FIDLAR at First Unitarian Church

In its nearly three-year existence, the West Philly DIY venue Golden Tea House was able to transform the scene by packing in names, small and big, each week. As someone who just moved to Philly this year for school, the GTH was one of my first house show experiences and allowed me in to their all-ages space with open arms.

The announcement of the GTH closing was something to be expected, yet at the same time caught off-guard due to the number of shows they already had booked. And as a close-knit music scene, we’ve seen in the past week many of Philly’s DIY venues jump into action to pick up the former GTH shows. One of the more unexpected venues to come out of the woodwork is the First Unitarian Church, which is mostly booked by R5 Productions.

Back in September, R5 announced that due to the opening of other Philly venues like Union Transfer and Boot & Saddle, it became more difficult to book bands at the Church. The Church relied on R5’s rental income and reached out to an after-school program that would take place in the Church basement. This program would thus cut down on the amount of shows able to run in the basement.  This statement had Philly concert-goers believing it was the end of an era.

But, in light of the GTH closing, the Church picked up tonight’s LVL UP, Girlpool, Dogs On Acid and Free Cake for Every Creature show. Tickets are available to purchase online, which is a strange feeling since roughly a week ago, your only option would be to wait in a line outside the West Philly row home. The February 21st show with Iron Chic, After the Fall, The Holy Mess and Ma Jolie was also picked up by R5 and will be held at The Church; the Clique, Loose Tooth, Ghost Gum and Mumblr will also be at The Church, though it’s not via R5.

This is just a guess, but R5 – established promoters with punk roots – may have saw this unfortunate event as an opportunity to bring back another historical aspect of the Philly music scene. The Church has hosted a slew of names that made it to the big leagues like indie rockers Arcade Fire, who played at the venue in 2004. Rolling Stone magazine named the Church as one of the top alternative rock venues back in 2007. Other DIY-venues helping take up the GTH leftovers are Creep Records Store and Girard Hall. The Church has a longer history than the GTH, so if this is a comeback for the R5 venue – even if it’s a brief one – maybe the scene won’t be facing such a devastating loss after all.