While the roaring traffic flows at the intersection of Frankfort and Girard avenues, a gently lit watering hole sits nestled on a corner that stands out from the rough neighborhood, furnishing concert-goers with a different blend of funky fresh flavors for a night of fun almost any day of the week.
Johnny Brenda’s is the name of the joint, and from the outside, this gem seems like a normal neighborhood bar that most would suspect is a dive with a cluster of apartments above. I would suggest from the shell you see that the bar is as daunting as a spook-house you might frequent on All Hallows Eve.
However, upon entrance you are immersed in an absolute vintage aura. First, you encounter a couple of pool tables to the side of an enormous bar-top that leads down a hallway to a legitimate dining room. The size of the spot surprises you, impossible to tell from the outside.
The crowd can only be described as a medley; some blue collars, a few roughnecks, a handful of gangsters, plenty of proper well-to-do musicians, and an abundance of punk college kids seeking the wild ride Philadelphia so generously offers. All in all, everyone, regardless of what demographic they might fit, chooses to frequent this Philly hot spot with the same goal: good times, great music, and an open room to dance and get down to some grooving beats.
This unique slice of musical heaven goes up and up, as guests venture upward from the dining room billiards section, where a nicely-sized open dance floor greets you with another full bar. Behind the varnished cherry wood counter of the bar hangs several chalk boards describing varieties of craft beers most folks haven’t even heard of from all over the state.
The stage was minute compared to bars and clubs in other parts of Philly, but against the grain more-so in the mirrors adorned all along the back wall behind the entertainment. The band we partook in was He’s My Brother She’s My Sister. They amplified bumping melodies full of strong guitar riffs and catchy choruses. It was an indie concert, if a genre must have been attached, but like the variety the crowd was, Johnny Brenda’s totes a widespread schedule of shows. There was a timeless feeling to the crazy vintage saloon-style music playing between bands, adding to the genuine coziness of Johnny Brenda’s.
There is more to the illustrious Fishtown spot; exit upward yet again to another level of a dance area. This section wields balcony viewing, plenty of room to dance, and high top tables along the back. A humble six or seven foot bar sits situated in the corner of the third floor, leaving the thirsty concert-goers quenched regardless of level top to bottom. The Hospitality of Johnny Brenda’s, needless to say, stays on top of their game.
Fuzzy colors of blues and purples traversed the vaulted ceiling at the top flight of the musical site. The balcony style adds a different atmosphere to the whole experience, with the professional light system beaming up our direction. The ambiance of Johnny Brenda’s was complemented quite well by the earthiness of the hardwood floor and dark tree bar tops in the dim light. “Memorable” is the word to capture this signature spot.
“Johnny Brenda’s is somethin’ special that’s for sure. I love this place,” music lover Clayton Perry stated about the establishment after the show.
The experience of this Philadelphia hub for good spirits and incredible times is a secret to those who partake in its pleasures. Audiences are in for a very different sample of the concert experience when frequenting Johnny Brenda’s. I am a connoisseur of the sort for vintage locations and this place reeks of genuineness.
Pouring out into the streets at 2 a.m., those who sought for the right ambiance, groovy tunes and everything else you could be seeking in a venue have reached satiety. Taste the flavors of this establishment’s musical delight, whether in the surrounding suburbs or throughout your travels to our birthplace of liberty. The pursuit of happiness is in enjoying yourself in the comfortable surroundings of positive vibrations. Thanks Johnny Brenda’s.
Nicholas Devoe is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. He can be reached at ND626335@wcupa.edu.