Philly is Much More Than the “New Brooklyn”

Stereogum just published an insightful and fascinating article about how Philadelphia’s music scene is in a major stage of transition – from the overshadowed neighbor of NYC and DC to a mainstay for fledgling punk, rock, and indie bands. Rock On Philly could not agree more (hence why we started this website!), and here are a few main reasons why all eyes are on Philly now.

More Potential and Room to Grow 

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Photo by Joseph Wingenfeld via Flickr

As Manhattan’s cost of living went up, young people, especially creative types, gravitated to Brooklyn’s neighborhoods. The hit HBO show Girls even takes place in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. However, now these neighborhoods are experiencing extreme gentrification: overcrowding and significant increases in cost of living, as well as destruction of independent venues and other small businesses. Philadelphia, meanwhile, offers a similar blend of vibrant culture and diversity with a much lower cost of living. We still have empty lots and space that can be used for venues, recording spaces, and so much more.

Significant Emerging Artists 

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Photo by georgia via Flickr 

Philly has a long history of producing notable artists, and the focus is switching to Philly once again. Kurt Vile has become a celebrated national music figure, being featured in Rolling Stone and having his own holiday in Philly! His former band, the indie rock The War on Drugs continues to thrive and receive critical acclaim. Kid Felix is making noise nationally as an up-and-coming hard rock band, something local band Silvertide accomplished last decade. There’s a slew of punk and hardcore bands as well, a topic that the Stereogum article discusses in depth.

Support in the Community 

PHL Live Center Stage Interview David Oh

Philadelphians in power appreciate the attention the city is receiving and is trying to capitalize on that. Councilman David Oh launched PHL Live Center Stage last fall to highlight local Philly talent and to gain exposure, with hopes it will become an annual initiative. Radio station mainstay 93.3 WMMR FM promotes local music through its Jaxon Local Shots segment. 88.5 WXPN FM, a nationally-recognized leader in public radio, frequently plays local music, as well as Drexel University’s 91.7 WKDU FM.

A Down-to-Earth Attitude

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Photo by Vincent via Flickr

The most enduring and important thing Philadelphia has going for it is it’s close-knit community. More so than other metropolitan areas in the Northeast, Philadelphia is known for down-to-earth, blue collar roots. From its weird slang to the quirky shops at South Street to the exciting independent music venues, Philadelphia promotes a D.I.Y. ethic and a “be yourself” ideology. This attitude allows musicians to experiment without pressure and get some honest maybe brutal) feedback from audiences.

While Philadelphians generally hate being compared to Brooklyn, as far as national attention goes, Philly is what Brooklyn was 10 or so years ago. As Brooklyn loses more of its artistic and D.I.Y. aesthetic, musicians and all-around creators will start to find somewhere else they can call home. In fact, Philly may have more in common with the Seattle of the late 80’s/early 90’s, before the grunge explosion. Just don’t tell business conglomerates–we want Philly to “stay weird” forever!

What do you think about this? Tell us in the comments below!

Featured Image by Liana Jackson via Flickr

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Know Your Scene: “We Are Music” Honors Philly’s Music, Sights, and Dante Bucci - Rock On Philly

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