Something Alternative: Philadelphia’s local music scene and why it’s great

By Francesca Fortunato

Growing up in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area local musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, etc. were what I was brought up to know as “local music”. Once I began to develop musical tastes of my own and started going to local shows I found that no matter where in the world I end up the Philly music scene will always hold a special place in my heart.


One of the first bands that I remember liking before I knew they were from Philly is The Starting Line. With three albums under their belt, countless headline tours and festivals, a hiatus, and a reunion this pop/punk band is definitely one to keep an eye on. After seeing them live twice; three years ago when they announced their reunion, and in December 2012 when they played their first album ‘Say It Like You Mean It’ in it’s entirety to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the album, they have easily become one of my favorite bands to watch perform live. Maybe it’s the atmosphere of being at a hometown show or maybe it’s just the nostalgia of hearing the songs that got me through prepubescent times in high school, but regardless The Starting Line is at the top of my list of Philly bands to watch. The band will be playing one more 10 year anniversary show of ‘Say It Like You Mean It’ in London on April 26 at The Forum.

Following them is a pop/punk band from Lansdale, PA that is quickly making a name for themselves even after opening for The Starting Line this past December. The Wonder Years are a band that I only recently started listening to and am so glad that I did. This band put on a fantastic live show full of energy, crowd participation, and of course, huge mosh pits. Their fast paced and energetic sound works perfectly with their lyrics based on places scattered around Philadelphia and personal experiences from front man Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell. The band will be performing in the UK this summer at the Slam Dunk Festival this May 25-27.

Hailing from Scranton, PA are The Menzingers, a four-piece punk band that have developed a very loyal following throughout the Philly music scene in the past six years. Touring with bands such as Anti-Flag and Against Me! The Menzingers have a pure old school punk sound that is really refreshing to hear. The passion and the heart that is evident in their songs make The Menzingers a great example of local music at its best.

Our last Philly band to check out is Pissed Jeans coming from Allentown, PA with four full lengths and a different type of punk rock sound. Pissed Jeans are one to look out for with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude and the music to back it up. With less personal lyrics than the other bands and more playful and immature songs, don’t let that turn you off to these guys. Pissed Jeans put on a great show and have really found a way to develop their own unique sound that draws the audience in.

The atmosphere varies no matter where you go, even within the US, however I’ve found the UK music scene to be very much more “DIY”. Walking through the York city center I’ve seen bands such as The Buffalo Skinners playing on the street, not necessarily for profit, but to gain exposure. After seeing this band on the street I looked them up and was impressed that such a talented group was apparently “busking”, only to later find out that they come from Scarborough, where I’m currently living.

Local music can be defined not necessarily as music from the place you grow up, but music that triggers memories of youth and good times. While I’m still exploring local bands in the York area and finding a great music scene here, the memories of going to shows on school nights and staying out past curfew to see the local Philly bands are some that I’ll never forget. However, I find myself making room for more memories with new local bands.

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