Massive Attack | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN
Coronavirus and the Philly Concert Scene: Here’s what we know
Last Update: Monday, March 16th, 10:31 a.m. ET
Speaking to several different Philly-area concert promoters throughout the day today, the common theme is that everything is changing by the hour as fears about the spread of coronavirus continue to escalate.
A brief rundown: while Wells Fargo Center this morning announced that it was closing today for sanitization, an update this afternoon said that it would be cancelling all events through March 31st — including tomorrow’s sold out Billie Eilish concert.
Ars Nova Workshop’s next two concerts — tonight’s Sun of Goldfinger show and the March 18th Caterina Barbieri show, both at Johnny Brenda’s — are cancelled. The Richard Shindell / Lucy Kaplansky concert at City Winery Philadelphia is postponed to fall, as is They Might Be Giants’ Union Transfer concert. Ted Leo’s Dexy’s tribute at Johnny Brenda’s scheduled for this Saturday is also being postponed, with a new date to be announced; the same goes for Dave Hause’s Union Transfer concert on March 14th.
As of press time, tonight’s sold out The Districts concert at Union Transfer is still on. However, the Inquirer is reporting that the City of Philadelphia is “planning to ban all events with 1,000 or more attendees and encourage residents to skip those that will have more than 250 people.” (UPDATE: In a press conference, Philadelphia Thomas Farley confirmed that the city is indeed legally prohibiting gatherings of more than 1,000 people for the next 30 days.)
As news changes and we get additional word from venues and promoters around the city, we’ll update the list below. However, general health advice prevails: wash your hands. Cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough or sneeze. Don’t touch your face (or do your very best to avoid it). And if you’re feeling at all unwell, self-quarantine: even if you have tickets for something that has not been cancelled, no gig is worth putting your health at risk, or the health of others.
ARDMORE MUSIC HALL
The Main Line venue is following Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s mandate that events that hold more than 250 people be cancelled effective March 13th. “Mondo Cozmo tonight is on,” they posted on Facebook. “And then we’ll hit the pause button and all work together to get through this crazy time as quickly and smoothy as possible.” AMH’s events through March 26th have been cancelled, but beyond that, owner Chris Perella tells us they “will be safe and realistic about how we proceed” and anticipate making hour-by-hour decisions in the weeks ahead. Currently the venue’s refund policy remains in place: they don’t offer refunds for shows that play out as planned. “However, we recognize the uniqueness of this situation and are aggregating all fan concerns and contact info as they reach out, so that we can communicate further in the days ahead as we see where this all goes.” The best place to stay on top of updates is their social media channels: @ArdmoreMusicPA on Twitter and @theardmoremusichall on Facebook. (UPDATE 3/16: The venue has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help pay its employees through the end of March. “Our incredible staff, who work tirelessly to provide you with an outstanding experience every time you enter the building, are facing daunting prospects for the 2+ months ahead,” they write in a mailing list message. “This includes everyone from managers, bartenders, security staff, production, maintenance and marketers. These folks are our backbone.” Read more and donate here.)
The Bethelehem ArtsQuest complex sent a message to its email list signed by president Kassie Hilgert noting that “there have been no major changes to our programming. However, we will continue to monitor this situation closely and let everyone know if there are any alterations.” (UPDATE 3/14: The venue has postponed its Musikfest Café performances starting with Saturday’s Jim Messina concert and extending through March 31, as well as the Lehigh Valley Podcast Festival and the SteelStacks High School Jazz Band Showcase.)It directs its audience to ArtsQuest.org for the latest updates, and encourages them to “stay home if you are not feeling well or if you have any underlying health issues.”
THE AVE LIVE
The Delaware Avenue nightclub The Ave Live has cancelled all events through April 11th, including Trampa and OG Nixin (March 13), its twice-rescheduled gig with Yasiin Bey (March 20), Ekai (March 21), Virtual Riot and Calcium (March 27), Dave East and Styles P (March 28), Black Coffee (April 8), and EPROM (April 11). Further details will be announced soon.
