We filed in line at Union Transfer at about 7:25. PETA promoters handed out pins and stickers and venue workers handed out over-21 wristbands. When the man handing out wristbands came back from line’s end with a hardly-dented roll along his sleeve, it hit me that my group may be well past the median age for this show, but that didn’t matter too much. We were here in support of our hometown’s scene, a scene that in recent years has changed their main concert locale.
Seeing the average age of the pit, we opted to watch from the balcony. Only a few older people were up here and we would later learn that these were family members of the opening act, Somos. They shuffled over to a small seating area enabling us to get to the corner of the balcony, an unobstructed view of the stage.
Somos were the opening act, hailing from Boston, and it was refreshing to see an opener whose music you can actually hear. A lot of opening acts are plagued with used or cheap equipment, rendering their sound to nothing more than an amplified cheese grater. Somos was fortunate enough to avoid this. Their hooks were clear, their singer audible, and their music solid. Their guitarist and drummer had a robotic feel to their playing, lifting and jerking their arms at times as if they needed oil to stiffen their joints.
Lemuria, a Buffalo based trio, followed Somos and, while the vocals were harder to hear, still brought a good energy to the crowd. I could see people in the pit swaying as they silently scream the lyrics. Lemuria brought a little class to the show by bringing out a cello for a song, which ulitmately only sounded like a low creak over the guitars and percussion. Lemuria had the distinct honor of being a band where I could actually hear the bass.
Tigers Jaw came out swinging, playing an evenly divided mix of their fast and slow songs. The pit turned into separated factions of kids moshing as much as a gathering of teenage emos could mosh. I vividly recall one lively girl who was energetic enough to jump into the pit but fearful of the pit itself so she resolved to wildly dance(?) around a tepid group of kids. Tigers Jaw, comprised of two of the original members and session musicians played an eighteen song set of their old and new songs. Alas, only two of those songs were off Two Worlds. *sigh*. I unfortunately mostly missed my favorite song off of Charmer (Teen Rocket) because a pork sandwich from earlier had wrecked my insides. Luckily the bathroom had good acoustics. Tigers Jaw did a one song encore and played The Sun, the perfect way to finish off a show rooted in speed juxtaposition, bouncing from fast to slow to fast again. The Pixies would have been proud.
We stepped out to a sea of faces waiting for their friends to appear from the charge. The PETA promoters were outside handing out flyers on going vegan. I was reminded of the vegan jumbo shrimp I had earlier and how adding vegan to it makes it even more of an oxymoron. I also thought of my trip to the Mutter Museum, and the collection of skulls behind a window and paper thin sheets of Albert Einstein’s brain. I then thought, “Wow, what doesn’t the city have?” And, while the local bands have migrated to the mid-size venues and other bands (looking at you, Menzingers) declare themselves ‘Philly’ bands, I realize that the city could never truly have them. Whether it’s in the vocals, lyrics or sound, I’ll always hear the sound of a valley tucked between the mountains. A sound that subtly, and probably unintentionally, represents an area dilapidated.