Ardmore Music Hall is a beloved music venue in the Philadelphia area, renowned for its intimate atmosphere and diverse musical programming. Located in the historic Ardmore neighbourhood, the venue has become a staple of the local music scene, hosting some of the biggest names in music as well as up-and-coming local acts.
Ardmore Music Hall offers something for everyone from its cosy atmosphere to its eclectic lineup of performers. In this feature, we will explore the history of the venue, its unique atmosphere, and its impact on the local music scene.
What is the Ardmore Music Hall?
Ardmore Music Hall is one of Philadelphia’s premier music venues, specialising in state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems. The two-floor site brings together some of the best local and national acts in an eclectic mix of genres from rock & roll to funk, jam, roots, adult contemporary, hip hop, Americana, plus many more.
Despite being on the scene for less than ten years, Ardmore Music Hall has quickly established itself as a favourite destination for music lovers of all ages. The venue offers a range of seating options, from general admission to VIP seating, and a wide range of amenities to make every show a memorable experience. From its state-of-the-art sound system to its full-service bar, Ardmore Music Hall has something for everyone.
Ardmore Music Hall is located in the Philadelphia suburbs of Ardmore, Pennsylvania. The independently-owned venue is located right at the heart of the action on the east side of historic Lancaster Avenue. Visiting music fans can enjoy the surroundings of this diverse and picturesque neighbourhood which is very well-connected, with the venue being just minutes from public transportation.
This spot on East Lancaster Avenue may just top the list of highly-desirable Philadelphia suburban streets. With its independent hair salons, nail studios, car dealerships, IHOPs and taquerias, the location is increasingly appealing for middle-class families looking to settle down outside of the big city.
Helpfully, the Ardmore Amtrak station is just 100 feet away, with regular trains in and out of Philadelphia. The station is also a two-hour commute from New York City and three hours from Washington DC.
Nicknamed ‘The Main Street of the Main Line’, the avenue is perfectly located as a nightspot for out-of-towners as well as those living in central Philly. Despite not being in downtown Philadelphia, the venue is considered an important stop on North American tours.
A music venue has occupied the site for over the last four decades. Within this period, many legendary acts such as David Bowie, Bob Dylan, The Ramones, Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, The Who and The Rolling Stones have carried their guitars from the tree-lined avenue into the double front doors.
More recently, 23 East Lancaster Avenue previously played host to the 23 East Cabaret from 1990-1994 and Brownies 23 East from 1995-2012. Ardmore Music Hall has been in place since 2014.
Upon opening, Ardmore Music Hall very quickly became a must-stop on the Northeastern US tours of bands such as The Flaming Lips and The Roots, as well as hugely influential local acts Kurt Vile and The War on Drugs, both of whom hail from Philadelphia.
The current incarnation of the venue has paid tribute to its historic past with several themed nights including the Annual Bob Dylan Birthday Bash, the 50th Anniversary of the iconic Rolling Stones Album, “Exile on Main Street” and a Pink Floyd Tribute.
The Ardmore Music Hall is a large space set over two floors. The venue’s best features are its intimate stage, gorgeous decor and expansive dance floor. Music lovers can enjoy any of the four bars within the venue where they can choose from an array of cocktails and wine or any of the spot’s 20+ draught beer options. For those that are hungry, the Ardmore Music Hall also offers a menu which caters for everybody.
Once it’s time for the show, attendees can enjoy plush balcony tickets or premium downstairs seating. A state-of-the-art sound system will ensure the audience can hear the band clearly wherever their proximity to the stage.
For fantastic views, head to what may just be the venue’s best feature: a rooftop terrace with full views of the Philadelphia skyline.
With the Ardmore Music Hall being such a huge part of the Ardmore nightlife scene, it is natural for the venue to be utilised to benefit the wider community. All of the features make the site a popular choice for private events.
Over the years, the bars, stage and dancefloor have been hired out to celebrate many birthdays and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, lectures, fundraisers, movie screenings, comedy shows and corporate events. The food menu can be tailored for any request and the onsite culinary staff can offer the perfect food, cocktail or mocktail menu for special occasions.
Guests can unwind in one of the two main bars or the two satellite bars upstairs. The balcony area is also available for hire if required (for between 30 and 100 people) or the ‘U’ shaped private booths (for up to 30 guests)
A TV will link to the stage for an exclusive live feed of the concert, all while guests are tucking into one of the open bar packages, which can be offered from $35 per guest.
Upon request, private bookings can include a personalised marquee and the complete features of a regular club night including a coat check, VIP suites, a reception area, cabaret furniture and security staff.
The Ardmore Music Hall has a dedicated events team who will be glad to assist with any enquiries.
It is not unusual to pass the Ardmore Music Hall late at night and see happy music lovers spilling out onto the street. However, not many people are aware that the venue accommodates under-21s, as well as daytime shows for children.
However, whilst the venue does allow access to under-21s, access is only permitted if they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
In keeping with their local community spirit, the venue also hosts daytime events for The Rock and Roll Playhouse. This is a family concert series which allows children to dance, sing and express their creativity whilst listening to the best works of classic American rock ‘n’ rollers.
While the music is turned down low for this daytime show, all children are provided with preventative hearing protection earmuffs. The event also begins at the family-friendly 11 am.
