5 UArts Bands You Need To Know Now

Featured Image by Brittany Salerno

At the heart of Philadelphia, The University of The Arts produces musical acts at an unprecedented rate thanks to an unparalleled creative community of artists unlike any other. One of few in the world to house all the arts under one roof, the school is a crucible of talent and incubator of collaboration that transcends every platform from basements and house shows to nationally televised events, award shows and even the silver screen. These hallowed halls have housed notable talents that include Academy Award winner/30 Seconds To Mars front man Jared Leto, double-platinum Bucks County singer-songwriter Christina Perri, Grammy-nominated singer and musician Elle KingCage The Elephant lead guitarist Nick Bockrath and NBC’s The Voice finalist Matt McAndrew. It is not uncommon to hear of UArts School of Music faculty members like guitarist Kevin Hanson working with The Roots, saxophonist Chris Farr playing alongside Rihanna, or accomplished trombonist Randy Kapralick’s work with Aretha Franklin or Frankie Valli. Even now, a new wave of talent with UArts ties have eyes set on success, and here are some of these great UArts artists to watch for!

#1. Nikia Camp

My favorite voice from at The University of The Arts comes courtesy of a singer-songwriter named Nikia Camp. A songstress of “sad love songs of an indie-whatever persuasion”, Camp’s exploration of unique vocal arrangements and structural sensibility brings graceful compliment to instrumental rhythms. She ebbs and flows in a bittersweet flux of dynamic tension that can only be felt or heard amidst the haunting tug of war between vulnerability of heart and guardedness of mind. A perfect storm heard in her cover of the Pixies “Where Is My Mind” and performances in support of Matt McAndrew, carving a niche to leave an undeniably mark on the UArts music scene. Somewhere betwixt passion for positive affirmation and emotional catharsis Nikia finds her openness, sharing: “compliments feel good and fuel my self esteem, plus I’m very non-confrontational so singing and songwriting is the perfect way to be introspective without really having to face my gross feelings.”

#2. Dylan Young

Dylan Young is a UArts singer-songwriter hailing from the musical land of New Jersey who, following rollercoaster rides through several bands, is finding his path in a first full-length album, How it Feels. Recorded in three sessions spanning from the end of 2013 into early 2014 that resulted in nine songs and a B-side. In describing his creative process, Dylan articulates how he “… be releasing the album in its entirety in three parts – having three songs on each release. Releases spanning from Summer into Fall… This album is literally years in the making, so I’m very excited to get my stuff out there.” A humble product of the blue-collar musical cauldron of the Atlantic North East, Young considers himself a writer rather than a guitar virtuoso or The Voice-esque singer. Whether channeling his inner blues-smith or airing out his inner depths of all the feels in songs about life, love and the struggle, Dylan manages to stay in close touch with who he is at the heart, no matter how much he may wrestle with it. Young transparently muses “I consider myself like a male Lana Del Rey – a loner looking at life through a shop display window desperately trying to break through and belong.”

#3. Vanillalord

Who or what is or isn’t Vanillalord? Find out for yourself. The band is an extremely good listen. The first release by the Jonathan Shedletzky and Michael Johnson (Ape School, Holopaw, Lilys) Philadelphia-formed and Toronto-based Boiled Records is Vanillalord‘s Macro Plaque PAC EP is out now in digital and cassette formats as well as 75 limited edition 8″, square, clear vinyl pressings, lathe cut in mono, the first twenty-five copies of which come in a wearable burlap mask jacket (yes, you read that correctly). Songs like “Mouth Organ” and “Toroidal” capture both the sound song structure and brave exploratory and experimental nature of songwriter and musician Mac Kennedy. Drummer Cameron Konner’s propensity for and gravitation towards (or formation of) great sounding bands and innovative approach radiates throughout the permeated rhythms and melodic dimensional sounds of Vanillalord’s tunes. Check them out playing in Philly with Ex-Cult and Sheer Mag at Everybody Hits on May 25th and at Ortliebs on June 20th.

#4. Andorra

Winning last year’s Radio 104.5’s Birthday Show contest brought UArts act Andorra alongside acts such as Monsters and Men, Death Cab For Cutie, Hozier, Passion Pit, and AWOLNATION, making the group one you may have heard of recently here in Philadelphia and in the surrounding region. Kevin McCall and Jordan Petrellis’s band has grown in structure and sound over the past five years to an intrepid stage in their young career. Having seen a revolving door of additional band members and various different line-ups coupled with a solid string of performances at venues, bars, churches and in the Drexel/Temple house show circuit and community, Andorra (now joined by Michael Trycieckyj and Dante DiLoreto) continues to release new music including the single “Indian Queen” premiered exclusively on Rock On Philly and that was also featured by WXPN’s The Key as well as their forthcoming song and accompanying music video entitled “Four Corners.”

#5. Basement Dream

With a catchy, natural songwriting ability and a strong atmospheric resonance to his music that only projects to further progress and develop as time goes on, singer-songwriter Brandon Linke has been dwelling the streets of Philadelphia, PA since 2012. Initially from New Jersey, he conceived the idea for Basement Dream in 2011 after listening to lots of Death Cab for Cutie and The Microphones. Ever since then, he has been recording in his basement and experimenting with unconventional studio methods, especially ones that make for a truly unique listening experience. Basement Dream’s sound can be described as sort of dark, folky, ambient farm music that sounds haunted. Since Linke was born on Halloween, he likes to keep a pleasant yet eerie element to his music. Although Basement Dream is a solo recording project, it has grown to include performances at shows in and around Philadelphia on occasions that include a rotating line up, often consisting of fellow UArts products such as talented musician and live-sound guru Jeremy White on baritone saxophone/bass, and gifted percussionist Derek Sattazahn on drums. Be sure to check out Basement Dream and keep your eyes open for more good things to come in the near future!

Who is your favorite act from UArts? Tell us in the comments below. And, if you’re into college bands, check out our Battle of the College Bands competition coming April 29th!


  1. Phil Thomas

    April 6, 2016 at 10:10 pm



  2. Dr. Frank Davis

    April 7, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Johnny’s Dance Band

  3. Dr. Frank Davis

    April 7, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    Johnny’s Dance Band

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