic scene can keep you busy seven nights a week. For musicians, the top open mics are a chance to network and test new songs before a big gig. For the less musically-inclined, this list is the best way to sample local talent without paying a cover. - Peter Marinari

World Cafe Live

3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 222-1400
www.worldcafelive.com

When To Go: Mondays @ 6:30pm

World Cafe Live’s Monday Philly Rising open mic draws droves of songwriters from around the region each week. Initially popular because it offered prizes to the best acts, now World Cafe has an established rep for great sound and top-notch talent. WCL is a huge room that gives musicians space to mingle and it features favorite acts in a monthly showcase. Spectators benefit from brevity: artists deliver just one or two songs each and hosts keep things moving. It’s not unusual to hear more than 20 acts in one outing!

Time

1315 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 985-4800
http://www.timerestaurant.net/

When To Go: Tuesdays @ 9pm

The Tuesday open mic at Time is the city’s best for spectators thanks to its roomy wine bar and killer beer list. For musicians, Time has an inviting bohemian air that’s unmatched by other rooms in Philly. The vibe seems to rub off on the players — no matter how amateur the performer, singers at Time very rarely suck. Though the open mic has a cast of regulars, new artists receive the same welcome as veterans. The combination of the bar and the friendly atmosphere means Time is one of the best open mics to hit with a gang of friends, whether you plan to play or just listen.

Fergie’s

1214 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 928-8118
www.fergies.com

When To Go: Mondays @ 9pm

The long-standing Monday open mic upstairs at Fergie’s is the undisputed heavy-weight of the Philly open mic scene. Upstairs at Fergie’s is a small room with an even smaller bar, which means this open mic is more for musicians than spectators. Each year regular players graduate to playing their own shows, but they keep coming back. That quality can make it daunting to play for the first time – it can be hard to sign up for a good spot thanks to the regular crowd. Persistence pays off: after playing two or three times newbies can find themselves fronting a late-night pick-up band of Fergie’s all-stars.

Milkboy Coffee Ardmore

2 East Lancaster Avenue
Ardmore, PA 19003
(610) 645-5269
milkboycoffee.com

When To Go: Tuesdays @ 6pm

Milkboy Coffee Bryn Mawr

824 West Lancaster Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(610) 527-0690
milkboycoffee.com

When To Go: Wednesdays @ 6:30pm

Both Milkboys host great early-evening open mics. Since Milkboy is a coffee shop, this night comes without the background chatter of a bar. That means it can be a little less fun to attend as a spectator, but for songwriters it’s unmatched in being the best place to work out the kinks in new material.

Downey’s

526 S Front Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147
215-625-9500
www.downeysrestaurant.com

When To Go: Mondays @ 9:30pm

If you like your open mics low-key, Downey’s is the spot for you. The lack of a stage keeps things humble, so this night of music is friendly and diva-free. For spectators, Downey’s never stops being a solid Irish Pub (with a new brick oven for pizza). However, low-key also means low-pressure so you might hear a few singers who should have stayed in the shower.

Triumph Brewery

117 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-625-0855
www.triumphbrewing.com/philadelphia/

When To Go: Sundays @ 8pm

Sunday night open mics are an increasing trend in Philly and Triumph Brewery is the leader of the pack. Triumph is a fantastic bar with a list of in-house micro brews and a full dinner menu, which makes it one of the few open mics with a regular crowd of spectators. Add to that solid sound and a prompt 8pm start time, and artists have every reason to spend their Sunday nights at Triumph.

Peter Marinari is a Philly-based singer-songwriter and half of the indie-pop duo Arcati Crisis. He is the author of Philadelphia’s longest-running blog, Crushing Krisis.

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