A Guide to the Philadelphia Music Scene
The Fillmore Philadelphia's main space can hold up to 2,500 people | © Lisa Lake / Stringer / Getty Images
Whether you are looking to listen to jazz, rock, hip hop or EDM – Philadelphia has got you covered.
Philly has a diverse and thriving music scene, which is ideal when it comes to picking a few venues to hit while visiting. Don’t just stop at one, there are varied options all throughout the city across a breadth of neighborhoods. Many of these places aren’t only music venues but also stellar spots for food and drink – so whether you’re after dinner and dancing, brunch with bluegrass, or simply sipping a craft beer, there’ll be plenty to fill your belly.
Bar, American, French, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Heritage has live jazz music every night of the week, but come the weekend you can savor your eggs with a side of swinging tunes. On Saturdays you can enjoy brunch accompanied by live piano music, and Sundays the area’s best bluegrass bands play. The airy restaurant has a large outdoor patio with plenty of seating. Along with filling your ears with song you can fill your belly with eats from chef Mackenzie Hilton, who won season four of Chopped in 2010. Live jazz is every night, usually starting after 6pm, piano and bluegrass brunch starts at noon on the weekends.
You can’t miss the neon red sign that mounts the front of this two-story bar. The dimly lit yet warm interior is filled with quirky artwork and has a nostalgic feel. The second floor plays host to DJs, live music, cabaret acts and a full dance floor topped with a disco ball. There’s an act on nearly every night of the week. Downstairs, patrons can munch on a full menu while taking a breather. Franky Bardley’s is located on Chancellor Street and has a brick exterior.
Restaurant, American, Fast Food, $$$
This bar, restaurant and live music venue was created by Tommy Joyner and Jamie Lokoff, of the famous Milkboy Recording Studio (Justin Timberlake recorded Cry Me a River there. On the second floor this locale plays host to up and coming bands, as well as more well-known ones, performing almost nightly. Downstairs the metal and wood space has an extensive beer menu, as well as a food selection of snacks, salads and sandwiches. Happy hour is daily from 4pm to 7pm. Find it at the corner of Chestnut Street and S 11th St.
The Fillmore Philadelphia
Prior to its reincarnation as the Fillmore, Philly’s version of the San Francisco rock club, was previously the Ajax Metal Factory. Today it’s a concert venue that has three different spaces within it. The two-story main room holds 2,500 people with concrete touches, industrial vibes and imposing chandeliers hanging overhead. The 450 capacity Foundry, a club within the club, that focuses on local acts, singer-songwriters, DJs and smaller bands. Lastly, Ajax Hall, serves drinks before, during and after the show as well as food by Wolfgang Puck. The Fillmore is located in Fishtown at 29 E. Allen Street.
The Union Transfer building has been standing since the 1800s and the name is in honor of its former life as a railroad facility. It’s a fixture in the music scene, hosting a mix of indie rock, hip-hop, folk and electronic performers and bands. Known for its acoustics, the space holds up to 1,200 music lovers and has three bars. The venue is all-ages, so head upstairs to the balcony for a crowd of over 21-year-olds and to find a seat in the mostly standing room space. Union Transfer can be found on Spring Garden Street.
Bar, Restaurant, American, Beer, Pub Grub, $$$
On the second floor of this brick building you will come upon an intimate live music venue with space for 250 people. There is a handmade balcony overlooking the stage with a first-class sound system. This venue is noted for showcasing established and new local indie rock bands. The first floor is made up of a tavern in the front and a small dining room in the back. As well as showcasing local bands it also favors locally grown ingredients and craft beers. Food is served until 1am, perfect if you’ve worked up an appetite after listening to the evening’s performers. Located in trendy Fishtown at the intersection of Frankford and East Girard avenues, ticket purchases are cash only and made at the bar.
These recommendations were updated on July 1, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.