Exploring the state of the Philly music industry with WXPN, Chill Moody, Chris Ward of Pattern is Movement and Katonah Coster of Fame House
It’s been an incredible year for Philly music. I mean, it’s always an incredible year for Philly music – there is no shortage of talented Philadelphia artists creating and releasing compelling music. But what’s made 2014 particularly exciting is the number of locals that are transcending the local scene and making waves nationally.
Strand of Oaks (pictured) released the incredible HEAL on Dead Oceans Records in June, and pretty much spent the entire year on a national headlining tour playing sold out venue after sold out venue. West Philly rapper Chill Moody made his SXSW debut in March at a club in 6th Street in Austin, and released a remarkable run of singles in the months since. Art punk favorites Hop Along played a string of high-profile shows (including frontwoman Frances Quinlan singing with Weezer at The Trocadero) and were picked up by Saddle Creek Records, who is releasing their new album next year. New records from old favorites The War on Drugs and Pattern Is Movement were released to critical acclaim, and emerging bands like Cayetana and Modern Baseball dropped break-out LPs that expanded their fan base across the country.
So what’s making the Philadelphia music scene shine nationally in 2014? That’s a question we’re exploring at tomorrow night’s State of Young Philly event Philly’s Remastered Sound: A Music Economy Flourishing. WXPN’s Bruce Warren will lead a panel discussion featuring Chill Moody, Chris Ward – drummer for Pattern is Movement and talent buyer at Johnny Brenda’s – and Katonah Coster, VP of marketing at Fame House and myself. (I’m also DJing before the talk, and super-catchy R&B artist Beano will play a set after.) The free event at Underground Arts begins at 8 p.m., and you can RSVP here.
Ward sees local fans as a big driver behind the scene. “The old adage, ‘build it and they will come’ presupposes an engaged ‘they’ and that is not always the case,” he says. “However, in Philly, we do have an engaged and informed music fan base and that’s a piece of the equation that is central not just to growth but sustainability.”
Coster echoes his thoughts about the supportive community: “No matter what your style or taste is, you will find people who share and support your passion and want to help you make it happen,” she says. “I’ve seen this countless times since I first got involved in Philly’s music community, and that support creates opportunities to innovate – both creatively and in business.”
It definitely explains the surge in venues popping up locally in recent years. Union Transfer, MilkBoy, Boot and Saddle, Underground Arts and PhilaMOCA have all gotten off to a strong start, while established rooms like World Cafe Live, The Barbary, Kung Fu Necktie, The TLA and Ward’s Johnny Brenda’s continue drawing crowds.
Moody sees the growth as a long time coming. “What makes Philly’s music scene amazing is our potential, the nationwide awareness of our growth, and our drive to ‘re-gain’ that spotlight we deserve,” he says. “Everyone is working hard, from the artist to the journalist covering the scene, and it seems like everyone is finally on one accord. We all want our city to shine, and it’s showing.”
WXPN’s State of Young Philly event takes place at Underground Arts Wednesday, November 19th at 8 p.m. Admission is free, attendees can RSVP here.