One of my favorite things about Philadelphia is the great music scene. Philly is blessed with both an active local scene in many genres, as well as having a lot of great venues for touring bands to come play. When I was at Haverford, I always made an effort to come into the city and see shows, but now that I’m actually living here it couldn’t be easier. A night of good live music is always just a few dollars and a ride of public transportation away.
Philadelphia has some really big venue spaces to go to, like the Wachovia Center or the Susquehanna Bank Center across the Delaware. However, a lot of the bands I like fall in the middle of the fame spectrum: big enough to tour, but not so big they can fill massive venues like that. As a result, I get to catch them in small, often more intimate spaces like the First Unitarian Church, the Union Transfer or bars like Johnny Brenda’s and Kung Fu Necktie. There are also lots of house & basement shows, as we’ve learned at Haverford House living in between two houses with resident bands!
Most recently, I caught Canadian post-rock legends Godspeed You! Black Emperor at the Union Transfer on September 28. The eight-piece includes two percussionists, a violinist, and an upright bass, in addition to a quartet of guitarists and bassists (one of whom regularly plays his instrument with a screwdriver in place of a pick, producing a haunting drone; check out the technique covered by a fan on Youtube). Such a big roster results in a big sound, whose walls of feedback and swelling crescendos filled the packed-but-not-quite-sold-out house. They played for close to 2 hours, opening with perhaps their best-known song in ‘Storm’ before playing the entirety of their new 40-minute album and closing with a few more old favorites. I didn’t take any pictures or video myself, but you can check out a clip from the show here.
I’ve already got some shows lined up in the next couple months, and I look forward to continuing to take advantage of the awesome music culture in Philly.