Philly Music Fest brings diversity and excitement to multiple venues

Sun Ra Arkestra // Photo by Candis McLean

The Philly Music Fest just wrapped up its third showcase over the weekend. The four-night music celebration featured more than 20 acts. With shows at Milkboy Philly, Johnny Brenda’s, and World Cafe Live, these fixating nights, full of stellar musicianship and talent, took fans all over the city. The musically diverse festival also serves as a fund-raiser for local music corporations and institutions.

(Jeremiah Tall//Photo by Candis McLean)

(Jeremiah Tall//Photo by Candis McLean)

Their mission is to “benefit the musicians living and making music in Philadelphia and local music education programs that are educating the next generation about the importance of music.” In 2017, Philly Music Fest donated $15,000 to local music education programs. In 2018, Philly Music Fest donated $25,000. Spokespeople from Girls Rock Philly, Rock to the Future, and several other organizations were at the festival last week. Each member spoke about the great work being done in the city to prioritize music and to keep it thriving in schools and within the community.  The festival truly offers up a special opportunity and experience for the city’s youth.

(Petal // Photo by Candis McLean)

(Petal // Photo by Candis McLean)

Those in attendance on Saturday heard talented acts like Philly singer-songwriter Kiley Lotz, aka Petal. After her 2015 debut Shame, Petal released an intimate sophomore followup, Magic Gone. The Run For Cover Records act toured the world this year. She co-headlined a tour with Camp Cope and supported Shakey Graves on another journey around the globe. The musically immersive vocalist drew the audience in with personal lyrics and a sound that cut right to the emotion of each track.

(Foxtrot and the Get Down // Photo by Candis McLean)

(Foxtrot and the Get Down // Photo by Candis McLean)

Saturday’s venue also featured a two-stage setup, this allowed fans to the full scope of the venue and take advantage of several amenities. Upstairs, acts like Foxtrot and the Getdown, Rosali, Ill Fated Natives, The Thin Lips and more rocked the house. Ken Bianco (bass) and Colin Budny (guitar and vocals) went from West Chester University friends to assembling a six-piece signature band, Foxtrot and the Getdown. The group truly revved up the crowd with their energetic sound full of upbeat swing.

(Ill Fated Natives // Photo by Candis McLean)

Sun Ra Arkestra closed the festivities Saturday night with an out-of-this-world set. The collective, led by alto saxophonist Marshall Allen, had unparalleled stage presence. The celebrated and world-renowned act pulled off a performance that perfectly blended an eclectic barrage of sound and percussion. The space jazz group played with precision during the 50-minute set.

(Sun Ra Arkestra // Photo by Candis McLean)

The harmoniously curated event truly illustrated the captivating spirit of music. From a shirtless and energized hip-hop act to harmonizing singer-songwriters, the musical spectrum was on full display. The exhibition of talent and captivating sound was relentless. Be sure to mark your calendars next year for the music festival’s 4th installment. It will truly be a show that you don’t want to miss.

You can follow Candis McLean on Twitter (@CandisRMcLean) and e-mail her at

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