BOOT & SADDLE
The venue, located on Broad Street in South Philly, remains open. An e-mail from the venue sent to their mailing list noted that since their max capacity of 200 guests is under the city’s recommended limit, they plan to keep as many of their events on schedule as possible. They have installed hand-disinfectant stations and updated cleaning supplies, and say they are regularly in communication with the City as well as touring artists and their management. “We do expect some tours for April/May to be postponed till later in the summer,” they write. “We know things can change at any moment and we are taking this ‘day by day.’ We will have further news about the shows taking place after March 28th in the days ahead.” Boot & Saddle is also offering full refunds for shows taking place from March 12th through March 28th, if any patrons are uneasy about attending. “If you are attending a show at Boot and have concerns about anything being harmful or unsanitary, please ask for management and we will address it immediately. Let’s work together to keep everyone safe and healthy and having fun.”
CITY WINERY PHILADELPHIA
The new Center City venue / restaurant has not yet made any announcements regarding Coronavirus. However, several shows on its calendar have been cancelled, including Rodney Crowell’s March 21st appearance and Glen Matlock of The Sex Pistols’ March 19th appearance. Follow the events page of their website for news on cancellations. (UPDATE 3/16: City Winery Philadelphia has closed indefinitely.)
FIRE MUSEUM PRESENTS
Experimental concert programmers Fire Museum Presents has cancelled or postponing all events until May. “Here’s hoping that this isn’t an unrealistically optimistic goal,” they write. For more information, visit FireMuseumPresents.org.
FRANKLIN MUSIC HALL
The 2,500-capacity Franklin Music Hall has postponed all events through April 11th, according to an update on Twitter. “Our hope is that we are able to reschedule as many of the affected events as possible, but at this time there is no information on new dates,” they write. “When a new date is announced, there is nothing you need to do: your tickets are valid for the new date and you will be notified. If a show cannot be rescheduled once the moratorium is lifted, a refund will automatically be issued to the credit card used for purchase within 30 business days.” Consult the venue’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Old City performing arts space FringeArts remains open, with all upcoming programming set to continue as scheduled. President Nick Stuccio in a message to its email list writes that the venue and its companion restaurant La Peg have “Doubled our cleaning efforts, disinfecting all public, backstage, and office spaces with bleach. All surfaces—door handles, tables, seats, cash registers, phones—are wiped down daily with anti-bacterial cleaners. Hand sanitizer stations are set up inside La Peg. We also encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds at a time.” While all upcoming events are still on, Stuccio suggests that ticket holders consult the FringeArts website for the most up-to-date information. The venue has also amended its policy so ticketholders who are feeling ill can exchange their tickets for a future event at no cost.
GRAND OPERA HOUSE
All concerts at the historic Wilmington theater have been cancelled indefinitely; they hope to reschedule, but as of now, nothing is on the books. If you have tickets to one of their events, you can keep them until a new date is announced — at which point a new pair of tickets will be issued to you — or you can exchange tickets for a future performance during the season, which runs till July 31st. The Grand also suggests donating your tickets back to the venue. Information can be found at TheGrandWilmington.org.
HOME OUTGROWN PRESENTS
DIY scene production group Home Outgrown tends to organize concerts in the 100 to 200 capacity range at venues like Warehouse on Watts, Ortlieb’s, Voltage Lounge and more. Their next scheduled show is March 28th, and as of right now, promoter Melanie Grinberg tells us that they haven’t yet made any decisions regarding cancelations. “We don’t want to be too reactionary and potentially mess with people’s livelihoods,” says Grinberg, noting that touring bands and venue staff alike rely on events for money. On Home Outgrown’s Facebook page, they write “Remember that music and shows are some people’s livelihoods and that this is effecting a lot of musicians and industry professionals really hard who fundamentally cannot work from home or take sick time.”
