Spotlight: The Fillmore Philly

Have you ever been to a venue for a concert and just felt entirely at home, like you’re exactly where you belong with people who share the same interests and perspectives? That’s The Fillmore Philadelphia to me.

The Philadelphia Magazine named the concert hall the Best New Music Venue. Located at 29 East Allen Street in Philadelphia, it is a former World War II munitions factory that offers a unique experience.

The first band I saw there was SafetySuit, one of my favorite rock bands; and I was so close that I could practically touch the stage. I even got a picture with the lead singer, Douglas Brown.

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Basically tore Douglas Brown’s arm out of its socket for this photo with him at the Foundry. Worth it!

The venue is actually two clubs in one — the Fillmore (main hall) and the Foundry (top floor, smaller club for developing and local artists.) Though different sizes, they both provide that up-close-and-personal feel.

Having seen shows in both, I prefer the Foundry to the Fillmore because it’s much easier to connect with the band. Of course, for concerts with larger crowds, it’s not so easy to hold too many people in that size room. However, I personally enjoy shows that aren’t as packed, ones where you can hang by the gate and make eye contact with the lead singer. It’s an awesome feeling.

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I was super close to SafetySuit at Foundry.

Garret Kennel, 21-year-old Rowan University student, gave his opinion on the main venue at the Fillmore after seeing Simple Plan there this March. “I really like the set up, how there were bars and open areas outside of the stage area while also having bars in the stage area. The thing that stood out from other venues is that it kinda felt like just a giant house party,” he said.

Since the band was touring for their 15th anniversary, Simple Plan drew quite an audience and performed in the more spacious room. “It was just good vibes all around,” Kennel stated.

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Simple Plan performing their anniversary concert at the Fillmore.

Not only do you get to enjoy the concert, you can also order food and alcohol at the bar to accompany you during the show. Maybe that’s why this is my favorite concert hall — food, alcohol, AND live music? I might as well move in.

I’m not the only one who fancies the notion of booze and tunes. Nicolette Cerminaro, student at University of Sciences in Philadelphia, gushed about how the venue is “much bigger than Electric Factory in terms of moving around room and accessibility to the bar from the general admission areas.” Cerminaro saw Tegan and Sara around Halloween, and they sold themed drinks for the holiday. How festive?!

Denis Conrad, 23 of Westmont, New Jersey, was also impressed after his recent experience there. “It had a real cool atmosphere and the sound carried well. Beer wasn’t horribly expensive compared to normal concert prices, not cheap but not eight bucks for a Bud Light or anything.”

On a historical note, this 25,000-square-foot venue maintains the values of the original Fillmore, which opened in San Francisco in 1965 and is essentially a legend. In fact, according to the venue info on their site, “The Fillmore was the focal point for the psychedelic music scene during the 1960s and ’70s, helping to launch the careers of acts such as The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Santana, The Doors, Hot Tuna and many, many others which helped it grow into the legend it is today.”

Any time I return to concert hall, I immediately feed off the passion and excitement of everyone in the room. There are rarely seats unless you’re in VIP, so the crowd packs together to celebrate the art of music, laughing and jumping around like old friends.

Shannon Gausepohl, Rowan alumn, told me about her escapade seeing her all-time favorite band at the Fillmore this March. “I saw Thursday there. It was so chill. The Thursday shows I’m used to attending are a little wild and it’s very possible I was the wildest there,” she said. “The staff was friendly, it’s in a great spot for bars and there are a lot of great lineups. I would definitely go back.”

And after the concert, as suggest by Conrad, you can walk over to Fishtown’s main stretch for some more fun.

Check out additional pictures of the venue below!

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Band Practice with Hello Japan

Hey, pop-punks! Last week I got to sit down and talk to an upcoming band, Hello Japan. The members, Jim Pizappi, Ryan Aubrey, and Kenny Kotala, all go to Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey. Though they’re just starting out, they already have their journey mapped out, with aspirations set high and dedication to rise up.

