One of the great things about a large city like Philadelphia is its diversity. It’s not just the sea of faces, places and things but the music created within the city of brotherly love and sisterly affection. It is where a simple musician can — and will — make it big through hard work and determination. Regardless of what genre tickles your ear buds, this city is large enough to be built on rock ‘n’ roll and then some. Here are the top five places to discover new music in the city.
The Grape Room
105 Grape St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
It seems the rule of Philadelphia is all musicians end up at the Grape Room. Originally on Grape Street with a stint on Main Street and then back to the original setting, the Grape Room is back in full effect. There is no prejudice here when it comes to musical taste;
everyone is welcome. With reggae, rap, hip-hop, hardcore, rock and roll and an open mic night Monday, this place has it all. Expect a bartender who frequently wears a “Cover Bands Suck” T-shirt, so you know originality takes center stage. Not only that, but the owner, the elusive Scooter, can sometimes be seen on stage jamming on drums with his own band.
304 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Another resurrection of a music venue, Dobbs shines brightly on the eclectic South Street once again. This place can be a little gruff at times but that adds to the appeal of this mostly hardcore club. With an upstairs area and open window seating looking outside, sometimes you don’t have to pay the cover to get in and can enjoy the music wafting through the air alongside some local grease pit. Bong Hits for Jesus seem to be a local fixture as well as Ike’s crew with open mic nights. One of the most brilliant ideas Dobb’s has had is making an annual Peter Steele memorial concert. As well as surprising headlining acts appearing occasionally like Fog from the Trees.
Kung Fu Necktie
1250 N. Front St.
Philadelphia, PA 19122
Don’t worry, it only looks sketchy from the outside. To find truly great music, one must explore all possibilities. Surprisingly this place can really rock. With a nice selection of craft beers, rare Japanese bands, 100-person capacity and random-looking people, it is sure to be a good show. The Tough Shits play there and offer — as you can imagine — satirical rock for the blackened hearted. With most of the band names sounding like complete gibberish, visiting the website and hearing some samples first before delving in is a good plan. Or, throw caution to the wind and gamble; you may find your new favorite band.
2639 Poplar St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Try this Fairmount/Art Museum hole in the wall, dive bar venue on for size. A huge hit for 20 to 30 year olds, this bar showcases indie bands, quizzo night and a whole list of upcoming shows. Known for a stellar happy hour with half-priced drafts, mussels and appetizers, it may be worth a trip before your musical spirit melts away. This is the bar to hit if you just don’t know what you’re feeling and what to try something new without blowing money on show tickets.
Johnny Brenda’s Upstairs
1201 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
On random Sundays this bar has a small orchestra play upstairs. It’s very random at this beloved bar and restaurant. Anything off the menu, whether it is music, food or booze, is quite amazing here. Unfortunately a lot of folks don’t make it upstairs due to the steep cover charges. But once you’re up there, it is truly a musical oasis. You’re likely to catch undiscovered talent at this bar. Local and national music acts are booked daily and with careful, crafted selection. Expect to be impressed and to come back for more.