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April 2, 2009

What do you think of the Electric Factory in Philadelphia?

A reader e-mailed me today asking what I thought about the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. I've seen a few shows in the warehouse concert venue, but not for years. Since it's been so long, I don't feel comfortable offering my take on it.

Any of you guys been there semi-recently?

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:20 AM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I saw the Bloodhound Gang there in 2003. Does that do anything for you?

PS Sam, bryanintimonium and I were discussing this morning how you should put together a review/blog entry for the Swallow at the Hollow. Can you make this happen? I know it would force you to move outside of view of the harbor, but, c'mon!

Go see the Disco Biscuits there. The security is always so lax for them.

Nitrous alley anyone?

They redid the sound and cleaned it up a little in there. I like it for what it is - a grimey concert venue. But if you want a grimey concert venue, the 930 club pwns it in every possible way.

We saw Modest Mouse there last month. It's a fairly good place. More or less like the 9:30 Club, with a wrap-around mezzanine for those who want to show up early enough to stake out a spot. They seemed to have upgraded a bit in the last few years, with more frills like vending areas/drinks/video screens. I pretty much consider it a good alternative if the Philadelphia date for a tour falls on a weekend and Baltimore or DC does not.

I go to one or two shows a year there. While the security in Nitrous alley may be lax...they are certainly NOT lax at the door to get into the venue. They've even felt around on my shoes to check and see if you are stashing something between your toes.

The venue itself is nice (for a dingy warehouse venue). The sound system is quality, and there are good vantage points throughout the venue.

The biggest issue in the past was that alcohol was restricted to the upstairs balcony. This policy has changed in the last year or two though, and you can purchase and consume beers anywhere in the venue now.

The only other complaint is the surrounding area. There isn't really any other bars or signs of friendly life anywhere close. Also, if cabbing to the venue from somewhere else in the city, be prepared to walk a decent ways afterwards to find a cab to take you back from whence you came, as they are few and far between after the show.

"There isn't really any other bars"

whisky dix is next door and rules your face, brah!

While alcohol isn't just confined to the balcony anymore, you can't go everywhere in the venue with it. First floor drinking is only allowed in the area beneath the balcony. It makes for a strange maze of baricades and if you're the type who likes to be right in front of the stage, don't plan on drinking. Security is extremely tight. However, I do like the place and have seen many great shows there.

Whiskey Dix closed last year, brah. I hear some T.G.Rubigan's thing is replacing it though...

Who doesn't like flair?

I HATE this venue. I will only travel there to see a band i really really really like.

The security practically molests you going in. One time they wouldn't let me in because i had a small 3 inch crystal in my pocket because "i could throw it like a weapon". I told them it was a collectible worth over 100 bucks and they still didn't care.

Also you can only drink alcohol upstairs or in this corner cave like thing on the bottom floor.

And as far as i am concerned, most sold out shows there are way oversold.

Bottom line is pray the band you wanna see is gonna be at the Rams Head or at the 930 Club.

well that is totally beat about whisky dix, brah!

oh well, 1 for $5 3 for $10 in the alley!

I used to go there all the time - probably seen total of about 75 concerts there - you know you go a lot when the waitresses know you by name

and Captain Defense - you're totally right - the Disco Biscuits there are probably the most fun a person may be able to have in a human form

the baricaded drinking area below the balcony is a big minus, as far as i'm concerned. i saw The Black Keys there a couple years ago.

rams head has added the same stupid railings to cordon off the bar area from the main audience area, but at least you can drink where you please.

I saw the Disco Biscuits there and had a pretty bad experience. Not only were the real police patrolling in the lot (which is tiny), but I saw them randomly ID'ing people even though they were well over 25 years old. I was frisked harder than I ever have been frisked at the door and the security guards had 5-gallon buckets they were dumping contraband into, and I got punched in the face by someone as they were fighting with security when they got kicked out. Tiny venue, intense security, dirty angry dirty hippies (not to be confused the happy, fun loving kind either)...

This gated off drinking area is a HUGE minus. Why not gate off the under 21 kids in the back somewhere, with more options for the paying customers.

I saw Spoon there a few years ago, this was a huge drawback. Not worth the trek up 95 unless its your only option to catch someone.

I've been there twice, 10 years apart. The first time, I went to see Matchbox20 before they got big. That show was awesome- mosh pit (believe it or not) and someone even jumped off the balcony into the crowd below while Rob Thomas just looked on in amazement. At that time, the place was darker and grittier both inside and out and I loved it.

The second time I went there was to see Lou Reed last spring. The venue on the inside was completely different. The corner bar decked out in neon paint was kinda lame, and the setup somehow seemed different; the grittiness seemed like it was gone. Overall, I got a different vibe from the venue then the first time I went. I don't remember the security issues, but then again, in this day and age, I"m used to it.

With all of that said, I still think it's a great place to see a concert. If a band you want to see comes to RamsHead Live or 9:30 Club, I'd suggest those two venues over the Electric Factory since they're both closer to B'more distancewise. If Electric Factory is your only choice, I don't think you're losing out or missing anything by seeing a show there. I'd suggest parking close to the venue since grabbing a taxi to go somewhere doesn't always work out and there wasn't much open in the area from what I remember.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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