Check out their interview to get a glimpse of who they are — you won’t want to forget their names.

Photo credit: Adam Badalamenti

Spotlight: Simple Plan Concert in Philadelphia

On Tuesday, March 28, beloved pop-punk band Simple Plan came to Philadelphia to perform at The Fillmore. On this 15-year anniversary tour, Simple Plan played their entire first album, No Pads, No Helmets…Just Balls.

I was lucky enough to attend this legendary concert and meet some pretty great people there. Pop-punk concerts are unlike any other, and I wanted to give you guys a feel of the atmosphere and passion in the venue. I was able to interview a few people who were in the audience — Angela Kotala, Garret Kennel, and Kevin Momat (in that order.) Kevin specifically opened up about the intimacy of the show and some characteristics of this type of audience.

Listen to what they had to say below!

Spotlight: Lois Shearing of “In Punk We Trust”

The awesome part about music is that it connects people from all across the world. There are countless bloggers covering the pop-punk scene, but one specific writer caught my attention: Lois Shearing, author of In Punk We Trust.

Shearing, age 22, grew up in Eastbourne, England and studied journalism in Bournemouth. She now lives in London and maintains her music blog, which she created in July of last year. “I started it because I wanted a new blogging project as I left uni and pop punk/hardcore music was something I knew I could talk/write about for a long time without getting bored,” she told me in an email interview.

Though she posts articles at least once a week, from interviews to reviews, she admits to experiencing challenges along the way. “Blogging can be very time consuming if you want to post regularly and it can be hard to find the time to sit down and research and actually write,” she stated.

But despite the fact that she also works, Shearing still finds time to share valuable content quite frequently — because she enjoys doing so. “For me the most exciting part is interviewing bands and musicians. I love talking to people about something they’re so passionate about and that they spend so much time on,” she explained. “It’s really exciting to feel a part of a scene that I feel so connected to.”

Blogging is more than just a hobby — it’s an important part of journalism that’s advancing right along with technology. According to Shearing, “as media and magazines become more monopolised [sic], readers like having a face and a personality behind what they are being recommended and promoted.” However, blogs will most likely never replace professional news sources due to lack of resources, as stated by Shearing. That’s not to say that blogs do not play a vital role in journalism, however, offering unique information on an online platform.

When asked what she’d recommend to others starting a beat blog, Shearing advised that the more specific the better in order to have a hook. “Pick a subject you already have a lot of knowledge about and write what you would want to read!”

Spotlight: Ivy Inn in Princeton, N.J.

I’ve been on the hunt for a laid back bar with live music for awhile now. Of course, I’m sure there are many to choose from in the area; but I wanted to spotlight a place that’s adored by its crowd, one whose atmosphere is as kick-ass as the bands who perform there.

Ivy Inn sits right on Nassau Street in Princeton, essentially in the downtown area. When I visited this Sunday to snap some shots of the stage, it was relatively empty — but I could still get a sense of atmosphere from the night before. The bar was quiet, a few people chatting with the bartender like old friends. I got a sense that the pub sees familiar faces each week, which adds to the magic of it.

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Ivy Inn has its own parking lot in downtown Princeton where music-lovers and beer-drinkers gather for live music and DJs. Though relatively small, it’s an inviting pub with friendly faces welcoming you as soon as you walk in.
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When you first step inside, you’ll see a pool table to the right for some drunken games with old friends.
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A corner bar with a few stools, this spot has a perfect view of the stage.
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The main bar is lined with chairs, and there’s a booth in the corner that could fit a whole group. “The rich history of Princeton, along with some wood paneling from a basement in 1975, makes each show at the Ivy unforgettable,” said the Seth Tieger Band, a New Jersey based band that performs here regularly, covering songs by bands from Bon Jovi to Paramore.
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On Fridays and Saturdays, live bands perform after 10p.m. “Even though the stage is the size of a postage stamp, the energy that can be projected from that little corner is incredible,” said the Seth Tieger Band. When the band starts playing, the people start crowding around, dancing and singing ’til closing time.
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You can sit with some bar food and a couple of beers with entertainment all around you. The local bands play.

