THE FILLMORE – PHILADELPHIA
The Fillmore is one of my favorite music venues in Philadelphia. The size of the room is perfect. Even if you stand all the way in the back, you are still close enough to have a great view. The acoustics in the room are fantastic. The bathrooms are spacious and clean (always a plus!). Parking near the venue is easy and inexpensive. Plus, the venue is located in the Fishtown neighborhood, which has lots of restaurants and bars to choose from for your pre-show or post-show food and drinks.
The “original” Fillmore opened in San Francisco in 1965. During the ‘60s and ‘70s, that version of the Fillmore was the focal point of the psychedelic music scene. It helped launch the careers of bands like The Grateful Dead, Santana, Led Zeppelin, and The Doors.
The Philadelphia version of The Fillmore opened in the fall of 2015 in a 125-year-old metal building. The AJAX building was converted into a 25,000-square foot facility, that is really three venues in one. The main room holds 2,500 people. It has a large main stage, along with a large bar on each side of the room, a large bar in the back, and a balcony area. The Foundry is located on the second floor of the facility, and holds 450 people. It has a small stage, a large bar, and several comfortable seating areas around the perimeter. Finally, as you enter the facility you will be in what is called Ajax Hall. This is a lounge area where you can get food and drinks before the show. There is usually a DJ playing music before and after shows as well.
Tip #1: As mentioned above, The Fillmore is located in the up and coming Fishtown neighborhood. There are plenty of food options for grabbing a bite before the show. Two of my favorites are Frankford Hall (www.frankfordhall.me), which serves German food and beer, and Fette Sau (www.fettesauphilly.com), which serves barbeque. If you want something a little less pricey and much more down to earth, grab a burger at Johnny Brenda’s (www.johnnybrendas.com). A Philadelphia institution itself, they also have live music regularly. It’s a great place to stop in after a show.
For this particular show, we wanted to grab some dinner first, but didn’t have a particular restaurant in mind. We found a spot on the street on Frankford Avenue across from the venue, so we parked and started heading down the street. About a block and a half down, we saw a new place called Fishtown Brewpub (www.fishtownbrewpub.com).
The building was previously home to several different businesses, including the Martin Landenberger Hosiery Mill and the Morse Elevator Works. The new owners have clearly put a lot of money into the location. The décor is very modern. The bar is large and the centerpiece of the space. There are some tables in the front by the window, booths along one side, and high top tables in the back. We were seated at one of the high tops. Our bar stools were comfortable (I love a bar stool that has a back), but the table was off balance and wobbled easily, which I would not have expected for a new restaurant.
Our server was fantastic. She was very attentive, but not pestering. As far as the food, we ordered the nachos with chicken, which were quite good. The amount of chicken and toppings on the nachos was generous. For entrées, my husband got the Brewpub Burger and I had the Beef Cheek Pierogis. While the burger was nothing special, the large hand-cut fries that came with it were delicious. The pierogis were very good, although a little heavy on the sauce.
As for the beer, we were a little disappointed. Both my husband and I liked the Feral Natives the best. I also tried the Dirt-Child Farmer’s Ale, which was a little too floral for me.
All in all, this is a good place to grab a beer before or after a show, particularly if you like local craft beers. The food menu is a little limited, but good.
Tip #2: Parking near The Fillmore is easy. There are two lots located near the venue. The cost to park is typically $10. If your timing is good and you don’t mind walking a little further, you can typically find parking on Frankford Avenue or the surrounding neighborhood streets. Most of it is free, but be sure to read the signs to make sure you aren’t parked illegally. Also, be aware that the trolley comes down Frankford Avenue. I’ve seen people that haven’t parked close enough to the curb, and the trolley can’t get through. They will have your car towed if you are blocking the trolley route.
Tip #3: Because the venue is so small, there really isn’t a bad spot in the room. I usually hang out in the back next to the sound board. That keeps me out of the crowd. From there, I also have good access to the bar and to the bathrooms.
Now that you know about the venue, here’s my review of the show that I saw Thursday night.
