Known best for our sweaty, “I can’t move my body, but I’ll mosh anyway” basement shows, Philadelphia is where music demands to be felt in real-time. Like the 2018 Super Bowl we’ll never let go, the DIY movement pays tribute to the city’s underdog nature.
We’re not Nashville, NYC, or Los Angeles — there aren’t label execs sitting around a table waiting to sign the next pop act from a Philly basement. And though it’s a little tougher to make it here, bands who draw any size crowd deserve recognition.
Philadelphia has, and always will be, about the community. To make it big in our city means to connect friends, family, and strangers at the Barbary, Voltage Lounge, or any local bar — it’s not always about selling out arenas (though BIG props to some of the list for playing 15,000+ cap shows). It’s starting small and loving the music industry in all its deprecating glory. Our list of 8 Artists from Philadelphia You Should be Jamming are exactly that — artists and bands who toughed it out and made something of themselves, just like their hometown.
Valencia (IYL: The Starting Line, The Dangerous Summer, Cartel)
If you’re at all invested in the punk rock/pop-punk music scene in Philly, the name Valencia isn’t new. The group played in separate bands before forming Valencia in 2004 and quickly began their rise to fame on Warped Tour and several headlining tours. After a halt in 2010, the guys are back to releasing new music, along with a few members developing side projects and indie record labels.
See them in Philly on December 27th and 28th (sold out) at Union Transfer.
Low Cut Connie (IYL: Shakey Graves, The Suffers, Greyhounds)
You have to be pretty special to receive praise from Sir Elton John, Barack Obama, and Howard Stern. If you’re into 50s-esque rock n’ roll (gritty riffs and a $100 rollicking piano number), then Low Cut Connie is your go-to. It’s no surprise the band is a MNYK Studios staff member favorite — to experience a Low Cut Connie show is to witness two hours of high-energy led by Adam Weiner standing on top of a piano and running through the crowd.
See them in Philly on December 31st at the Trocadero.
Rich People (IYL: Super American, Sleep in., Everyone Leaves)
Rich People, signed to Know Hope Records (co-founded by JD Perry of Valencia), landed on my Spotify “Discover Weekly” playlist and it was love at first listen. If you like minimally-produced instrumentation mixed with detailed lyricism (think: raw Knuckle Puck), Rich People is perfect for you. A little bit mad at the world and a little bit hopeful at the same time, Rich People is the next punk-rock/alt-rock project to blow up from Philly.
See them open for Broadside on December 2nd at the Foundry.
CRUISR (IYL: Smallpools, Vinyl Theatre, Bad Suns)
Calling all indie-pop fans: CRUISR is the answer to a trip over the Ben Franklin Bridge on a summer afternoon (yes, that’s the closest thing we have to a palm tree-lined beach). The band has more of a SoCal influence floating through warm, shimmery guitar leads and catchy melodies. CRUISR’s clean-produced, modern sound sets them apart from other acts on our list, and the band is worth a listen because of it.
Dr. Dog (IYL: Local Natives, Spoon, The Shins)
Though the band’s known for its iconic Beatles vocal harmonies and fuzzy 70s rock, Dr. Dog is in the midst of a transformation. Throughout the last 10 years, the band released multiple Top 50 albums, played late night shows like Letterman, Fallon, and Conan, and toured with the likes of The Black Keys, The Lumineers, and more. And now they’re switching up their sound just a little bit, as their goal has always been to make music with friends and have fun doing it.
Grayscale (IYL: ROAM, With Confidence, Between You & Me)
Another Warped Tour alumni, Grayscale is part of the new wave of pop-punk (think: State Champs, Neck Deep). Doused with syncopated guitar riffs and foot-tapping bass lines, Grayscale’s music is for the heartbroken and the hopeful. If you’re a film buff into latent messaging, the band’s music videos are a standout from others in the genre.
The Barker Brothers
A perfect mix of the 70s and mid-2000s acoustic singalongs with a modern twist — we’re proud to say The Barker Brothers are Manayunk-natives. Recommended by our own Ryan Bonner, the duo refers to themselves as “two brothers playing their music.” Simple as that.
Find them playing November 30th and December 1st at the Grape Room.
The Wonder Years (IYL: Man Overboard, The Story So Far, Transit)
If you’ve listened to Radio 104.5 in the last few months, you’ve probably heard The Wonder Years’ title track from their newest release Sister Cities. The band truly “came out swinging from a South Philly basement” and finally achieved commercial radio play after 8 years together. Much like Valencia, if you’re from Philly and into the punk scene, you idolized The Wonder Years during your teens.