Grinberg tells us that as of this morning, they haven’t had any agents reach out to cancel events, but “that could change for any show at any moment.” (UPDATE 3/13: Grinberg tells us that shows through April have been cancelled.) But they say they’re going to keep the dialogue open, and stay up on information about risks, and make the safest decision. “At the end of the day, we’ve always preached safety and this isn’t any different,” says Grinberg. “As hard as it could be to cancel shows, we’ll do our best to postpone them, accommodate, or refund and reschedule for ticket buyers. If anything is canceled we’ll post on all our social media and email ticket buyers.” Social media is the best place for information on cancellations, which is @homeoutgrown on all channels.
The culturally diverse music and dance series Intercultural Journeys has rescheduled No Other But You, its March 19th show at World Cafe Live. They say fans can either hang on to their tickets and join them at another event later this year; return them for a full refund; or donate them back to the organization. “We’ll be in touch over the coming weeks about our April performance,” they wrote to their mailing list. “But know that we’ll make decisions with the safety and comfort of our whole community in mind.” For the most up to date information, visit their Facebook page.
JAMEY’S HOUSE OF MUSIC
The Lansdowne folk venue has cancelled all events going forward, including its Thursday jazz jam and the Sunday Blues Brunch. “We are going to use this time to complete our renovations and finish off the new bar in preparation for our Grand Reopening on May 22nd with Bobby Messano,” they write in an announcement on social media. Furter information and updates can be found at the venue’s Facebook page.
Fishtown venue / restaurant Johnny Brenda’s is remaining open normal hours, but it will keep on top of both changes regarding tours as well as recommendations from the CDC and WHO, and adapt as it goes. A statement emailed to The Key by talent buyer Barrett Lindgren says that the venue has updated its cleaning and sanitization protocol, with restrooms, door handles, and countertops being cleaned rigorously throughout the day. Some shows have been postponed — Ted Leo’s Dexy’s Tribute now takes place Saturday, July 25th instead of Saturday, March 14th — while some remain in place — tonight’s Sudan Archives concert is still on. The venue is fullfilling ticket refund requests for all upcoming shows, and is urging employees, artists, and customers to stay home if they think they may be at risk. “We will do our best to keep you informed of any further updates, as this is very much happening in real time,” Lindgren writes. “We appreciate your continued patience and support as we work through it.” (UPDATE 3/16: Johnny Brenda’s has closed it’s venue as well as the bar / restaurant indefinitely, Lindgren tells us. The business is closed today for a deep clean, and the restaurant will be open for take-out food and beer orders beginning tomorrow. Lindgren says all shows before April 11th will be postponed, or cancelled if necessary, and to stay tuned for rescheduled information.) Latest information from the venue can be found across all social media channels at @johnnybrendas.
Though the national concert promoting company — which in Philly operates The Fillmore, The Met, The Tower, and Theater of Living Arts — has not issued any venue-by-venue statements, many shows are being called off. The Disco Biscuits three-night run of concerts at The Fillmore has been postponed with a new date forthcoming, as has Anti-Flag’s March 19th show at The Foundry. Over at the TLA, Trap Karaoke on Saturday March 14th is postponed, as has Ms. Lauryn Hill’s Tower Theater show. Ticketholders for all these shows are being advised to hold on to their tickets, as they’ll be good for the rescheduled dates. However, the March 14th Sturgill Simpson show at The Met has been canceled, and refunds are being issued at point of purchase. On the national level, Billboard is reporting that Live Nation is instructing its touring shows to remain home. We’ve reached out to Live Nation Philly representatives and will update with more information when they respond.
THE LIVING ROOM AT 35 EAST
The Ardmore listening room on Lancaster Avenue has announced that it will be closed through April 30th in light of coronivirus concerns, and is issuing refunds to all ticket holders. “We want to make sure that our staff, performers and customers are all safe,” writes owner Laura Mann in an email. “We do not know of anyone who has been at the venue who tested positive for COVID-19 and none of our customers should be at risk. This is a temporary precaution.” The venue plans to re-open on May 1st with its Philly Legends of Jazz Festival. Updates can be found on twitter at @thelivingroom35 and facebook at @thelivingroomat35east.
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
The Friday night concert series at the Art Museum has been cancelled through the end of April; more information can be found at the PMA website.
