It’s tempting to talk about insider art and outsider art, but in Philly you’ll find that art happens on a continuum, especially when it comes to music and performance art.
Sure, you can go to the Kimmel Center and see the Philadelphia Orchestra or the opera, but you can also sign up for a SoLow Festival performance where the performers, often solo, make art happen in parking lots, cars, public places, and even private homes. Somewhere in between these extremes you’ll find two beloved venues.
The dark, broody space has a distinctly punk rock atmosphere.
Descend the stairs at 1200 Callowhill and you’ll find yourself underground in more ways than one. Underground Arts is primarily a music venue, but also hosts theatre and spoken-word performances of all kinds. The dark, broody space has a distinctly punk rock atmosphere, and though you’ll occasionally find your favorite punk and metal bands playing the two performance spaces, you’ll also find indie music of all kinds plus the nouveau Balkan sounds of the West Philly Orchestra, film screenings, stand-up comedy, and story slams by First Person Arts.
Back aboveground, venture into the shadow of the Ban Franklin Bridge on the Delaware and you’ll find FringeArts, a vibrant performance space, restaurant, and beer garden housed in a former water pumping station. While conventional theaters draw firm boundaries between performers and audience members, FringeArts breaks them down in this malleable space where performances might include dance, theatre, or music in an ever-evolving conversation.
FringeArts is the year-round home for what began as an annual festival (and runs this September 3-19), that though well-attended, was impermanent. Now, the permanent FringeArts space hosts performers year found from far and wide in addition to offering a home for Philly’s local performance community.
The presence of celebrated on-site restaurant La Peg, means that dinner and a show don’t have to be a throwback, and since the venue includes spaces for hanging out you’ll have no trouble finding a place to grab a beer and discuss the show.