Two nights later, I’m in Philly and that heatwave is following me like a bad penny. It’s too hot to move. I stay in the comforts of a west philly duplex surrounded by five cats and some A/C. I eat a hoagie in Malcolm X Park. I eat Ethiopian food with friends; I finally find a record shop where I can walk in and cop the S-21 seven inch.
Last time I was at Johnny Brenda’s, it was the dead of winter. We were looking for Karaoke, and instead we found Jelloman staring at his phone. The bar looked too small for an actual venue, but then again, no one told me their was a second floor. Twenty steps up lies a stage a balcony and the coldest green room in the world. It’s a sold out show, which is a great way to kick this tour off. Do we have a name for this tour? What should we name this tour?
The cultural elite of Philadelphia came out for this show—well known artists, activists, musicians and heads filled the room for the three headed hydra of rock that lay before you: the radical rap-rock of Ronnie Vega; the vicious steamroll of sound that is Berkley, California’s Street Eaters; and of course, Screaming Females.
Ronnie Vega might be the best argument for the lasting effects of the “Judgement Night” Soundtrack. It’s a lazy comparison and in the wrong hands it’s a really lazy approach to the craft of subversive rock. But in Ronnie Vega’s hands, it’s all gravy. Hard rhymes, hard rhythms and blazing guitar work. I hope they never stop in their mission to end all “good vibes”
I only saw Street Eaters for the first time last year but I feel like I’ve known of Megan and John for much longer than that. These two are lifers to this whole DIY Punk lifestyle, and with Street Eaters, they just blaze all around them with the drum/guitar shared vocal skree they lay out. You think “Berkley” and I just think of a mad smacked hippie yelling at me for parking too close to his van, but gurl, please believe this ain’t that. This is as Ronnie Vega said moments before “Street Eaters, that’s some gutter name…some gutter shit.” My wonderful friend/host, the lovely CDK, didn’t know scratch or shit on them. “Oh word? Hang tight, I think you’re gonna dig it.” Sure enough from my post, deep in the merch-table came photos and texts: “GOOD LORD” “Sorry, I’m Dead and Can’t Text” and my personal favorite “Fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk.” I seriously cannot wait to see the same reactions from unsuspecting fans over the next five weeks. It certainly doesn’t hurt that John and Megan are also the sweetest of sweet peas to exist. Tell you, these three man…they just know how to only move with sweet and positive people.
From my post, deep in the Merch-table, I could only hear Mike’s bass, so last nights set was akin to listening to those isolated mixes of John Entwistle playing “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” We also welcomed the organization DEFEND J20 to table along with us. you can find out more about the work they’re doing here: http://defendj20resistance.org/blog/
Did Screaming Females shake down Johnny Brenda’s with the rock? YES
Did the crowd scream and clap and hoot and holler? ABSOLUTELY
Were there hugs from superstars of the Philly underground. OF COURSE, SCENE UNITY !!!
Did a noted WPRB radio DJ get stopped from bringing an entire pizza into the venue? YES
Did said noted WPRB radio DJ borrow $1.25 from yours truly to purchase said pizza? YOU BET.
Did an alluring and intriguing roadie–in the service of three kind people from New Brunswick, NJ–back over some recycling bins with a van? ENTIRELY POSSIBLE
(Johnny Brenda’s photo by Christina Kara)