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Top Local Rock Bands In Philadelphia

Philadelphia has a thriving local music scene and is full of great up-and-coming bands. This list is an update to "Philadelphia's Top Indie & Alternative Rock Bands," which was written a few years ago. See below for the latest bands that are currently rocking Philly.
Cheers Elephant

Cheers Elephant's sound is reminiscent of Brit pop and bands like The Beatles and The Kinks. Since the quartet’s formation in 2007, it has released three full-length albums, with the latest "Like Wind Blows Fire" released in May of 2012. The group's sound has become more complex over the years, as well as more original and less psychedelic and Kinks-like. "Like Wind Blows Fire" is full of catchy melodies, three-part harmonies and danceable tracks. The band plays frequently up and down the East Coast and, of course, here in Philadelphia. Cheers Elephant's energetic live shows are worth checking out.

Toy Soldiers

After a busy 2012 playing hundreds of shows on the East Coast, rock 'n roll group Toy Soldiers is looking to release its sophomore full-length album, "The Maybe Boys," this fall. The album was produced by local producer Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog) and will feature more of the lively tunes the band has become known for. Toy Soldiers blends together numerous genres including folk, rockabilly, blues and soul. Now a solid five-piece band, it had 12 members backing up the songwriting of Ron Gallo at one point. The group won the 2011 and 2012 Tri-State Indie Award for Best Band and the 2011 Independent Music Award for Best Blues Song for "Throw Me Down."

The Districts

The Districts is a band just barely out of high school from a small town called Lititz in Lancaster County. Since it released its excellent debut album "Telephone" in 2012, the group has been moving fast into the Philly music scene. The band's sound draws heavily on rock and soul from the 1960s and 1970s, but still conveys the modern musicianship of the Cold War Kids and Jack White, all while maintaining a sound that is entirely its own. The four-piece band features great vocal lines over textured guitar riffs. Last summer, The Districts won the World Café Live at The Queen Beta Hi-Fi competition and recently performed at the XPoNential Music Festival in Camden.

Related: Top Rock Bars In The Philadelphia Area


Dayseam is an alternative rock band that formed in 2008 and now has three albums to its name. This year, the group won the May Akademia Music Award for Best Rock Album for "Cautiously Optimistic" and has been playing all around Philly in support of its new album, "Winds of Change." Dayseam is a hard-working band that is willing to put the time and effort in in order to receive recognition on the music scene, but the group also has talented musicians with a knack for writing great rock songs and excellent guitar lines.

Bleeding Rainbow

Bleeding Rainbow recently gained the praise from both surviving members of Nirvana, ex-drummer Dave Grohl and ex-bassist Krist Novaselic, which not many local bands can say. Formerly known as Reading Rainbow, the band released its first album, "Yeah Right," under its new name in January of this year. Along with the name change, the band also reemerged as a four-piece ensemble after releasing two albums as a husband-and-wife duo. The bands lo-fi sound reflects greatly on the alternative rock subgenre "shoegaze" and resembles bands like My Bloody Valentine.

Related: Top Venues To Hear Local Music In Philadelphia

Kelly Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Philadelphia. Her work can be found on
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