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In this week's Navel Gazing, Punknews' John G re-caps the Punknews Summer Soiree 5, from July 2, 2022, which included setes by At Night, Froggy, Vixen 77, Marissa Paternoster the band, and DanJoMar featuring Joe and Dan of Dead Milkmen.
Well, in the planning for Summer Soiree V (the fifth installment of Punknews’ annual summer concerts), I sort considered making it the last show that I threw. At this point, I’ve been throwing shows for five years pretty regularly, and to a degree, “the mountain has been conquered.” We’ve had amazing, amazing sold out shows with World/Inferno Friendship Society, we’ve had an intimate show with OG anarcho-punk legend Danbert Nobacon, and we’ve done off the wall wacky stuff like the Spring Slamdown 1, where we had four up-and-coming bands duke it out on a stage set up like a boxing ring, vying it out for the “Joey Ramone Worldwide Heavyweight Punk Rock Championship Belt.”
So, just prior to soiree 5, I really had three options- keep doing what I’m doing at the level I was doing it, push the operation up to the next level, or end it. I had considered moving up the chain, but the few times that I dipped my toe in those waters, I met a surprising amount of blowback and not-cool-action from some other fish in this very large pond that don’t realize how big the pond is, if you catch my drift. During those times, I thought about crawling through the muck ala Shawshank Redemption in some attempt to proclaim “you can’t tell me what to do!”, but each time, I came to the conclusion that, do I want spend a five-course meal’s worth of assets to fight over a relatively small lunch? And, add to that, throwing shows isn’t my main goal in life, so it detracts from other larger goals that I have.
So, then, that left the option of keeping things at the same regularity at the same level. I still love throwing shows and making weird ideas come to life. However, in my opinion, in the wake rapidly rising real estate value, certain powerful parties that I won’t name here as I don’t want to be sued for defamation, have been waging a sort of war against smaller and DOY operations, in an attempt to drive them out in lieu of more valuable/desirable use… like bars… and $800k, 900 sq ft condos… and bars… and Starbucks… and bars… so, many of may favorite all-ages, DIY spots have been literally run out of town, despite the fact that they are/were licensed. Plus, the fact of the matter is, Philly currently has a lot of very cool promotors throwing some very cool shows, so it’s not like the city “needs” me to throw shows. Pretty much any Friday or Saturday has at least three punk or punkish gigs to choose from.
With that in mind, I set out to make Soiree 5 the final Punknews shows, kinda sorta maybe. That is, I think I didn’t want to throw the dirt on the coffin, but I was essentially leaving it to the sands of time to do most of that for me.
Therefore, I decided to make Soiree 5 the big end-all show wherein I would pull out as many ideas from my “to do” list that would fit on one bill. AND, I wanted as killer of a bill I could make happen.
So, to that end, I booked DanJoMar, which is Joe Jack Talcum and Dan Stevens of Dead Milkmen, with Marshall Fischer on drums, as the headliner. DanJoMar and JJT have played a few other punk shows, so I couldn’t think of a more fitting headliner for the last big kapow than this Philadelphia punk rock titan and groundbreaker. But of course, at Punknews, we also like to do things to the max, so I also wanted a co-headliner.
Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females has a very cool new band under her own name and they just released an amazing, unique album called Peace Meter. So, it was the perfect compliment to DanJoMar.
For the “openers,” I wanted a bunch of young, up-and-coming acts to sort of be the yin to my veteran punks’ yang. I couldn’t think of any better acts for this than Vixen77 and Froggy. Vixen77, who totally smashed the Punknews Sonic Attack show in 2019, is back with a new lineup and they will release their first album this fall. What a great time to catch the band! Also, I knew I had to have the almost brand new band Froggy play. Froggy has been making incredible waves lately (having a video directed by 7-11; having a song in clerks 3), so I wanted to book them so that in five years, people can say, “I saw them in a club show, maaaaan!”
But for the opener, I wanted a band that could balance between the newbies and the vets and be sort of a surprise. Then, the perfect answer arrived- At Night, the brand new band featuring Nicole of philly hardcore punkers Witch Hunt and Julia of post=punkers Callowhill! And what venue would be fitting for the end-all-be-all blowout? No question- the best venue in the city- PHILAMOCA- a former mausoleum that had excellent sound and a great stage. Plus it is all ages and isn’t a bar!
