First Time’s the Charm: Diversifying the DIY music scene — July 6-7, 2018

Philly-based band Bronco plays at First Time's the Charm 2016. The festival promotes new bands that feature women, people of color, queer people, new musicians, and more, in a bid to diversify the DIY scene. (Credit: Sharp Hall)

Philly-based band Bronco plays at First Time's the Charm 2016. The festival promotes new bands that feature women, people of color, queer people, new musicians, and more, in a bid to diversify the DIY scene. (Credit: Sharp Hall)

Story Highlights

First Time’s the Charm
July 6-7, 7-11 p.m.
PhilaMOCA, 531 N. 12th St., Philadelphia
Tickets: $10

All my life, I’ve secretly wanted to be a musician. (I’m pretty sure I pilfered that ambition from Renee Zellweger’s character in “Empire Records,” but that’s neither here nor there.) But beyond musical theater in high school, I’ve always been too afraid to try.

First Time’s the Charm was created to encourage would-be musicians like me. It’s a two-day festival that aims to disrupt the largely white and male DIY music scene by encouraging new musicians, women, people of color, and folks from other marginalized groups to jam on. Participating bands must meet at least two of the following criteria:

  1. Are one or more members female-identified, queer, someone with a disability, trans or gender nonconforming, or a person of color?
  2. Are one or more members playing in a band for the very first time?
  3. Are one or more members playing an instrument that they have never played before?

The result is a relaxed, open festival that encourages experimentation and new connections. Several bands that are now well known in the Philly scene — including Taxes and Aster More — got their start at 2016’s First Time’s the Charm. (You can hear songs from them, and the 13 other bands from that festival, here.)

This year, eight bands will perform 15-minute sets Friday night. On Saturday night, alumni from previous years will play a benefit show for Beyond the Bars, a Philly-based nonprofit that teaches music to incarcerated youth and others affected by the criminal justice system. You might just discover your new favorite local band — long before anyone else even knows it exists.

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