Built for music from the ground up.
That's not the new tagline for the U2-edition iPod, the new Bose stereo or the Electric Factory. It describes the main concert stage at the newly opened World Cafe Live building at 3025 Walnut. According to Nat Gutwirth, World Cafe's marketing director, the concert venue is designed to be "a temple to live music. The sound quality is like a mini-Kimmel Center."
The 300-seat concert venue, known as Downstairs Live, boasts clear sight lines and a not-so-typical bar. As Gutwirth says, "How many bartenders are going to ask you to be quiet during a concert?"
But while there are three bars in the building, the focus here is firmly on the music. Clair Brothers, the company that has built sound systems for the Ed Sullivan Theatre and the Grand Ole Opry, provided the same service for World Cafe Live.
Even more impressive is the soundproofing that the room requires. "We had to have complete sound blocking in here," says Gutwirth. "You could have three different performances going on in the building at the same time: a recording session taking place in the XPN studios, an open mic-night going on upstairs and a concert down here. Plus, the CSX train runs literally 30-feet behind our building. And that can get pretty loud."
There's no doubt that both the artists and the crowds benefit, as the sold-out shows can attest. Upcoming set lists look like an XPN Allstar playlist. From the throwback bluegrass folk of the Gibson Brothers to the jazz-mastery of the Chick Corea Elektric Band, there is a show for almost every interest.
The upstairs space, known as Upstairs Live, is a combination restaurant and performance venue, designed especially for singer-songwriters. The 100-seat hall is immediately off the main entrance and gradually tapers to a stage at the far side of the room. Nearly every meal features live music, with the evenings hosting a range of events: Wednesday is singer-songwriter night, featuring a game of musical chairs by local Philadelphia artists.Thursday is the debut of "Cross-Pollination," a concept show from NYC that brings in two artists, gives them each their own set, then has them combine for a third set to finish the evening.
This 30th Street extravaganza will soon institute a happy hour, and Upstairs Live currently offers 15% off breakfast and lunch for anyone presenting a Penn, Drexel, CHOP or UPHS ID. With the kind of music, meals and deals that World Cafe Live is bestowing upon Penn and the West Philly community, we should be offering our thanks and praise to this "temple of live music" for a long time to come.
For more information and concert schedules check out www.worldcafelive.com.