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FRENSHIP was formed in 2013, and is based out of Los Angeles. They released their first EP – “Truce” – in 2016. Download the EP here: http://amzn.to/2gKgjzL
FRENSHIP took the stage right at 8:00 p.m. The band features two of the guys who share lead vocal duties. They have a ton of energy, and worked hard to put on a good show for the crowd.
On their song “Knives”, they added some extra drums, which I thought was a nice addition to the song. Their set wrapped up with “Capsize” and “1000 Nights”, which were the best parts of their set. On “Capsize”, the female member of the band took over lead vocals. My husband and I both felt that she should have a more prominent role on vocals on all their songs, as her vocals are very strong and she adds a lot to the song. For “1000 Nights”, the guys from Bastille joined FRENSHIP on the stage. FRENSHIP announced at the beginning of their set that this was their last show with Bastille, so it was a nice way for everyone to wind up the tour.
Bastille is a British band that was formed in 2010. The band started out as a solo project for lead singer Dan Smith, but he later added Kyle Simmons (keyboard), Will Farquarson (bass and guitar) and Chris Wood (drummer). Smith’s birthday is on Bastille Day (July 14th), which is how the band got its name.
In July of 2010, Bastille released its first music in the form of a 7” single featuring the songs “Flaws” and “Icarus”. They only made 300 copies, but one of those ended up with Alex Baker, who liked to support unknown artists on his radio show. He began playing their music, and people started to pay attention.
In 2011, they released the EP “Laura Palmer” independently, and by that December, they had signed a record deal with Virgin Records. They released their first single with Virgin – “Overjoyed” – in May of 2012.
Their debut album – “Bad Blood” – was released in March of 2013. The fourth single from that album – “Pompeii” – became a monster hit, and seemed to be continuously in the rotation on radio stations across the U.S. that spring and summer.
In 2013, Bastille started playing a few new songs including one called “Blame”, which was to ultimately end up on their next album. They began recording the album in 2014, but “Wild World” didn’t get released until 2016. Their current tour is supporting that album. Bastille have announced plans for a third album, with a scheduled release in the spring of 2018. You can download the album here: http://amzn.to/2ieqr48
Bastille hit the stage at 9:15 p.m. to a roaring sold-out crowd. In typical Bastille form, they hit the stage running, opening with “Send Them Off” and “Laura Palmer” (one of my personal favorites).
After “Laura Palmer”, lead singer Dan Smith spent some time chatting with the crowd, including grabbing a couple of signs that people in the front were holding. One of the signs said that they had totaled their car coming to the show. It was a pretty entertaining conversation between Smith and the fan, with Smith asking if they were ok, and thanking them for still coming to the show.
Next, the band slowed things down for “Overjoyed”, but the pace of the show picked right back up with “Flaws”, which featured Smith walking into the crowd. He was shaking hands and sharing the microphone with fans.
Bastille continued to churn through some of their new songs, as well as their big hits. One of the highlights of a Bastille show is always when they play “Rhythm of the Night”. Smith gets the crowd to go down low, and then jump up when the song hits the refrain.
Smith seemed to have some sound issues throughout the show. He kept taking his earpieces in and out, and you could see him hand signaling to the sound board several times throughout the show. The issues weren’t noticeable to the audience until the band played “Blame”. Smith’s microphone clearly got turned down, as you could only hear Kyle Simmons on back-up vocals throughout the first verse.
Smith is a great front man, and his stage performance, interaction with the crowd, and his self-admitted “horrible dancing” made up for any sound issues that might have occurred. The band did not take an encore break, but instead wrapped up the show with “Things We Lost in the Fire” and their biggest hit “Pompeii”. The show was over by 10:45 p.m.
Bastille is currently wrapping up the second leg of the North America of their Wild, Wild World tour, with one more date in Atlanta. They’ll be heading to South Africa for a few dates in October, before heading back to the studio for wrap up their third album. You can get more information on Bastille from their website at www.bastillebastille.com.
Have questions about seeing a show at The Fillmore? Want to know more about the Bastille show? Comment below or e-mail me at email@example.com.
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