There is a reason that VividSeats.com – a national website for buying and selling music – recently named Philadelphia the #1 Music City in America. This distinction is a direct result of the empowering pride and love that Philadelphians have for their favorite bands, performers and music venues. Kung Fu Necktie may be a small part of this rapidly changing and growing community, but it is representative of the passion inherent within it. Kung Fu Necktie’s co-owner, Jimmy Herman, took some time to speak to us about his electrifying establishment.
With so many both new and old venues in the city, what sets Kung Fu Necktie apart? According to Herman, it’s in part the bar’s relaxed, down-to-earth feel. “We offer a low-key vibe, an affordable night out, friendly staff and quality shows,” he explained.
The bi-level, no-frills Fishtown bar and concert venue has been an increasingly prominent fixture in the area’s music culture and nightlife scene since its opening in 2008. The intimate corner bar, located at 1250 North Front Street, may look unassuming from the exterior, but within its walls it teems with life.
The décor of the place matches that of its name – a stylish mismatch of the dark and the ridiculous, creating a whimsical, anything-goes atmosphere. Small groups and parties can relax in comfortable red leather booths or lounge along the venue’s restored vintage bar. These cozy and classy attributes, in combination with the ornamental molding and funky décor, add a stylish and funky element to what Herman describes as a “dive-bar, punk rock, metal vibe.” Its dim lighting and grunginess gives way to its trendy feel. The crowds are generally youthful, friendly and dangerously cool.
The same contrast seen in its décor is reflected in the bar’s drink selection. Cheap drinks are poured aplenty, and $2 city wides and $4 well drinks are a big draw. But the bar also offers a good variety of beers and cocktails, and a small selection of cheap, quirky snacks.
Kung Fu Necktie offers live music seven days a week, which in and of itself is impressive. But it’s the quality of the shows that have gained Kung Fu Necktie its regulars, and made it a destination for music lovers throughout the city. The Mike McCann Team’s very own, Rich Fravel, and his band, Mt. Vengeance, have performed there many times and have been known to melt faces and set the KFN’s roof aflame. (Check out this Phawker article on the band then go buy their new EP!
The types of shows and artist genres who have taken the stage at KFN run the gamut of musical styles. The upstairs stage is intimate, and sets the scene for small-room concerts, while a downstairs dance floor and larger stage can accommodate slightly bigger shows. Nightlife enthusiasts and concert-goers can entertain themselves with vintage gaming equipment while waiting for the musicians to warm up.
“The musical styles range primarily toward metal and punk rock, but we do hip/hop, indie rock, noise rock, post/punk, electronic, acoustic and even all ages shows,” Herman explained.
That list of styles certainly isn’t set in stone, and the vibe on any given evening at KFN can vary greatly. The venue regularly hosts weekend dance parties, featuring acts like DJ FAME LUST, Matthew Law and Rich Medina. A recent party had attendees bopping to the sounds of Drake, Justin Bieber, Jay Z and Kanye West. There is absolutely no norm when it comes to the types of events taking place at KFN and this insane variety keeps the venue fresh, fun and completely unpredictable.
Last year, the venue hosted a record release show for Queen of Jeans – a female-fronted, South Philly-based pop group, among two other bands who took the stage that weekend. The following weekend the stage was set for the “Dungeon Comedy Night” – you could say KFN has a little something for everyone. And the place books some big names too: Herman listed Dr. Dog, Grimes, Macklemore and Foster the People, as some recent examples.
“We wanted to do live music with the same vibe the old Khyber (now the Khyber Pass Pub, in Old City) had. I had a vision, and the passion and the desire to make it happen,” Herman enthusiastically explained.
As for the future, Herman stated that Kung Fu Necktie is “looking to double in size,” while adding a new range of services to their repertoire including food and a more spacious show-going experience.
Philly fun-seekers! If you are looking for a taste of this city’s youthful, wild and creative nightlife, get yourself down to Kung Fu Necktie. You can rub elbows with Philly’s up-and-coming stars while enjoying low-cost drinks, making new friends and experiencing some of the most high-quality entertainment that Philly has to offer.
Written by Patrick Kaisinger (Mike McCann Team Blogger Extraordinaire)