Kudos go to Philadelphia City Paper’s John Vettese for his inquisitive and well-sourced article from Feb. 23 on the growing number of rock clubs in Center City and why that influx is occurring in 2012.
Vettese’s article makes an astute observation: besides The Trocadero, there weren’t many rock venues in or around Center City. That, according to Vettese and his sources, has resulted in fragmented audiences: “You can play a show in South Philly, and you’ll only see that crowd in South Philly,” says Goldilocks Gallery’s Matthew McDermott.
Vettese goes on to highlight three new or recent Center City rock venues: MilkBoy Philadelphia, Goldilocks Gallery and The Level Room. Not only does Vettese speak with six sources, including the owners of MilkBoy and Goldilocks, but he also puts the clubs’ openings in context, looking back (albeit briefly) at the past 35 years of live rock music in Center City.
Where the article truly shines, however, is in Vettese asking two very relevant questions:
- Why are rock venues returning to Center City in 2012?
- Can Philly support these added venues moving forward?
Vettese and his sources find two reasons for rock’s return in 2012: surprisingly reasonable rent levels for the Center City location and the ease-of-use of public transportation to get in and out of Center City – something not easily done in Fishtown or Northern Liberties.
As for the future of venues, Vettese succeeds in getting both positive and negative viewpoints from people who have good insight into if this number of new venues can succeed, including longtime Philly promoter Sara Sherr.
Finally, Vettese gets added points for tracking down R5 Productions’ Sean Agnew, who is reportedly notoriously difficult to get in touch with.
The article isn’t perfect. Vettese fails to speak with anyone associated with The Level Room. In an article where the venue is one-third of the story, that’s a tough sell. He instead speaks with Sherr, who, while a welcome voice, doesn’t quite add the heft that a representative from The Level Room would have.
But overall, Vettese has clearly done his homework, speaking with six sources and putting the article in historical perspective while addressing the present situation (Why now?) and the future situation (Can the city sustain this?). That, in my opinion, is good reporting.
– Text by Dan Wisniewski. Image via City Paper.