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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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…”