12 Mar 2022

A Guide to Philadelphia’s Music Venues

A Guide to Philadelphia’s Music Venues

Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love, bringing millions of people to its streets for good food, incredible sights and a sense of community unlike other large cities. While Philly has many characteristics to adore, its music scene is something to note. The urban area is home to massive arenas that cater to global musicians and much more.

When you move to Philly, you have the chance to explore the vibrant music scene, from stunning historical theaters to small bars and clubs. With this guide, you can discover where to see live music in Philadelphia and enjoy the city’s dynamic arts culture.

Theaters and Large Venues

So, where are concerts held in Philadelphia? If this question is currently on your mind, we’ve got you covered. As a massive urban center, Philadelphia is home to many historic theaters and larger venues that offer character and diverse musical performances. You might be familiar with arena venues like the Wells Fargo Center, but there’s much more to the scene.

The Fillmore

The original Fillmore concert venue is located in San Francisco, where psychedelic musicians of the 60s and 70s found a springboard for their careers. The Fillmore in Philadelphia seeks to create the same type of space for music fans and artists, creating a space to share a love of the art.

The Fillmore opened in Fall 2015 with a performance from Philly natives Hall & Oates. Formerly the Ajax Metal Company, the building is over 100 years old and features a 25,000 square-foot space with excellent acoustics and sightlines. The venue is primarily standing room, and it has a capacity of 2,500. Unlike older clubs in the city, this venue is less prone to overcrowding.

In addition to the standing room, the venue offers premium seating designed for excellent stage views. You gain access to private parking and bar service along with a personal concierge. If you often see shows at the Fillmore, the VIP option can be an ideal way to enjoy your favorite musical artists.

One of the most notable features of this converted factory is the massive chandeliers that hang above the crowd. The stark industrial features contrasted by the glamour of the chandeliers create a thrilling venue for pop, rock and rap shows.

On top of the exciting concert experience, the Ajax Bar serves drinks before, during and after performances. Wolfgang Puck also provides food and beverages throughout the space so that you can satisfy any hunger during your show.

Ajax Hall also offers a fantastic catering space for anyone looking. They host parties as small as 25 and as large as 3,000, making the Fillmore far more than a live music venue.

Franklin Music Hall

Franklin Music Hall is most widely known as the Electric Factory. When it changed ownership in 2018, the name changed with it, but the venue’s popularity still stands. Located on 7th Street, the space attracts musical artists from all over. As one of the cities larger venues, it can host up to 2,500 people.

This space has hosted musical performances in the city for decades. The original Electric Factory was once a tire warehouse before it was converted to a club in the late 60s. The Electric Factory eventually moved to a new location where Franklin Music Hall now stands.

Franklin Music Hall is a cavernous space with a stage-level standing room for all ages. The balcony offers bars for anyone 21 and over, plus it gives your a fantastic view of the stage and the massive crowd below. The venue is general admission, so it’s best to get there early if you want a good view of the stage.

As one of Philly’s larger venues, Franklin Music Hall hosts musical artists from various genres. Whether you like hip hop, metal or indie pop, you can find a performance that represents your interests.

Theatre of Living Arts (TLA)

The Theatre of Living Arts, most commonly known as TLA, is a 30-year-old venue on Philly’s beloved South Street. Surrounded by excellent dining spots and independent shops, TLA offers a wide range of pre and post-show entertainment.

The venue’s long history started in 1908 when it was called the Crystal Palace. It’s been a prime location for opera performances, art films and weekly midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the 60s, the spot was a center for beatnik culture, and its since grown into one of the premier small venues in the city.

TLA has a 1,000-person capacity and hosts a music event almost every night. When you make a plan to see a show at TLA, you can enjoy art galleries, cheesesteaks and the diverse crowds of people that create the bustle on South Street.

Many of TLA’s shows are all-ages events, but they may have 21 and over shows occasionally. The venue has a standing room and some seating in its two-floor space. Both floors have a bar for those of the legal age. However, you must be 21 or older to access the second-floor bar behind the seated mezzanine.

While South Street gives you the chance to enjoy some of Philly’s most beloved restaurants before and after the show, you can also get snacks like popcorn at TLA’s concession stand. Regardless of the concert you see at the TLA, you’ll have a memorable show-going experience in the heart of Philadelphia.

World Cafe Live

World Cafe Live is located on Walnut Street near the Schuylkill River. This beloved venue started in 2004 with live music visionary Hal Real. Hal found himself disappointed by bad acoustics, limited seating and smoky rooms at some of Philly’s bar-type venues, and he wanted something different from the live music experience.

Around the same time, UPenn’s radio station, WXPN, was outgrowing its space. Their nationally syndicated show, World Cafe, brought a wide variety of music to people’s dorm rooms, cars and more, and Hal Real saw an opportunity. Together, they created World Cafe Live to create a virtual and physical experience for listeners.

The venue has two stages optimized for great views, sound and seating. Anyone can find a spot to enjoy a concert along with the food and drink they serve on-location. It’s a known spot for established indie acts and local musicians, so if you’re looking for a Downtown Philly music scene, World Cafe Live is the place to be.

