Over the past few years, Philadelphia has gained a reputation as a punk rock mecca— and with good reason.
Every year, great bands crop up in the city faster than shitty bands get added to the Warped Tour and it seems like more and more people across the country have started to pay attention to the music coming out of Philly.
As expected, some of this attention from outsiders has provoked the typical rallying cries from local Internet dinguses – “You don’t know anything about our scene, maaaan!” “Where were you five years ago?!?!” “All those bands you mentioned suck and you completely overlooked the ambient techno my friend Barry makes under the name Elfsblood!!!!” etc.
But the truth is Philadelphia’s punk scene is one worth shining a spotlight on.
Words like “scene” and “community” get thrown around a lot in the context of punk music and most of the time they’re meaningless. Philadelphia, however, is one of the few exceptions. For a relatively big city, the people who make music here, punk and otherwise, are remarkably close. It’s a tight-knit but extremely welcoming group.
This is not Brooklyn, where a bunch of weirdos in tight pants are trying to out-cool each other. In Philadelphia, the weirdos in tight pants support each other.
Our first introduction to Philly’s punk community came via a good friend of ours named Rob Malloy, who was running the “Acoustic Sesh,” an open mic night held at a bar in South Philly. Name your favorite Philly-based punk band and there’s a good bet you’ll find one or all of their members hanging out at the Sesh at some point.
Back in 2011, we had just recently formed Corporate Hearts and someone told us we should get in touch with Rob, who at the time was playing in the Holy Mess, one of our favourite Philly bands. The idea of it was intimidating, but Rob, being the gentleman that he is, told us to come down and play a few songs. We did, fully expecting to embarrass ourselves and be laughed out of town by a snobby clique of jaded punks.
Instead, we were instantly welcomed by Rob and the rest of the community. We were and continue to be shocked by the lack of exclusivity in Philadelphia’s punk scene, despite the fact that 99 percent of the people in it appear to be next-door neighbors.
For a couple of nice suburban boys trying to make it in the big city, it was and still is encouraging.
Since that first Sesh, we’ve met tons of cool musicians, show promoters and party throwers, all of whom have helped us continue to play in and around the city. We’ve been playing in bands for half our lives and there was a long stretch where it was damn near impossible to book a decent show or to meet other bands that weren’t out solely for themselves. But, ever since we started Corporate Hearts, things have been much different.
There’s a very genuine enthusiasm for music in Philadelphia and, instead of jealousy, there’s a real sense of mutual admiration among the bands here. Sure, there are exceptions. But for every dickhead you meet, there are 10 cool people who make you feel like you’re part of something special.
If you’re putting out a new record, someone in another band is always ready to spread the word about it.
If you’re playing a show, friends come out to watch.
The biggest problem in Philadelphia’s music scene is that, on any given night, there are at least three killer shows happening somewhere in the city.
All in all, I’d say that’s a good problem to have.
By Zack from Corporate Hearts