As a music aficionado, I’m always scouting around for the best live venues that book equally great bands.
Here, I’m going to provide you with three of my personal favorite music venues in Philadelphia, PA. These are all places that house unique artists in a non-pretentious setting, for affordable prices.
1. North Star Bar
Located: 2639 Poplar Street, Philadelphia, PA 19130
The North Star Bar is one of my favorite places to go for a night out for music. They are open everyday from 5PM-2AM, with the kitchen open 5PM-1AM Friday-Saturday and 5-11PM Sunday-Thursday. The bar is conveniently located near the Philadelphia Zoo, the Philadelphia Art Museum, Drexel University, Temple University and Girard College.
Every day from 5-7 the bar has a happy hour consisting of 3 wings for $1 and ½ off all pints of beer and well liquor. Food consists of typical bar-cuisine, including chicken fingers, fries, cheeseburgers, veggie burgers, buffalo wings, whiskey pulled pork and the crab cake sandwich.
Besides having tables where you can sit and order drinks, there’s a main bar, and the stage is located in the center of your seated view. Upstairs there’s a balcony where audiences can view the stage perfectly from atop.
You can buy tickets in advance online through the bar’s website. Upcoming shows include Hot Hot Heat, Nobody Yet, Meeting in the Isle (Radiohead Tribute,) Evan Dando, Waiting for December, Caspian, The Dirges and more. Tickets typically range from $7-$15.
2. World Café Live
Located: 3025 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
World Café Live is where you go to experience music, especially if you live near the University City area. This three-tiered music venue was specially designed to maximize the experience for both the artists and the fans.
There is an upstairs and downstairs area in which performances are held. Downstairs Live can seat 300 and hold up to 650 standing room only, while it features Clair Brothers’ ETC light fixtures, dimming racks, a stage monitor system and a digitally controlled PA. Upstairs Live can seat 100 people, and features a café, as well as consistent live radio broadcasts and performances. Both sections provide food and drink, as well as retail sections for selling merchandise. For performers, there is ground-floor loading access, green rooms which feature showers and wireless internet, and artist concierge on-site.
From 5-7PM, Monday-Friday, the World Café has “Live After 5,” which hosts various drink specials like $2 Yuengling’s and $4 house wine. They also have $8 daily lunch specials.
Tickets can be purchased anytime online or over the phone, while tickets range from $10-$40. Upcoming shows Downstairs include Animus, Marina and the Diamonds, Tortoise, The Young Dubliners and Charlie Musselwhite, while upcoming Upstairs shows include Krista Parrish, Holler!, Jef Lee Johnson, Marianne Dissard and Metropolis. World Café also hosts private events, as well as showcases featuring local artists, such as Open Mic Night or WXPN’s Live at Noon special.
Overall, the setting is very intimate and laid-back. You can go here with a date or a group a friends, and have a great time no matter what. Tickets are generally cheaper than regular commercial music venues, and typically after every major show, artists will do meet-and-greets and album signings.
3. First Unitarian Church
Located: 2125 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
The First Unitarian Church is exactly what it sounds like…an actual church! But somehow Philadelphia music fans were granted access to the church basement, where many up-and-coming artists perform intimately, giving fans one of the most unique live music experiences they’ll ever witness. Most of the shows are booked and sponsored by R5 Productions. Tickets usually range from $8-$15, and most shows are generally all ages.
Upcoming shows include Envy on the Coast, The Breeders, Best Coast, Tobacco, Fireworks, Strung Out, No Age, Free Energy, Margot & the Nuclear So So’s and more.