Spring Forward into the Philly Music Scene

Where to Go?

First things first: You like music and you find yourself bored over the weekend. Don’t wait around for your favorite band to hit the scene. When I last wrote for the March edition, I urged you to set off into the Philly music scene and check out the Menzingers. I get it, not everyone is a punk rock kid; however, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for you to go in Philly to hear great music! I’ve been to far too many concerts in my days, so with my self-declared expertise I present to you a (semi-guaranteed) almost fool proof guide to concert success in Philly.

Picking your venue: This is may be the most important step, but oftentimes is not given any thought. Not every venue is going to be comfortable for everyone. Therefore, I’ve broken it down into three categories of venues for you to explore.

photo by Becky Helme

• Café Shows. These kinds of shows take place literally all over the city. They are the best if you are looking for a more relaxed environment. Sit back with friends, sip on some coffee, and hear some great music. Also, there is usually little to no cost for these shows, so it is perfect for a broke college student! Tip: Look for cafés and bars with open mic nights. At the risk of hearing some mediocre covers, you are likely to find some hidden gems in places like these.

In the City? Check out Fergie’s Pub (1214 Sansom Street). When looking for a good place for music in the city, all signs point to Fergie’s. Along with their traditional Irish pub fare and drinks, they have events every night of the week to ensure that you have a great time. From open mic nights every Monday at 9:00, to weekly trivia nights, blues bands, to traditional Irish music and more, this place is sure to please any music lover!

Need a Local Place? Check out Keswick Coffee House (285 North Keswick Avenue). If you don’t feel like venturing into the city, check out this small café only a few minutes away from the Arcadia campus. They hold their open mic nights Wednesdays at 9:00! If you’re a musician, contact them on their website (keswickcoffeehouse.com) to book a space. They also feature works by local artists, so stop by for a cup of coffee and a relaxed environment. There is no cover charge to check out the music (but bring some cash for drinks!) as well as free wifi, and as all college students know, free is good. Want to know more? Check out the video spotlight Loco Mag did here!

Concert Venues: Philly is a wonderful place for these *loud* venues that are specifically designed to hold a larger number of people who stand in front a larger scale stage. This kind of venue works best for those who don’t mind crowds and being close to others. The benefit of these venues is how close you can get to the stage (warning: if the artist you are seeing is popular make sure to get their early if you want to be close to the stage! These venues sell a lot of tickets and fill up very quickly). The tickets for shows at concert venues can run from $10-$40.

Check out: The Electric Factory (421 N. 7th Street). This is one of Philly’s best known concert venues for a reason. They are host to a wide variety of musical acts, from Snoop Dog to local bands, leading to a very diverse audience. They have new shows every week, so check out their calendar to see what is coming up. They are also a large venue, with a 21+ upstairs balcony. Tip: If you can get into the city, buy your tickets at the box office ahead of time. Yes, it takes some more time, but it’s an excuse to get out into Philly and you will be saved all of the servicing charges!

photo by Becky Helme

Or Check out: Theater of the Living Arts (334 South Street). Once an old movie house, the TLA converted and now serves as one of Philly’s most prominent small concert venues. Like the Electric Factory they host a variety of genres, and have shows almost every night. Tip: This place is right on South Street, so parking will be limited. Leave your car at home and take advantage of public transportation.

• Stadium Shows: For these shows, make sure you plan ahead. Of the three venues these are the most expensive and feature the most mainstream music. It’s a good place to go if you are looking for a seated venue where you can still rock out.

In Philly? Check out the Wells Fargo Center (3601 S. Broad Street). Not only is the Wells Fargo Center the place to see some of your favorite Philly sports teams, but also to catch the biggest acts around. For a stadium, it is smaller in size, but is still large enough for you to get the full “big concert” experience. Like all stadiums, the food tends to be pricey, so you may not want to rely on eating there. Tip: There will be a lot of people at these show, so be patient when it comes to transportation and give yourself time. If you rely on SEPTA, remember so do many others, so there will likely be quite the wait. However, there is a subway stop right at the venue! Otherwise, there are plenty of places to park (for a small fee, of course). Upcoming events include Aerosmith, LMFAO, and Madonna, so there is always variety. Stadium shows, unlike the other two venues, require quite a bit of planning. The thing with these mainstream artists is that everyone wants to go, so do not miss your chance by waiting on your tickets!

Now it’s your turn. Head off into the city and hit the scene. Philly has something to for everyone to enjoy! Do not let your journey end with my suggestions. Branch off and then comment below sharing your experience!

Is there a really awesome place that I did not include in my list? Share the fun and comment!


  • Bri Wink says:

    I really, really loved this list! It covered pretty much everything concert goers need to know. Personally, though, I love Trocadero. Since it’s super close to Market East, it’s got easy access to public transportation which is really nice because then you don’t have to worry about parking or walking ten blocks to the nearest station!

  • Becky says:

    Thank you! And surprisingly I have yet to venture to the Troc for an actual show. I’ll have to make my way over there soon haha

  • Ceres says:

    thanks for a great post and interesting comments. i found this post looking for information on philly venues, and it should help a lot when i move there next fall. Thanks!

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