WRITTEN BY: Nicole Meilinger
Philly Music Fest has hit the city and I already can’t wait to see what additional restaurants, artists and musicians will be highlighted from Philadelphia next year. The festival’s first year was a blast thanks to Greg Seltzer’s idea to launch a festival that paired incredible music coming out of Philadelphia with delicious Philadelphia based bites.
The result is a festival that offers good music in addition to the great food and beverage expected by pulling together Philadelphia’s finest. In fact, there is an unmistakable Philadelphian twist to just about every aspect of the festival. After attending the festival for both days, I couldn’t be more excited to explore a city I already love with new places to check out for dinner, along with a bunch of new artists to listen to on Spotify.
On both Friday and Saturday of Philly Music Fest there was a carnival of food trucks and tents lining both sides of the street. Along the line I found Righteous Felon’s tent full of all natural craft jerky with a villainous twist. I was able to sample a selection of their delicious jerky from their mildest flavor, OG Hickory, to their spiciest, Voodoo Chile. If jerky isn’t your thing there are plenty of other options including Waffles & Wedges, The Chilly Banana, Pbon’s Fresh Phood of Philly, and The Spicy Belly, unique eats with a Jamaican-Korean fusion.
Past the trucks and tents I was handed a cold water bottle from the Essentia water camp and contemplated getting a trim from the pop up American Crew station offering free haircuts. I opted for some free shampoo and conditioner instead and headed up the stairs towards the cafe. If you’re lucky you might catch one of your favorite Philly artists at the artist check in tent, or maybe you’ll meet them in the lobby like I did.
Music fills the space as soon as you walk through the doors and are greeted by a rainbow of sprinkled glazed donuts, courtesy of Federal Donuts. Who knew donuts went well with beer? Philly Music Fest makes it easy to find the perfect combination whenever you take a bite with satellite bars throughout the venue in addition to a choice to over 20 taps at each of its three stationary bars. When asking patrons what their favorite part about the fest was they didn’t hesitate to shout, “The beer!”
Drink or no drink, the showcased bands fill the dark-wooded, low lit, comfortable space with the sound that creator Greg Seltzer felt encapsulated the current sound coming out of Philadelphia. A mix of rock, alternative, and garage pop set the vibe during sets. Big names like Strand of Oaks, Cayetana, Steve Gunn, and Work Drugs rock the stage along with other Philadelphia born bands. Keep your eyes peeled while the artists aren’t on stage; I caught Ceramic Animal looking dapper in matching maroon suits in the lobby before their set and browsed merchandise alongside Kississippi lead singer Zoe Allaire. What truly sets this festival apart was its smallness. There is a certain level of intimacy that allows each festival goer a chance to interact with the artists behind their favorite songs, connecting them to the beat of the city and to the artists they admire.
The bottom level is full of fresh art finds. Handmade and intricate jewelry made by Mauricio Riaño of Selah Jewelry Design catches the light and colorful, evocative prints from Makeba or “Keebs” catch the eye. Not unlike the Jamaican-Korean fusion food tent found outside, both Riaño and Abena Nyarko of Know My Arts are examples of the international taste woven within the festival as consequence of focusing on locality, Riaño hailing from Colombia and Nyarko from Ghana. This is where Philly Music Fest absolutely soars; in focusing on the local flavor unique to Philadelphia we are reminded of the international flavor and sound that infuse it. Seltzer reinvigorates pride in our city by reminding us of all it has to offer through something as simple as the enjoyment of music and food, as well as reminding us of its universality.