Such an event in March 2023 sees children expressing themselves to the music of Tom Petty, performed by John Gilbride & Friends,
The club is proudly independently owned, operated and booked. Chris Perella is the venue’s head booker and owner since 2014. In 2019, he joined forces with Peter Martin & Biff Gottehrer (who own the nearby sister restaurant Ripplewood Whiskey & Craft) to try and create an unparalleled fan and artist experience. The result is a full food menu exclusively curated by Ripplewood.
Ripplewood is perhaps best known for receiving Philadelphia food critic Craig Laban’s coveted three bells, a rating system he devised for food reviews in the local newspaper The Inquirer.
In his time in the music industry, Chris Perella and production managers Jesse Soifer and Julian Booker have been responsible for supporting many well-known local music artists including Action Bronson, Gary Clark Jr. and The Revivalists.
Food & drink
Visitors can enjoy a huge variety of traditional bar snacks and American classics such as burgers, guac and chips, wings and (of course) a Philly Cheesesteak. The menu also accommodates those with allergens or dietary preferences. The empanadas are gluten-free, whilst vegans can choose from tofu nuggets, a Beyond Meat burger or bánh mì (providing they skip the aioli)
The kitchen is run by Shawn Padgett, a Philadelphia food scene veteran, and his dedicated team.
For concerts, most tickets begin at around $25 for general admission with VIP tickets at $50. A recent Beatles tribute act Come Together cost $15 for standing with seated tickets completely sold out.
A search for an upcoming concert with country and folk artists Shawn Mullins + Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams sees tickets begin at $25 for general admission, with seating ranging from $45 (for balcony seats) to $65 (dancefloor seating)
For those looking for a more exclusive experience, or to buy tickets for more than ten people, the venue can arrange VIP packages or private hire with food and drinks deals included.
For frequent concert-goers, Ardmore Music Hall offers an exclusive membership programme, ‘The Ardmore Music Club’. Membership tiers are Friend level ($175 per year), Ambassador Level ($349 per year) and Mega Ambassador Level $499 per year)
The basic Friend package allows the opportunity to support Ardmore Music Hall by becoming a ‘friend’ of the independent venue. This allows free tickets as well as discounts for food, drink and merchandise.
Ambassador has all of the Friend benefits plus the chance to purchase seated tickets for the cost of a general admission ticket, as well as waived booking fees.
The Mega Ambassador gives all the benefits of the Friend and Ambassador, but with three additional free tickets and the chance to receive signed items from selected shows throughout the year.
The venue has a good reputation for its lighting system. Some of the lighting specifications that the venue boasts include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Lighting Console:
– Avolites Pearl Expert Pro
2. Moving Lights:
– 8 x Clay Paky Alpha Spot HPE 1200
– 8 x Clay Paky Alpha Beam 700
3. LED Fixtures:
– 8 x Martin MAC Aura XB
– 8 x Martin MAC Quantum Wash
– 8 x Martin Atomic 3000 LED
4. Other Lighting:
– 8 x Par 64
– 8 x Source Four Profile
– 8 x Source Four Zoom
– 8 x Source Four PAR
– 8 x Source Four PARNel
– 8 x Source Four Jr.
– 8 x Source Four Ellipsoidal
– 8 x Source Four Pars
– 8 x Martin Exterior IP65
– 8 x Martin Exterior IP65 Zoom
The Ardmore Music Hall sound system is top-of-the-range and tough to beat in the local area. The venue employs a custom-built Meyer Sound system with a full array of speakers, subwoofers and amplifiers.
All of these components feed into the highest quality sound, which means concertgoers can enjoy live performances at their very best.
Online reviews for the Ardmore Music Hall are generally very good. The music venue scores 4.3/5 on Facebook, 4.5/5 on Tripadvisor and 3.5/5 on Yelp.
Facebook users comment on the friendliness of the staff and clientele. Many remarked that recent renovations had completely transformed the venue. Others appreciated a “great place for local music”, “excellent sound” and a “favourite” for local residents.
Tripadvisor users praised the venue’s response to the COVID pandemic, the convenient parking and the “awesome” and “wonderful” sound.
Yelp reviewers were more critical, with several users criticising the venue’s decision to replace upstairs seating with standing, meaning reservations are not guaranteed a seat. However, they did salute the quality of the musical acts, with Beatlemania and George Clinton being highlights.
Whilst the venue does not host parking for concertgoers, there are many parking lots in the immediate area. The most popular is next to the Tired Hands Brewing Company, although if parking elsewhere, make sure to read signs to verify ticketing options.
There is also a parking garage on the nearby Cricket Avenue which is free after 6 pm or $2 for 4 hours at other times.
Ardmore Music Hall is right in the middle of the Main Line in downtown Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Car and public transport are great options for those who live in Philadelphia, as the city is only three miles away.
For those taking the train, Ardmore Music Hall is less than 100 metres away from the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Amtrak train lines.
The Amtrak offers access to major cities including Philadelphia, New York City and Washington. The SEPTA operates for around 20 hours a day and connects to most places in Pennsylvania quickly and efficiently.
In summary, Ardmore Music Hall is a great place to unwind and see some of your favourite acts if you are in Philly. For more information visit their website.