Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to concerts

Although going to see Lil’ Wayne lay down some rhymes at Susquehanna Bank Center or witnessing Bruce Springsteen burn through all his hits at the Wachovia Spectrum might be adrenaline packed nights of music and spectacle, the real concert gems of the area lie in less exposed, smaller venues throughout the city of brotherly love.  Smaller venues like the Electric Factory or the Theatre of The Living Arts provide a more intimate experience with great music that is not as popular as most of the bands that perform in stadiums. These concert halls host a few hundred people each, depending on the venue. Places such as the Trocadero and First Unitarian Church also eliminate the problems presented in arena shows; they refine sound quality, regulate temperature and have more friendly security systems than the arenas.

Tickets are also much less expensive, averaging around twenty dollars a pop.  Some of these hosts do not provide seats, however, but most of the participants prefer standing rather than sitting at shows. “ Standing up adds to the experience” says frequent concert-goer Spencer Diehl  (’10). “You really get into the music at these smaller concerts.” Here’s a look at some upcoming concerts at local venues.

Dr. Dog- Oct. 23, 24- TLA- One might say Dr. Dog are indie veterans. They’ve been around since the mid- nineties, have released five critically acclaimed albums and have a very loyal fan following. Their comparisons are more than flattering, mostly being likened to the Beatles, Beach Boys and the Band. A homegrown Philly band like Dr. Dog should put on a great spectacle on their two night extravaganza, which takes place on the 23rd and 24th  of October at the Theatre of the Living Arts. They have performed on various late- night shows and went on tour with The Strokes, The Raconteurs, Wilco, My Morning Jacket and many others. Songs recommended for Dr. Dog newbie’s are  “Alaska” and the 2008 single “The Ark.”

Andrew Bird- Oct 25- Electric Factory- Andrew Bird is truly a renaissance man when it comes to string instruments. He is extremely skilled at violin, guitar mandolin and he is even a prolific whistler. He cites his influences as a classical violin player, but you wouldn’t know it when listening to his revolutionary music. Bird is known to perform alone with a wide variety of instruments (even a glockenspiel) and loop pedals. He travels around to all the instruments creating an elaborate soundscape all by himself. In his more recent albums, Bird adopts a more electronic feel to his deep indie folk- classical combination. Recommended tracks for those new to Andrew Bird include the epic “Anoanimal” and the catchy “Heretics.”

Devendra Banhart- Nov 24- Electric factory- Devendra Banhart’s brand of music is commonly labeled as “freak folk.” His music is commonly categorized with artist such as Iron and Wine, Animal Collective and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. In an interview with the New York Times, Banhart comments on the term “Freak Folk:” “It’s cool – you have something to call it- but we didn’t name it… we just call it the family.” Banhart has released six studio albums, with one on the way this month, headlined the famous music festival Coachella and appeared as himself in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist in 2008.  He is known to soulfully sing in English, Spanish and French, and implement acoustic guitar and a string ensemble. Recommend tracks include a friendly anthem about mortality called “I Feel like a Child” and the sultry Spanish “Carmensita.”

Concerts at smaller venues are the best place to experience live music. Even if you don’t know the band, you’ll have a great time just going and checking out the music. If your looking for more local concerts, visit and go the Philadelphia Concerts page for a list of all upcoming events.