The Show Goes On: Johnny Brenda’s, Kung Fu Necktie, Festival Pier are still rocking on Pope weekend
It’s been 36 years since the the Pontiff has graced our city. While many are excited for this historic event, there are just as many — if not more — who are either planning to hole themselves up in their home or flee Philly for more the burbs or the shore. Don’t worry, though. For those braving the Papal lockdown, there are still plenty of concerts in the Philly area to help you momentarily escape the bedlam of the weekend.
Today we’ll give you a rundown of what’s still going on, beginning with what’s happening in Philly proper.
Despite being marketed as Pope Weekend, Pope Francis will not actually arrive in Philadelphia International Airport until Saturday morning, meaning that Friday’s slate of shows will (mostly) go on without a hitch.
The biggest of these shows is Alt-J performing at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing. The English quartet is one indie rock’s most quickly ascending bands, blending folk, pop and modern rock all with the help of computer-crafted layering and looping.
There promises to be a substantial crowd at Festival Pier on Friday – and it will luckily be relatively unaffected by the Papal visit. There will be some SEPTA station closings, including Suburban Station on the Regional Rail, 15th St and 5th St on the Market Frankford Line, City Hall on the Broad Street Line, and the 15th Street Trolley Stop. Regional rail will be running on a modified schedule, and there will also be no late night train service (meaning nothing after about 12:30) – so if the concert seems to be going later than expected, you may want to miss that second encore.
Despite that, your best bet is likely to take public transportation and get off at the Spring Garden Station using the Market-Frankford Line (MFL).
Some of our favorite smaller venues – Kung Fu Necktie, Johnny Brenda’s and Ortlieb’s – will all be open for business this weekend and will have some awesome shows as well. You can find post-rock duo El Ten Eleven bringing their experimental instrumental stylings to Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday alongside alternative rockers Sego. California singer-songwriter, Mikal Cronin will also be at Johnny Brenda’s on Sunday night with The Cairo Gang and The Tough Shits.
On Friday night, Kung Fu Necktie will host legendary hardcore punk band D.O.A. along with special guests In the Whale, Population Zero and The Barren Marys. On Sunday they will welcome Philly’s own Blood Sound, a post-punk band with shoegaze tinge.
Ortlieb’s Lounge will also be up and running this weekend beginning Saturday with a show billed as the Post Francis After-Party featuring none other than Philly’s DRGN KING with fellow psychedelic bands, Spaceface and Needle Points. On Sunday Ortlieb’s will welcome garage-pop goofball Mike Krol with Philly punkers, Likers.
Saturday will not be as easygoing, transportation-wise, and show-goers will have bigger groups of travelers to navigate. The good news is that the shows listed above will not be very affected, as the venues all lie outside of the Papal shutdown zone and the “traffic box.” Johnny Brenda’s, King Fu Necktie are both within a block of the Girard Stop of the Market-Frankford line (one of the few stops still open on the line); for Ortlieb’s, it’s a brisk walk west on Girard and south on 3rd street from the el stop.
For more information on all the concert head over to the XPN Concert Calendar and check out the updated Broad Street Line and Market Frankford Line maps below.