Local listening bars put a new spin on an old idea

listening bars Philadelphia
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Throughout Philadelphia, a handful of new venues have emerged to put a new and unique spin on an old treasure.

Solar MythGab Bonghi

In the last two years, the city has seen the opening of four new vinyl listening rooms—old-school-style bars that feature music played on vinyl records. Modeled after “Jazz Kissa” — listening bars in Japan that feature high-quality stereo systems and a large vinyl record collection kept on-location — Philly’s Solar Myth, 48 Record Bar, The Vinyl Bar at Milkcrate Cafe, and LMNO’s Listening Room have all opened in the last two years, providing a novel experience for discerning music fans and patrons.

While many record bars have opened throughout the country, Philly has put a unique spin on the concept as these new bars have dovetailed with the city’s rich DJ culture and live music scene.

Solar Myth is a new cafe, bar, and live music venue dedicated to avant-garde jazz. Located at 1131 S. Broad Street near Ellsworth, Solar Myth occupies the site of the old Boot & Saddle music venue which closed in 2020. The team behind Solar Myth is led by Evan Clancy of Fountain Porter Tavern and Mark Christman, the founder and executive artistic director of Ars Nova Workshop. While the back room of Solar Myth is an intimate live music venue hosting sold-out shows with avant-garde jazz musicians from around the world, the front of the venue is closer to a Kissa-style bar/cafe.

Both The Listening Room at LMNO and Milkcrate Cafe’s late-night Vinyl Bar offer a more energetic alternative to the low-key atmosphere of a traditional record bar. Both The Listening Room and Milkcrate’s Vinyl Bar have been booking some of the city’s best DJs to play from their vast collections while patrons drink, mingle, and dance.

48 Record Bar is a high-fidelity audiophile lounge located above Sassafras Bar in Old City. 48 also features a wide range of programming, with guest selectors to album/cocktail pairings, record release parties, and a Hi-Fi Tea On Sunday series. 48 Record Bar’s creative director Joey Sweeney told Metro that listening rooms are catching on because patrons are looking for more out of nightlife.

“I think what’s capturing people’s minds about the idea of listening rooms is that they place a bigger focus on intimacy, on dedicated listening,” Sweeney said. ”You’re going to a place where you come out with something more than a hangover.”