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Top 3 Places to See a Show in Philadelphia

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After recently being named the best city to see a show in, the live music spotlight has been on Philadelphia. With tons of great local and nationally acclaimed artists performing in the city each night, the music scene in Philadelphia has been able to thrive. However, the shows wouldn’t be happening without the incredible spaces Philadelphia has to host them, so here are the best of the best.

1. Union Transfer

Photo courtesy of Union Transfer's Facebook pagePhoto courtesy of Union Transfer’s Facebook page

A newcomer to Philadelphia’s live music scene, Union Transfer made its mark immediately when it was established in 2011. The remodeled warehouse, which dates back to the 1800s, is now one of the great prides of Philadelphia’s show-going demographic. Hosting multiple nationally acclaimed acts each night, the venue’s sound is always impeccable, and it is equipped with a full bar, viewing platforms on each side, and a balcony.

With a maximum capacity of 1200, “Union” has two settings which are used depending on ticket sales. In the small setting, the stage is moved forward about 10 feet to provide a more intimate feeling between the performer and audience, and in the big setting, the stage is moved backwards to accommodate a larger crowd.

2. World Café Live

Photo courtesy of World Cafe Live's Facebook pagePhoto courtesy of World Cafe Live’s Facebook page

With a sister location in Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia’s World Café Live is home to two different performance spaces and the University of Pennsylvania’s radio station, WXPN. While both floors offer a full bar and restaurant to their guests, the total focus at World Café is showcasing the performer. Both live rooms have been engineered with the ear, making acoustics the primary concern.

Upstairs Live, which seats 100 people, is about as intimate as a space can get without being someone’s house and is the host of a national tour or local show almost every night of the week. Downstairs Live is a much bigger room, but still very intimate for the magnitude of the artists it typically holds. Being able to house up to 650 people in a standing room only setting, Downstairs is complete with a huge stage, a state-of-the-art sound system, and balcony. It is also the home of WXPN’s signature “Free at Noon” concert series where the station brings in nationally acclaimed acts for a free show at noon on select Fridays which is broadcasted live on-air.

3. Johnny Brenda’s

Photo courtesy of Johnny Brenda's Facebook pagePhoto courtesy of Johnny Brenda’s Facebook page

Located in the once gritty, but now artsy neighborhood of Fishtown, Johnny Brenda’s has been in business since 1967, but it wasn’t until 2003 that it became the world-class live music club that it is today. When William Reed and Paul Kimport purchased the bar from the boxer John Imbrenda over a decade ago, it was a traditional tavern with an upstairs that hadn’t been used in decades. The new owners kept the name and much of the vintage furnishing to preserve the vintage feel, but immediately started renovating.

The result is a cutting-edge live music space with a top grade sound system, a full dance floor, and a balcony, which typically isn’t something most 250 capacity venues have. Although the stage is full-size, the room itself is tiny, making for a very intimate concert experience. With several great shows happening each week, Johnny Brenda’s has become a staple for many emerging and cult-following artists, and has hosted names like MGMT, Foals, and Vampire Weekend.

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