The long-running promoters of folk, rock, and singer-songwriter shows in the region echoes the sentiment that everything is in flux. Most of Point Entertainment’s shows take place at The Locks at Sona in Manauynk, The Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, and MilkBoy in center city. “Our first priority is everyone’s safety,” talent buyer Jesse Lundy tells us over email. “All the venues are following protocol for cleaning and we’re taking this very very seriously But it’s changing every minute with regard to cancellations.”
RECORD STORE DAY
Philadelphia retailers hosting in-store concerts and exclusive sales will be pushing their calendar back a bit, as Record Store Day is being pushed back two months from April 18th to June 20th. “No one knows what things will look like in any given place over the next five weeks, but it is imperative that hard decisions for that time period need to be made right now, using current facts. There is no perfect solution. There is no easy answer,” the organization writes in a press release. “And hey! Anything with the April 18, 2020 on it just became that much more special!” Though nothing locally has been firmly announced as far as events, at least this eases our anxiety about flipping through boxes of records.
SCOTTISH RITE AUDITORIUM
The spring series of concerts at Collingswood, NJ’s Scottish Rite Auditorium — beginning with Steve Hackett’s two night engagement this weekend — have been postponed. The venue anticipates putting its programming on pause through May, and dates will be rescheduled for the fall, with all original tickets being honored. For more information, head to Scottish Rite Auditorium’s website.
The Bucks County venue Sellersville Theater will close for shows through Thursday, March 26 and will re-evaluate as more information becomes available. Their box office will remain open for future sales, questions and assistance. “We ask that you are patient with our Box Office staff as they reach out to each ticket holder in regards to cancellations and postponements,” says a mailing list message from the venue. “We are making every effort to keep the music going! Check our website and social media for updates as we have them.” The venue’s adjoining Washington House restaurant remains open.
Union Transfer’s plans to remain open but indefinitely reduce its maximum capacity by 30%, assuring that its concerts will have fewer than 1,000 people attending. “Union Transfer is uniquely designed to accommodate varying audience sizes,” they write in an email. “You may not be aware, but our stage, lights, and sound system can move back and forth. We can essentially shrink (or expand) the room by more than half, based on how many tickets we sell. As a precaution, and for the foreseeable future, we will be leaving our stage in the largest room setting – allowing for all show attendees to give themselves extra space and distance.” The venue has also installed hand-disinfectant stations around the venue and upgraded cleaning supplies, and similar to its sister venue Boot & Saddle, is offering full refunds on shows — but only those taking place between March 12th through March 15th. The best place for further updates is at @UnionTransfer on all social media channels.
VENICE ISLAND PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
The Manauynk performing arts space has postponed two of its programming events: Why I’m Scared of Dance by Jen Childs and the start of its 4-for-Philly film series. They anticipate rescheduling both for this summer. Follow their Facebook page for the latest info.
WORLD CAFE LIVE
Yesterday, the University City music venue that shares a building with WXPN made a Facebook post saying that it is abiding by health code standards while also doing all they can to make sure all events continue as scheduled. Promoter Jeff Meyers reinforces that it’s an ever-changing situation, however, and they will likely revisit this decision as the days and weeks unfold. In lieu of refunds, the venue is offering future admission: “If you have tickets for an upcoming WCL show in March and feel that you should not attend due to illness, please let us know and we will provide you with a voucher for a future show.” Follow the venue at @worldcafelive across all social media channels for updates. (UPDATE 3/16: World Cafe Live has closed its doors through March 31st and is postponing or cancelling call concerts in that timespan. “We’ll be honest – this is a big blow for our staff,” says a mailing list message. “These are the folks who make WCL what it is – the people who take your ticket, serve your meal, pour your beer, mix the music, and more. They are losing money they count on. With our doors closed, we won’t have the funds to pay some of our staff. For hourly workers especially, even two weeks is a long time. This is also a big blow for World Cafe Live as an organization. We depend on our full slate of concerts, events, and dining.” To help assist their team, the venue has launched a MightyCause campaign that has raised just under $15,000 since Saturday. Learn more and donate here.)