There’s a near endless bounty of ways to spend a night in the city of Brotherly Love. Fortunately, Philadelphia is also a haven for the thrifty. Thanks to the burgeoning art scene and a pair of longstanding city staples, a night on the town can be had on a shoestring budget. Here are five places to take in some quality entertainment for less than $15.
Kung Fu Necktie
Kung Fu Necktie (above), located under the El in Fishtown, doubles as an intimate music venue and Front Street’s very own corner bar. The exterior of the building is adorned with unusual graffiti and the interior features dark brick walls and dim lighting; ideal for a great show atmosphere. The event calendar at KFN is packed with a variety of entertainment keeping it fresh and inviting to all. The bar itself has its own “shelf of shame” with $2 beer listings, but for those feeling refined, a large selection of craft beers is also offered. Most nights there is a small cover but plan ahead and take in some music at a place that labels the women’s bathroom “boobs” and the men’s “balls.”
A night at the Adrienne Theater, home of PHIT, can shift with the muttering of a single word. On a random weekday, the word du jour—shouted by a crowd goer—was “blueberries.” Using the fruit as motivation, an improv duo broke into a skit that riffed on the validity of goji berries, the power of the cleanse, and the perils of married life. Unusual? Certainly. But the Philly Improv Theater specializes in splitting sides off the top of their head.
In addition to running shows, PHIT offers improv lessons for the brave and shameless. Comedy shows at the Adrienne Theater, which can be found at 2030 Sansom Street, range from free to $12.
Moonbase Nix, an intimate West Philly venue sandwiched between a series of indiscrete rowhomes, comes with a handful of caveats. The walls are consistently moist, the PA is garbled and deafening, and elbowroom comes in short supply. But the shows that occur in the University City basement are dirt cheap and damn good. Local movers and shakers, including Bleeding Rainbow (pictured above), Alex G and Modern Baseball are regulars, but the sweat-stained basement is also prone to hosting international acts. Recently, Danish noise punks and Matador Records signees Iceage performed here.
For nearly 40 years, Ritz Five, located at 214 Walnut Street, has been a cornerstone of the Philadelphia art house film scene. Opening in 1976, the Old City theater has long offered an alternative to major motion pictures. Ritz Five instead specializes in foreign films, independent productions and documentaries. They’re also here to sweeten your hump day – on Wednesdays, Ritz Five offers $7 admission to all films.
Strangers have been constantly walking in and out of University Pinball since 1977. The positive vibes makes it almost impossible not to make conversation with the person playing beside you. Classic games such as Pacman and Street Fighter are two of the many that make for the typical arcade atmosphere. This exciting neighborhood hangout is located on 40th and Spruce streets in University City. Whether you stop in for a few hours of fun or a few minutes to get your fix, University Pinball is happy to have you.
Photos and text by David Zisser and Jacqueline Nelms