What to look forward to in the Philly Music Scene in 2024 - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

We all survived January quite well, if I may. Despite sickness, raging snow storms, and few hours of gray sunlight, the Philly music scene is still alive and well. If you’ve been huddled under a blanket for most of 2024 so far, worried you’ve been missing out on our town’s thriving independent music scene, give yourself a break. There’s a whole new year of “IRL content” (forgive me) to look forward to. There’s already plenty of shows and new releases to mark on your calendar for 2024, and they’ll be there for you when you’re ready to brave the freezing temperatures outside, and come out of winter hibernation. Just take it from artists and doers like John Kim Faye (who performed at XPN’s Home for the Holidays just last month), Sophie Coran, Noel Scales, and more: there’s plenty of music to look forward to in 2024.

Naturally, we’ll start with the new albums expected in the new year. Philly mainstays like Pissed Jeans, Sheer Mag, and Mannequin Pussy all have big releases coming, and on the same day (March 1st), no less. Also, later in the year, we expect to be blown away by new full-lengths from artists with Philly roots, Waxahatchee (3/22) and Rosali (3/22). If you missed these announcements, they were all shared via XPN’s Music News; join us there to stay updated throughout the year, of course. We also expect to keep you informed of new music by greats such as Moor Mother and Tierra Whack, two more due out in March. As for the freshest and greatest release of 2024 so far, I recommend Are You There God? It’s Me, @ by Philly/Baltimore duo @, a band so hard to find online we’ve linked it for you. 

Of all the talented guests I spoke to for this article, several are preparing for their own releases this year, including power pop vet John Kim Faye, who will share his first full-length album since 2015. Loungey piano singer-songwriter Sophie Coran, who gave a memorable performance at last year’s Philly Music Fest, also finished a years-long collection of songs to be released this year. “I’m sure we will see a ton of new releases as the year unfolds,” she mentions, while shouting out busy collaborators like Trap Rabbit, Kyle Sparkman, and Julia Pratt (who joins Sammy Rae & The Friends on tour this February). “2024 seems bright!”

Julia Pratt | photo by Paige Walter

Engineer and producer Matt Poirier, who works at the esteemed Miner Street Recordings in Fishtown, also had some unreleased gems to add to the list. “There are a lot of new records I’m stoked for this year, but two specific ones that I can mention are a new EP from Hauntress that we just wrapped up, and Maria Mirenzi’s new (and first) solo record. Both of which are stunningly good.” A word to Philly musicians looking to record at Miner Street or who have enjoyed their time there already: the studio will be relocating at the start of 2025, making 2024 the last year of their 20-year reign in the Fishtown neighborhood. Poirier mentions he’s looking forward to the sessions they have booked so far for this year, and that they’ll “give that space the send-off that it deserves.”

With all this new music in the pipeline, live performances will inevitably follow. Lately, I spoke to funk bandleader Taylor Kelly, who spearheaded a new jam session, Iris Music Showcase, hosted at Callowhill’s Silk City Diner. Read more about it here, but the gist is this: Kelly designed a jam session around women vocalists in the scene, inspired by the legacy of Philly’s iconic showcase Black Lily. And I’m happy to report that their first session, which happened on January 17th and probably the coldest day of the year so far, was a great success. Iris returns to Silk City every third Wednesday of the month–that’s February 21st this month. Rosalie Swana, Reese Florence, and Zayna Youssef (of Sweet Pill) are signed on to sing.

Sweet Pill | photo by Paige Walter

Similar to a jam session, Philly’s DIY festivals are a great way to experience what the scene has been cooking up recently. John Faye mentioned he was looking forward to the third annual Sweet Juice Festival, which will likely take place again in July, with a special festival preview show and fundraiser coming in the spring. Faye also mentioned another independent festival, one he himself is hosting: the Asian American and Pacific Islander Music Festival on May 11th at World Cafe Live. The lineup features local talent Moonroof, Judah Kim, Alyssa Garcia, Beau Frères, and John Faye. And while we’re talking festivals, I’d be remiss not to mention that XPoNential returns to Wiggins Park on September 20th through 22nd; tickets will be available sooner than you realize.

American Trappist at Sweet Juice Festival | photo by Paige Walter

A New Year’s resolution we can all make together is visiting new (or new-to-you) venues in the city. I’ve dubbed it “collecting stamps in your Philly music scene passport.” Haven’t checked out Ars Nova’s jazz iteration of the old Boot & Saddle, Solar Myth? Catch a late show with avant-garde quartet The Bad Plus (which sometimes features Philly pianist Orrin Evans) on March 1st. What about local music promoter 4333 Collective’s flagship venue Ukie Club? Kassie Krut plays Ukie on March 1st, and Shannen Moser plays on March 22nd — two more shows worth putting on the calendar. We love a good independent music venues in Philly (here I talk about their importance), so branch out and get more stamps in that passport. To name a few more, The Khyber Pass Pub is hosting shows on and off again this year, Ortlieb’s is Northern Liberties’ greatest small talent incubator, and if you’re reading this and have never been to Johnny Brenda’s…buy your tickets now.

And speaking of new venues, have you heard FringeArts on Christopher Columbus Blvd is throwing free shows almost weekly? Local musician and show-promoter Danielle Lovier spoke to me about their new season of programming. “We noticed there doesn’t seem to be enough venues to support the incredible music scene here in Philly. Nick [Rahn, of the band Grocer] and I have been helping put together shows for local bands and smaller national touring acts in a great space with professional sound and lighting, and an emphasis on treating the artists well,” says Lovier. Already this year, the new Fringe Bar has hosted multiple local artists we’ll be keeping an eye on in 2024, like The Lunar Year, Cadre Noir, Kelsey Cork & The Swigs, and Expo. Keep up with future dates (like February 22 with Grace Vonderkuhn, Puppy Angst, and Babyfang) via the XPN Concert Calendar.

Wrapping it all up, we’re also looking forward to improving this music community we cherish. Notably, there’s been more dialogue among musicians lately about freelance gigging and pay scales. Rapper Noel Scales said one thing she wants to see more of in 2024 is “opportunities for artists to make money and sustain themselves with their art,” and she’s not alone. In January, a group of music workers met at The Lounge at World Cafe Live to share what they’d like to see change in the industry this year. This new initiative aside, Local 77, the Philadelphia Musician’s Union, and United Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) are also fighting for music laborers’ rights. Let’s keep the dialogue going.

Of course, this list is hardly exhaustive. And surely some of the greatest things to happen this year can’t be foretold; that’s part of what makes being involved in the music scene special. And now that the winter weather has done its worst (fingers crossed), we can all get back to it.

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