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The best live music venues in Philadelphia

There’s something special about live music that’s difficult to explain. As Billy Joel lyrically quipped, “There's a new band in town, but you can't get the sound from a story in a magazine.”

Take the time to explore Philadelphia’s smaller music venues and you won’t be disappointed.

No need to go to New Orleans

Billie Holiday. John Coltrane. Ethel Waters. Dizzie Gillespie.

Did you know that these legends of jazz were born not in the Big Easy but right here in Philadelphia?

New Orleans aside, Philly is one of the top destinations for live jazz in the nation. In fact, Chris’s Jazz Café at 1421 Sansom Street has often been ranked as one of the Top 100 places to listen to jazz on Earth.

Here are more jazz-infused haunts worth a visit:

  • South: A culinary experience built on authentic southern classics. Local and national acts performing table-side six nights a week.
  • Warmdaddy’s: Friday and Saturday nights feature live blues, soul and jazz
  • Paris Bistro, Time or the Sassafras Bar

Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Center City Jazz Festival. This one-day event brings nearly two-dozen bands to six venues on a single ticket.

Rocking Bars

Here’s a smattering of bars where you can grab a cold beer and return home with your eardrums ringing:

For those less interested in the crowded, speaker-blasting environment of their youth, there’s always music and dancing at the more professional-friendly Hard Rock Café Philadelphia.

Order a side of cello

The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society organizes concerts at a quartet of venues that are ideal for enjoying fine classical music.

  • Perelman Theater
  • American Philosophical Society
  • College of Physicians
  • Church of the Holy Trinity

Something Different

  • The Electric Factory’s 2,500-capacity standing-room-only concert hall is a fan favorite for music in all genres.
  • From international flavors to jam bands, soft rock, singer-songwriters and more, World Cafe Live features a bistro-style ambiance and capacity of just 300.
  • Outdoor music at its finest, the 40th Street Summer Series is the ideal destination for chilling out and listening to great music on the green. Similar festivals are scheduled at Morgan’s Pier and Penn’s Landing.
  • L’Etage is perhaps the finest nightclub and cabaret in town.
  • The Fillmore Philadelphia is one of the city’s newest venues. It’s large enough to attract big names but small enough to maintain an intimate setting with fantastic sightlines.