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.
On this particular night, we just wanted to grab something quick to eat before the show, so we decided to stop into Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop (www.joessteaks.com). For those of you that have lived in Philadelphia a long time, you might recognize this place by its original name – Chink’s Steaks. The original Chink’s Steaks was opened by Samuel “Chink” Sherman in Northeast Philadelphia in 1949. It quickly became one of Philadelphia’s top cheesesteak destinations. Current owner, Joe Groh, started working at Chink’s when he was a kid – cutting meat and peeling onions in the basement. When Sam passed away, Joe purchased the business from the Sherman family in 1999.
After a lot of protest and debate, Joe decided to change the name of the business. On April 1st, 2013, the name was officially changed to Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop. Those of us that live in the Philadelphia area are very proud of our cheesesteaks, and everyone has their favorite. Our particular favorite is Jim’s Steaks. So, when my husband and I went to Joe’s to grab a bite before the show, we had to try the cheesesteak and see how it compared.
We were pleasantly surprised. In fact, I would list this as my second favorite cheesesteak in the city. The steaks come in small and large. The small was plenty big for me, although my husband went with the large and finished it. We also ordered the Old Bay fries with a side of cheese, which were quite good. Joe’s also has a pickle and pepper bar in the back. Be sure to visit it, as they are great additions to your steak.
All in all, this is a great place to grab a quick bite before the show. They also do take-out, and they are open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday night.
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 Monday night.
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Palm Springsteen is a band out of Los Angeles, CA. Made up of founder Nick Hinman (vocals/guitar), Hayden Tobin (guitar), Kyle Sirell (drums), and Luca Buccellati (synthesizer), the band formed around 2014 when Hinman started getting serious about his music and started playing some tracks for friends. His friends encouraged him to put the music out, and Palm Springsteen was born.
Influenced by ‘80s artists like Gary Numan and New Order, their music has that ‘80s synthesizer punk vibe to it. Download their single “Wipeout Beat” here: http://amzn.to/2gMmoMa
Palm Springsteen took the stage at 8:00 p.m. With their palm tree cloth on top of the stand for the synthesizer, the band was full of energy right from the start, with lead singer Nick Hinman dancing around the stage. You can definitely hear the punk influences in their music. On a few of their songs, I could also hear influences of Nine Inch Nails in their guitar riffs.
The band also utilizes a lot of interesting percussion, including a tambourine and a cowbell. In fact, Luca Buccellati showed off his skills during one of the songs when he played the cowbell and the synthesizer at the same time.
The band announced to the crowd that this was their first U.S. tour, and they were grateful for the time they had on the road with Foster the People and all the fans they had met. Based on their set, I think Palm Springsteen has a bright future. Their sound is unique and they are big crowd pleasers. The band wrapped up their set at 8:30 p.m.
Palm Springsteen is just starting to build its following. Keep up to date with them and any upcoming shows by following them on social media.
FOSTER THE PEOPLE
Foster the People was formed in 2009 in Los Angeles, CA. The band members include Mark Foster (vocals), Sean Cimino (guitar), Isom Innis (keyboards), and Mark Pontius (drummer). Mark Foster started the band after spending a number of years as a struggling musician, who was making a living as a commercial jingle writer.
Foster had been looking to form a band, when he met Pontius who was a film school student. Pontius was impressed with Foster’s songwriting abilities. They added Foster’s friend, Cubbie Fink, as their bassist, and the group was up and running. Originally called Foster & the People, the “&” was eventually dropped when people continued to mishear the name as Foster the People.
The first song the new band recorded was “Pumped Up Kicks”, which Foster posted on his website as a free download in 2010. The song went viral, and it resulted in the band getting a record deal from Startime International. They released their debut album – Torches – in 2011. With the official release of “Pumped Up Kicks”, the song became a huge hit on the radio and gained Foster the People national attention. The band received three Grammy award nominations for both the album and the single.
The band’s sophomore album – Supermodel – was released in March of 2014. In September of 2015, original member, Cubbie Fink, announced he was leaving the group.
Their third, and most recent album – Sacred Hearts Club – was released in July of 2017. It was the first album that touring members Isom Innis and Sean Cimino were listed as “official” members of the band. You can download the album here: http://amzn.to/2gLVKTG
Foster the People took the stage at 9:00 p.m. Dressed in a black leather jacket, Mark Foster and the band went right into one of their songs off their new album – “Pay the Man”. This was followed by one of the songs off their first album – “Helena Beat” – which featured a great light show.
The band then went back into its new material, and played “Doing It For the Money”. It continued to be a theme throughout the show, that the band alternated between some of their older hits and fan favorites, and songs from their new album. I liked the approach, as it kept the crowd engaged throughout the show. Sometimes bands front load their shows with their new stuff, and back load it with the hits. While that makes a great end of the show, it can be painful to get through at the beginning if you aren’t familiar with a band’s new work.
The other thing the order of the set list did, was really show off the variety of Foster the People’s music. While the songs off their first album like “Helena Beat”, “Don’t Stop”, and “Pumped Up Kicks” all have a more electronic sound and could almost be described as pop music, the stuff off their Supermodel album like “Are You What You Want to Be” and “Coming of Age” tend to lean towards a more rock style. The music off their new album – Sacred Hearts Club – tends to have more of a hip hop sound to it.
Mark Foster is a talented front man. He’s also a front man of few words. The band played the first three songs before Foster addressed the audience at all, and then it was just a quick thank you to the crowd, where he also mentioned that it had been a while since they had played Philadelphia. He said very little throughout the show, with the exception of a short speech at the end of the set before going into “Pumped Up Kicks”.
Despite his lack of interaction with the crowd through talking, Foster’s enthusiasm during the show did the talking for him. I was close enough to be able to see his facial expressions during the show, and there were times where he showed pure joy and happiness. He’s also a bit of a dancer, often bouncing to the beat of the music.
One of the highlights of the show, was the band doing “Lotus Eater” straight into a cover of the Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop”. It was a great cover. I was really impressed with Foster’s vocals on the song. The crowd loved it so much, that a young girl standing near me danced her glasses right off her face! They ended up on the floor near me, about a foot away from her.
As mentioned above, Foster gave a bit of a speech towards the end of the set. He spoke about how there were a lot of things going on in the world that weighed heavily on him when he wrote the Sacred Hearts Club album. Because of that, he wanted the album to be more joyful, as he believes music is a universal language that can bring joy and love to people around the world. After the speech, the band played their marquee song – “Pumped Up Kicks”. As it was now 10:30 p.m., I figured that was it. However, we got one more song before the band walked off stage.
Not sure if we would get an encore, as it was now after 10:30 p.m. and the band had run through most of their hits, the crowd held on since the house lights did not come on. After just a couple of minutes, the band walked back on stage and played “Ruby” and then another hit from their first album – “Houdini”. The band went into their final song, which was yet another hit from their first album – “Call It What You Want”. The guys from Palm Springsteen joined them on stage, and we got a fantastic version of this song featuring drum solos from both drummers on stage, as well as a big dance party from all the guys.
Overall, I was very impressed with the show. They played a full 2 hours of non-stop music. The light show was impressive. Mark Foster showed off the band’s talents and diversity.
Foster the People is currently touring throughout the U.S. in support of their Sacred Hearts Club album. They wrap up the tour at the end of October, and then head to New Zealand and Australia at the end of December and into January. You can see all of the band’s upcoming tour dates at www.fosterthepeople.com.
Have questions about seeing a show at The Fillmore? Want to know more about the Foster the People show? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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