From the words of the the Seth Tieger Band: “We love the Ivy because there is always a built-in crowd that is ready to rock…”

Spotlight: Meet Hope Vista of Anthem Rock Band VISTA

Hope Vista, Rowan alumni, has embarked on a successful musical career post-graduation. As lead vocalist of the anthem rock band VISTA, she’s found herself writing new singles, performing at different venues and even opening for well known pop band Against The Current.

I got to speak with Hope via an email interview, covering topics from her personal life to the band. Check out her responses!

Q: Have you always wanted to be a singer?

A: Oh yeah, I’ve been singing since I was two or three. I’d just run around the house singing, my grandparents would film me on a video camera giving ‘concerts.’ I honestly can’t think of anything else I’ve ever wanted to do.

Q: Do you also write lyrics or play instruments?

A: I write most of VISTA’s lyrics, and I play guitar too! I used to be pretty solid at they keys but I’ve lost touch over the past few years because I haven’t played. I play guitar pretty much every day, I think I got my first one when I was seven or eight.

Q: What genre of music influences you most?

A: Mine are all super opposite of each other. I’ve always been really inspired by 90’s pop because that’s the generation I grew up in. That music is obviously very different than ours, but I was always really invested in the performance quality of that era instead. 70’s classic rock and the modern Warped scene are two of mine as well, I try to find inspiration in many areas instead of staying within one niche and getting stuck.

Q: Are there any particular adversities that you’ve experienced along your journey as a musician, either personal or professional?

A: Oh yeah. Losing my dad was the worst, that was hands down the most difficult adversity to push through. Losing band mates is always hard, losing anything in general is hard. But things don’t go as planned in this industry. I think you kind of always have to prepare for disaster or for something just to not go as you planned it. Backup plans and being able to think on your toes is how you overcome any hardship in the music industry.

Q: How do you think your experience at Rowan helped you get this far in your music career?

A: I graduated in 2015, so I’ve been out for a while. Being at Rowan for all four years straight taught me a lot about the quality of work and patience. I was a Writing Arts major, so I was consistently writing papers, I was always working on multiple papers at a time, so my work always had to be correct. It had to be correct grammatically, I had deadlines. But more importantly I had to make sure I was getting my thoughts out effectively, and that crosses over directly into music, writing lyrics, being a publicist, and also just communicating properly with industry professionals. If I didn’t know how to talk to people, I wouldn’t be in a band at all, I’d be curled up in a bed somewhere. And I can definitely credit a lot of those communication skills to my education at Rowan. Granted I skipped class a ton because I wanted to write music in my apartment, but I still learned a lot.

Q: When and how did the band get together?

A: This isn’t the original lineup of VISTA, the first one was put together about a year and a half ago. I knew our current guitarist Greg through other people, we have many mutual friends. I was looking for a new guitarist last summer, and he just messaged me out of the blue asking me about what I was looking for, we noticed we had the same goals in mind and a similar work ethic, and it just fit from that point on!

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Hope Vista with VISTA’s guitarist, Greg Almeida.

Q: What exactly is anthem rock, and what made you choose this genre? (It’s definitely one that interested in listening to!)

A: We originally wanted to build a sub genre from the ground up instead of sticking ourselves in one tight bubble. So we’re just basically exploring what the word ‘anthem’ means. What elements does that include? What type of guitar tones? We have heavy use of the bass drum, thick bass lines, pulsing guitar strumming patterns. It’s really just a combination of what we feel resonates with the word ‘anthem.’

Q: What are your goals as VISTA?

A: Greg and I both have the same goals, which is great because that means we’re both consistently on the same page. Warped Tour, break into the European/Asian touring markets, record deal, Billboard charting album. Those are the main ones right now, long way to go, but I like to see consistent momentum. It keeps me alive.

(Photo credit for both images: Holly Turner)