Beginner’s Guide to Philly Music Venues

Philadelphia’s well- (and not as well) known live music venues

Outdoor photo of The Mann Center on a sunny day
Photo: J.R. Blackwell

The 2022 live music and event calendar is rapidly filling up with artists from all over the world. We thought this would be an excellent opportunity to offer a refresher on some of Philadelphia’s well- (and not as well) known live music venues.

Johnny Brenda’s

1201 Frankford Ave.
Capacity 250

JB’s is a triple threat (restaurant, bar and live stage), not to mention that the clutch Fishtown location makes a visit there the perfect opportunity to make a day of it or extend festivities well into the night. The upstairs venue is a smaller room with a balcony level that hugs the stage, making it the perfect place to see a band in a more intimate setting. Unless you hide behind the wall or stay at the bar, there’s no bad view of the show.

Underground Arts

1200 Callowhill St.
Capacity 650

Underground Arts is a two-room, 12,000 square foot, subterranean space that facilitates everything from art exhibitions and DJ sets to poetry readings and live music. Parking can sometimes be difficult, but UA is a fantastic place for smaller shows. There are some obstructed views, but the cavernous layout of the room carries the sound to every corner with little to no noise reduction. Also, the bottled beer selection is surprisingly eclectic — if that’s your thing.

TLA (Theatre of the Living Arts)

334 South St.
Capacity 1,000
The TLA is located on the busiest stretch of South Street, which often makes parking a nightmare. Despite that, this historic venue is one of the best rooms in Philadelphia. The size makes it the perfect stop for bands that are on the precipice of hitting super big or usually only tour as openers for massive arena shows. Bonus, the general admission space sports a slight incline towards the back of the room, giving those more likely to gravitate to the back a better chance at unobstructed views.

Union Transfer

1026 Spring Garden St.
Capacity 1,200
This North Philly venue has had many lives, most notably that of the Spaghetti Warehouse, but for over a decade it’s been a favorite concert spot. UT sports two levels, three bars and many prime spots to post up and enjoy a show (my favorites being the stage right landing, front of the rail, or at the center bar next to the sound/light technician). UT is a grounded, repurposed space in the service of art. Not many things are more Philly than that.

Franklin Music Hall

421 N. 7th St.
Capacity 2,500
Formerly the Electric Factory, Franklin Music Hall has an open warehouse vibe, broken up by second-floor landings that frame the general admission area with a bar and stadium-style seating. Pro-tip: you get the best sound quality on the first floor, but better views from above, so choose your concert spot wisely.

The Fillmore Philadelphia/Foundry

29 E. Allen St.
Capacity 2,500/450
The Fillmore Philadelphia opened in Fishtown in 2015 and very quickly became a go-to live music destination. The industrial space has five bars, two levels, VIP service, an incredibly spacious GA area and its own club/smaller venue inside called the Foundry. The Fillmore is effectively a twofer for music lovers — a bar-style small club and a larger spectacle stage all under one roof.

The Tower Theater

S. 69th St. & Ludlow St.
Capacity 3,100
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more musically historic space in Philadelphia than The Tower Theater. Built in 1927 as a movie house, it was refurbished into a concert venue in 1972 and has since hosted some of the most high-profile and culturally relevant acts of the last 100 years. The acoustics are fantastic, and even though purchasing an assigned seat might sound appealing, taking the GA option is the way to go. Few things beat the pit floor at the Tower, sound- and view-wise.

The Met Philadelphia

858 N. Broad St.
Capacity 3,500
At the end of 2018, the 100-year-old Metropolitan Opera House reopened as The Met with the goal of becoming Center City’s premier music venue. The opera house aesthetic and seating are maintained with boxes, a balcony and a mezzanine, while the floor level has been turned into a giant general admission area with rows of seats underneath the Mezz. It’s a fantastic layout that thematically mixes the historic and experiential aspects of the city.

The Mann Center

5201 Parkside Ave.
Capacity 14,000
Consisting of two different venues (TD Pavilion and Skyline Stage), The Mann Center is probably the most versatile venue in Philadelphia. The whole family can attend an indoor/outdoor live film score performance with The Philly POPS, or just the adults can enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two with their favorite jam band at the Skyline Stage. The event schedule is always inclusive and on-point.

 

This is in no way a comprehensive list of concert venues in Philadelphia (or the surrounding area). But no matter where your ticket takes you, be sure to grab your earplugs, respect your surroundings and support live music!

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