Ever wondered where all the cool kids are in the local music scene? Well, they sure aren’t at the Trocadero, or the Electric Factory. Aside from very rare exceptions, most of the legitimate, hard-working musicians perform in basements, bookstores and backyards across Philadelphia, where music is a community – not a commodity.
Halfway House, 4141 Chestnut St., myspace.com/halfwayhizzle
This house provides a punk rock party atmosphere with constant music coming from the packed basement. Here, one can expect to find mohawks, studded vests, empty beer bottles and countless
drunken punks with questionable ages. Halfway House is always a popular hangout, although certainly not for everyone. Chaos often ensues.
Lava Zone, 4134 Lancaster Ave.,
More a library than a show space, LAVA Zone (Lancaster Avenue AutonomousZone), provides fans with all sorts of radical media and is home to several organizations
that work for social, political and economic change. The show atmosphere here is usually communal and typically alcohol-free. Performers are usually somewhat
socio-politically conscious, and often play for a variety of causes.
First UniItarian Church, 2125 Chestnut
The First Unitarian Church, known simply as “The Church” to regulars, is probably the best place to see a variety of independent live music in Philadelphia. The relentless R5 Productions group hosts upwards of 300 shows here every year.
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St.,
The Rotunda is more of a community center than a music venue. Rotunda events are almost always free of charge, although a hat is usually passed around to collect donations for traveling acts. The Rotunda hosts a variety of music acts and events from frequent ska-punk shows and jazz trios to a monthly hip-hop scene The Gathering. All Rotunda shows are alcohol-free.
VeggiIeplex Theatre, 1019 S. 47th
This West Philly hangout is a house basement that holds events in a positive, friendly atmosphere. Shows, talks, craft nights and intense hide-and-go-seek rounds are all regular occurrences. All sorts of bands and artists have performed here, from folk punk acts to head-crushing metal hybrids. This house holds a strict no-alcohol policy.
Be Happy House, 4078 Spring Garden
This house’s name says it all. There are few rules or regulations at this house, yet most of the showgoers here understand limits and create a friendly atmosphere. The Be Happy House crew usually throws a party around live music. A spacious basement allows for large crowds, and a back deck gives attendees fresh air and a place to have a beer among the diverse crowd.