Philly Music Fest takes over city’s independent music venues for unique shows

The Menzingers will headline two nights of Philly Music Fest.
Jess Flynn

This week, Philadelphia’s robust and exciting music scene will be celebrated as Philly Music Fest takes over venues throughout the city with six unique shows. The festival was founded by Greg and Jenn Seltzer as a way to showcase local musicians and raise money for music education charities, raising $50,000 in 2020 alone. 

The Seltzers have seen the festival grow exponentially in the five years since its inception. Greg—who curates and produces the festival—explained that by operating as a “startup, nonprofit music festival” it allows Philly Music Fest to not only make sure that young burgeoning musicians and venues make fair amounts of money each year, but that they can give back to a musical community in a meaningful way.

Greg Seltzer founded Philly Music Fest five years ago.Chris Sikich

“We get people activated in our independent venues and then we donate all of the proceeds from that festival, we like to use the word we ‘reinvest’, in the next generation of Philly musicians, which are kids in middle school and in high school right now,” said Seltzer. 

The festivities will kick off Wednesday night with a complete takeover of World Cafe Live. Lo-fi pop eccentric Alex G and indie rock phenoms Spirit of The Beehive will be playing The Music Hall, while The Lounge will be showcasing three projects from one of the city’s most exciting new voices, the nearly undefinable poet and musician Camae Ayewa, known to most as Moor Mother. 

Camae Ayewa, known to most as Moor Mother, will perform at World Cafe Live.UV Lucas

Seltzer has been a longtime fan of Ayewa’s music under her many projects and knew he needed to give her many musical personalities the proper showcase this year with three sets; first with Moor Jewelry, then as Moor Mother, and closing out with her spoken word, free jazz ensemble Irreversible Entanglements, whose 2020 album ‘Who Sent You?’ inspired Seltzer to book this special evening. 

“It just occurred to me that I don’t need to find a spot for her at Philly Music Fest,” explained Seltzer. “Why am I trying to match her up with some rock or some folk or some jazz? She’s got the whole diversity thing herself. So, [we decided] just to give her the floor and have her showcase all of her talents.”     

Throughout the week, the Philly Music Fest will host more diverse bills with some notable hometown heroes including a sold out headlining gig from Hop Along at Johnny Brenda’s Thursday night with support from AnnonXL and Lunch. Friday night, soul crooner Son Little will play Milkboy with openers Stella Ruze and Kelsey Cork & The Swigs, while hip-hop rising star Ivy Sole will anchor a show at Rec Philly with support from Barney Cortez and Moses Mosima.     

Rounding out the festival will be two nights headlined by Philly punk greats The Menzingers at Ardmore Music Hall—Saturday night will have openers Control Top and High Noon and Sunday with Queen of Jeans and the West Philadelphia Orchestra.

“It’s tough sometimes when you get a band like The Menzingers who frankly outgrows Philly Music Fest a bit, ” said Seltzer about booking the band at the intimate 600 capacity room. “We came up with [the idea], ‘Let’s offer them two shows instead of one and we’ll have kind of an intimate and really special two-show residency, if you will, for the fans.’”    

As for what the future holds for the festival, Seltzer is taking each year as its comes.

“It’s a question I often get and it’s one that I don’t know the answer to,” he explained. “We’re just trying to keep going this year and stay true to the three core tenets of our mission. If the shows get larger, that would be great. That means we’ll raise more money for organizations and get more bands paid.”

For a full schedule of the Philly Music Fest, including it’s Inside Hustle and Tech Tour discussions, head to phillymusicfest.com

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