A notable feature of World Cafe Live is its flexible seating options. The seating chart changes for every concert. You might find full seating, tables and chairs, standing room or a combination of seating and standing space. Almost all World Cafe Live shows are all-ages, but sometimes there may be a few exceptions.

If you’re looking for food during your time at World Cafe Live, they have a space called The Lounge. This area offers a rotating menu based on the event where you can find food and beverages to keep you fueled during a show. You can also reserve space at The Lounge prior to the concert so that you can sit down with a meal before your live music experience.

In addition to bringing live music to the people, World Cafe Live offers educational opportunities through music classes, in-school programs and local development projects. This venue is a pivotal part of Philly’s vibrant community and a fantastic experience for anyone in the city or from out of town.

Kimmel Center and the Academy of Music

While many of the concert venues in Philadelphia are general admission bars and clubs, the Academy of Music is a stunning theater located on Broad Street in the center of the city. Built in 1857, the Academy of Music is the oldest opera house in the United States still used for its original operatic purpose.

This venue was home to the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1900 until 2001. Today, it’s home to Opera Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Ballet. It was designated as a national landmark in 1962, and it’s earned the name the Grand Old Lady of Locust Street.

While the Academy of Music is known for more classical performances,  it also hosts touring Broadway shows, musicians, stand-up comedians and orchestras. The venue is also close to the Kimmel Center, which falls under the same cultural campus. This live music spot offers chamber music, jazz, orchestras and touring productions under a domed glass ceiling.

The Academy of Music offers classic theater seating with four levels of seating. The parquet is orchestra seating located closest to the stage. Above the parquet in order are the balcony, family circle and amphitheater. With a seating capacity of over 2,500, the Academy of Music is among Philly’s larger live music venues.

If you’re searching for places to see live music in Philly, the Kimmel Center and Academy of Music offer high-brow performances for a wide range of audiences. Whether you’re into musicals, comedy or classical music, there’s bound to be a show you can enjoy.

Small and Alternative Concert Venues

When you’re looking for a smaller space or more underground artists, the alternative venue scene is always busy in downtown Philly.

Kung Fu Necktie

While its creative name sets it apart, Kung Fu Necktie also offers a compact bar and concert venue. Located in Fishtown, the space drastically contrasts the elegance and size of the Academy of Music with worn booths, pool tables and a big wooden bar. While this hole-in-the-wall bar offers a gritty atmosphere, it’s a trendy venue for punk shows brought by small touring acts and younger music groups.

When people stop into Kung Fu Necktie, they’re not necessarily there for the show. It’s a bar venue first, but the general admission space in the back offers an up-close and personal experience with every band. You can’t expect the bargoers to quiet down when the show starts up, but the casual atmosphere is an ideal way to enjoy a small show on the weekend or a random Wednesday.

If you’re not exactly a punk fan, Kung Fu Necktie is still a notable dive bar in the Fishtown area to grab a beer and play a round of pool.

Union Transfer

Union Transfer has been around since 2011, and it’s well-known for its old, beautifully preserved building. In 1889, Union Transfer was the Spring Garden Farmers Market, selling fresh produce and other goods to the locals. It shut down in 1918 and became the Union Transfer Baggage Express Company, where American railways could store people’s belongings.

The venue retained its Union Transfer name for a dose of early Philadelphia history, and the building boasts restored architectural elements like ceiling trusses and chandeliers. The indie rock music scene has since found a home at Union Transfer, along with the venue’s microbrews, bar snacks and vegan food options.

In 2013, Rolling Stone included Union Transfer on their list of The Best Clubs in America. After only two years in business, the venue made a name for itself with indie rock acts like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Temper Trap. Since then, Union Transfer has hosted other acts like Japanese Breakfast, Twin Peaks and Alex G.

Its notable moving stage makes it adaptable to audience size. Capacity can be anywhere between 600 and 1,000 people, and its bar area offers an excellent escape from the crowd when you need it.

The Foundry at the Fillmore

While it’s relatively new to the live music scene, the Foundry is an adored upstairs venue at the Fillmore. While the Fillmore caters to larger concerts with more prominent artists, the Foundry is a more intimate space for new artists and independent musicians. With a 450-person capacity and a bar, you can enjoy your favorite indie artists with a small crowd.

Even though the Foundry is a smaller venue, it offers the same top-of-the-line production as the Fillmore. Enjoy excellent acoustics and sightlines along with the same glamorous yet industrial atmosphere. This type of space can be ideal for discovering upcoming artists or following some of your long-time favorites.

Bars With Live Music

If you’re looking for bars with live music to spend your nights in Philadelphia, there are plenty of locations for you to explore.

Johnny Brenda’s

Once a Fishtown dive bar, Johnny Brenda’s is now essential to the rock music scene in Philadelphia. This venue is located on Frankfurt Avenue, and it’s always full of eager music fans and old friends talking over a pint.

Johnny Brenda’s has all the features of your standard dive bar — low lighting, pool tables and local draft beers. The stage on the second floor where concertgoers can watch local, touring and experimental music groups. The actual music venue is standing room only for a close-knit concert experience.

