After several days of speculation about the end of Philadelphia’s Trocadero Theatre, owner Joanna Pang confirmed that the music venue would be closing in late May. Established in Chinatown in 1870, the Trocadero Theatre originally showed musical comedies under the name Arch Street Opera House. Throughout the years, it has served as a stage for vaudeville and burlesque shows, an art house cinema and fine arts theater, a dance club, and finally its current use as a concert hall and live music venue. Listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places, the Trocadero has served as a center of Philadelphia’s culture throughout history.
The loss of the Trocadero will be a major hit to the array of the city’s mid–sized independent music venues. Over the years, it has hosted Bob Dylan, Kacey Musgraves, Neil Young, as well lesser-known local Philly bands. Beyond live music, it has embraced all types of artistic scenes from zombie proms to drag shows.
Without the Trocadero, independent music booking will become more difficult for promoters and audiences looking beyond big concert booking agencies. Just last year AEG/Browery Presents, a large concert companies, took over the Electric Factory, a previously independent venue, that had offered similar eccentric mid–sized concerts. With Live Nation controlling larger venues such as The Met Philadelphia and The Fillmore, Philadelphia’s music scene is becoming dominated by bigger rooms run by big concert corporations.
Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, another property controlled by concert–giant, Live Nation, has been reported to be “on sabbatical” this summer, with the Inquirer stating that this cancellation of concerts at this site is likely permanent. Penn’s Landing, a vibrant water–front area along the Delaware River, will take a hit as it loses one its largest attractions, which has served as an open–air venue for concerts and The Roots Picnic as well as other small music festivals.
There’s no word about what company, if any, will fill Festival Pier’s void. There is word that Live Nation will be taking their shows to a new venue in Fishtown. This move has not yet been verified and has received mixed responses from members of the community.
It’s hard to determine exactly what the future of Philly’s concert venue scene will look like, but one thing is for sure—change is being driven by large concert corporations. Some of Philly’s best gems are dying out, and one can only hope that the other venues that fill their place maintain Philadelphia’s off–beat and unique music scene.