Philly Music 101: The basics everyone needs to know about the Philadelphia scene right now

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |
The Districts | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman |

Philadelphia is a city of many wonders: a buzzing food scene, an established craft beer culture, and a parade of historical landmarks. But one aspect of our city that we are particularly passionate about is our magnificent local music community and all that is has to offer. Here at The Key, we often focus on the particulars of our scene – where artists will be playing each night, brand new local releases, etc. – so much so that we can forget how overwhelming it can be for newcomers to get their bearings.

So for those of you having trouble finding where to start, we are introducing this new Philly Music 101 series as your guide through the wonderful world of the Philadelphia music scene: all of its passionate, loving members, from artists to venues to studios and more. It’s meant to help new fans navigate the scene as much as emerging musicians looking to break in and behind-the-scenes folks trying to get their start. We hope it will illuminate just what makes it so damn exciting for music lovers to live here. To kick it off, here is a by-no-means-complete overview of the different pieces of the Philadelphia music scene that have come together to make up its sturdy foundation. Continue reading →


Philly underground faves Secret Plot played their final show at Lavender Town

Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe | Photo by Emily Ivy Scott
Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe | Photo by Emily Ivy Scott

A Kat Kat Records poster featuring a pink cartoon feline in front of a yellow pentagram stands out at the Philadelphia house show venue, Lavender Town. A celebration of the regional DIY scene three years running, this year’s Kat Kat Phest ran from December 27 to January 1, showcasing Philly punk staples like Mumblr, Marietta, Cyberbully Mom Club, and Clique. But day two of Phest generated mixed emotions for KKP creators Ruben Polo and Dan Anderson; their band, Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe, was on the lineup, playing its last show. Continue reading →


The accidental success of Kat Kat Phest, and how founder Daniel Anderson is building on it this year

The Hundred Acre Woods | photo by Ally Newbold Photography
The Hundred Acre Woods will play opening night of Kat Kat Fest on Saturday | photo by Ally Newbold Photography

Think of last year’s first Kat Kat Phest as an accident that went almost as smoothly as the organizers could have asked for.

“There were seven or eight different bands that hit one of us up saying, ‘Hey, I need a show,’ in a four-day period, “ says the Philly-based indie label founder Daniel Anderson about what happened around this time last year. “By the end of it, all four days had a show, and we were just like, ‘Whatever, let’s just make it a four-day thing with some after shows.’”

Anderson started Kat Kat Records in order to help out friends’ bands and put out their records, so requests for help booking shows in the area were not uncommon. That’s why his friend Ruben Polo (also his band-mate in the local four-piece Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe) started helping out with promoting events, which he also does for a living.

For a last-minute festival with mostly touring bands on the bill, the two organizers couldn’t have imagined it would go so well, even selling out the show on the final day.

“[Our band] left for an eight-week tour after that, and off and on, we were just talking about, ‘Who should we get next year? We should do this for real,’” Anderson says. “Last year’s was kind of an accident. This year is a test to see if we can make it go as well when we’ve actually meant to do it.”

So this weekend, DIY musicians and local music supporters will once again gather for Phest 2, which will span five days, feature eight all-ages shows and boast about 50 bands. The all-festival passes, a bargain at $22, were sold out by December 20. Saturday night’s show with local heroes Smoother and Marietta, as well as New York-based Lemuria headlining, was moved to the North Star Bar after selling out at The Fire. But tickets are still available for all eight shows, a la carte style, at the show’s Facebook event page, and they range from $3 to $10…so it’s still a lot of bang for your buck.

Several bands associated with Kat Kat Records will also play this year’s Phest, including By Surprise, Hightide Hotel and Tyler Daniel Bean. But Anderson and Polo don’t make it a priority to put their own bands on the bill.

“If bands deserve to play cool shows and work really hard and are good people, then they play what they should play,” Anderson says. Continue reading →


Kat Kat Records announces line-up for Phest Two, happening 12/28 to 12/31

Lemura | photo via
Lemuria | photo via

Add this to your list of New Year’s Eve celebrations: Kat Kat Records presents Phest Two on December 28th-31st at The Fire and various other locations around town.  The indoor festival will span four days with seven shows featuring forty bands during both matinee and late night events.  The line-up includes local acts The Hundred Acre Woods, Mumblr, Nicknames and Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe alongside touring bands Lemuria, Elvis Depressedly, Swan of Tuonela and more.  This year’s Phest Two will also mark the second much-anticipated NYE Stinky Smelly reunion, following last year’s midnight set at Maggot House.  Check out the full-lineup and get four day passes here.  Check out some of the performing bands below.

Continue reading →