You can find a restaurant to grab a bite before the show or a snack afterward on the first floor. They serve food until 1 a.m. to satiate your post-concert hunger, and you can find bars on the first and second floors to keep your glass filled.

Johnny Brenda’s is a 21 and over venue, but it caters to all ages over the legal drinking age. The space has been bringing live music to the city for over 15 years, and it even made an appearance in the Rocky movie franchise.


MilkBoy started as a recording studio and has since expanded to the live music scene. It has two locations, one on Chestnut Street and one on South Street. Tommy Joyner and Jamie Lokoff found success MilkBoy the Studio for the past 20 or so years and decided to bring music to the people in a different way.

Both MilkBoy locations function as restaurants, bars and live music venues. The venue likes to say it works triple time by serving early morning breakfast crowds at 7 a.m., covering the happy hour shift and joining the bustle of the late-night scene.

MilkBoy values great music and excellent drinks. You can find the music venue upstairs, where you can watch a live show from local and national musicians and stop by one of the two bars on the floor. The drink menu is well-known for its canned beer selection, craft beers on draft and a wide range of hot and chilled cocktails.

At the South Street location, MilkBoy allows visitors and locals to become a part of the Philadelphia music scene. Every Monday at 7 p.m., the venue hosts an open mic night, where you can play your music for the community. Connect with other local musicians and earn the chance to compete for the Annual Grand Prize — recording time at MilkBoy the Studio.

MilkBoy the Studio has worked with industry greats like The Roots, Miley Cyrus and much more. If you’re just as much a performer as you are a concertgoer, put MilkBoy on your list of music venues in Philadelphia.


Ortlieb’s is an indoor and outdoor restaurant and live music venue located on Third Street. The venue is named after a brewery of the same name, and it was once Nothern Liberties’ jazz club before it shifted to all types of music genres in 2010.

The music venue is located inside with a capacity of 100. You can enjoy an intimate concert experience in addition to signature cocktails and 10 draft beers on rotation. The kitchen is open late, so you can enjoy food with your show or before it starts.

With a wide range of food options, Ortlieb’s is also a great space for dining. Enjoy tex-mex options like nachos and quesadillas, and stop by early in the week for Taco Tuesdays. Locals can also enjoy events like bingo and karaoke early in the week if they’re looking to relax after work. This venue is exclusively for those who are 21 and older, so make sure to have your ID ready at the door.

Outdoor Venues

When the weather’s nice in the summer and spring, outdoor venues are excellent spaces to enjoy concerts with your loved ones.

The Mann Center

The Mann is an outdoor, partially covered concert venue, making it an ideal location for summer performances. The venue is located in Fairmount Park, and it has two stages. The TD Pavilion offers orchestra, balcony and box seating under the pavilion coverage, and the outskirts offer a massive lawn for spreading out a blanket and relaxing with your friends.

In addition to the TD Pavilion, The Mann has their open-air Skyline Stage, well-suited to music festivals. As you enjoy your favorite bands, you can take in breathtaking views of the Philadelphia skyline.

Outdoor venues like The Mann give concertgoers the chance to experience the city alongside live music, making it essential to the Philly lifestyle. Soak up the sun during the day and watch the stars at night. You can get to this venue by your favorite form of transportation, whether you take the subway or ride your bike.

The Mann puts on concerts rain or shine, so make sure to check the weather report before you go. Rainy concerts can be a whole new experience for seasoned concertgoers and newbies alike!

Sunflower Philly

Sunflower Philly deserves mention when you’re looking for places to see live music in Philly. Nestled between well-known neighborhoods, Sunflower Philly is a small corner of land completely untouched by developers. The area is between Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Kensington and Fairhill, and it’s become a vibrant part of Philly’s community.

This space started in 2019 when Christian Rodriguez, Melvin Powell and Asher Roth saw an opportunity to use the land. This trio wanted to subvert the development of a big urban center like Philly and keep this tiny corner of the city untouched. The space is meant to serve as a multi-functional community area, supporting group gatherings, live concerts and artistic endeavors.

The 11,000 square-foot space is bordered by brick walls that make a great public canvas for graffiti artists. Prior to the inception of Sunflower Philly, the space was used for block parties, giving it the community-based values it has today.

As a small non-profit organization, Sunflower Philly aims to make art and music accessible to the community through sustainable resources. The venue hosts a wide range of events for arts fundraisers, live music, group yoga, dance parties and so much more.

Sunflower Philly is a testament to the city’s dedication to its locals. While you can enjoy massive venues with prominent artists around the area, Sunflower Philly connects you to your neighbors and brings a sense of community to your urban neighborhood.

Make Philly Your Home With Streamline Philly

When you buy a home with Streamline, you stay connected to the building process from start to finish. Our semi-custom builds can give you a space in Philly to explore the music scene in its entirety. While we help you get a jumpstart on your dream home, you can also sidestep any third parties and enjoy a single point of contact for your building process.

Get in touch with us today to see if Streamline is a good fit for you.