About two weeks before the show, I went around town flyering and all the bands picked up posting the show on social media. Ticket sales really started to pop and by the week of the show, it was clear we were going to sell out soon. It really did feel like there was an energy behind this gig.
The day of the show, all the bands arrived just around 4:30, when the show didn’t start until 7:00pm. I asked someone why everyone got there so early, and she said, “you put band load in 4:30-6:30 on the info sheet…” In my naiveite, I meant that meant show up any time that works for the bands in that span, but a band will read that as SHOW UP AT 4:30. So, everyone basically had like an hour and a half to kill… my bad! Meanwhile, Soundman Justin, who often runs sound at Philamoca set up the bands and, even though the show was a little punk show, treated the technical aspect with a seriousness like he was rigging sound for Iron Maiden. Now THERE’s a real pro!
Anyways, we opened doors at 7pm. In honor of our general Soiree theme, we had ‘20s bug band music drifting across the speakers and some art deco imagery on the show backdrop. As soon as people came in, they were given programs for the evening, along with as many glow-bands they could handle- most people opted for two, though one person went up to twelve. People were also given little 3’’ x 3’’ squares that had a moshing robot on it that read: “caution- beware mosh bots!” We wanted to be sure to keep the show safe, of course…
At 7:30 on the dot, just after the show officially sold out, the swing music drifted away into silence. The backdrop was replaced by a picture of Jack Terricloith with glowing eyes. Around him, were the words, “Jack Terricloth Forever.” The show then opened with the only way Soiree 5 could ever begin… World/Inferno’s “Tattoos Fade” cracked across the speakers. The song grew in volume until the first refrain wherein Jack calls out “all your tattoos will FaaaAAAAaaaaAAAaaaaddeeeeee…” and just as that happened, the music cut out with just the word “fade” echoing until it was quitter and quitter as a nasty gash of a sound rumbled through the room. Then, as a way to pay tribute to the man that allowed the Soiree’s to begin in the first place, there was nothing but silence in the packed house for Jack Terricloth. It was a sad moment for sure, but it was nice to remember the champion.
Then, after a fitting amount of time… the horns to “Hollywood Swingin’” jump across the speakers… and then, the song immediately broke down into “the 900 number” aka “Let clear my throat” along with many, many explosion and air siren effects.
Yours Truly jumped up on the stage and yelled “Philadelphia, make sooome noooisse!!!: at the same time, I made it rain on the crowd will million dollar bills… except the bills had the faces of people playing the show, such as “one million Joe bucks” or “one million Shanna bucks.” I then yelled out, “when I say hey, you say ho, when I say hey, you say ho! HEY!” and on perfect queue, the audience yelled back “Ho!” Then, I yelled out, “When I say let’s, you say Go! When I say let’s, you say go! LET’S!” and in a blast of energy, the audience howled back “GOOOOOOO!” Then, as the track collapsed from the “900 number” to an instrumental cut of Diplo’s “express yourself,” amongst the sounds of air raid sirens, explosions, and air horns, I yelled out introductions to each band. (Each band also got a custom soundeffect as they crowd cheered back- DanJoMar got Paulie D yelling “oooh yeah!”; Marissa Paternoster got Bart shouting Ay Caramba!”; Vixen77 got Paris Hilton announcing “that’s hot!”; Froggy got Butthead yelling, “That son of a bitch stole our nachos!” and just before At Night played, a wolf howled across the speakers and I dove into the audience.
And then, the show proper began. At Night, in their second ever performance, were amazing. The band blended anarcho-punk with post-punk, with goth, in a high energy strike that sat somewhere between Poison Girls, Iowaska and Siouxsie Sioux. Because most of the crowd didn’t know them, they were clear blown away at how good and how ready to strike At Night were. The band had lyrics that dealt with both the spooky and the actual. About midway through the set, Nicole took some time to talk about the overturn of Roe v Wade and how messed up that was. Her words were powerful and direct. What I particularly liked was the way Nicole spoke to the audience. The audience was overwhelmingly young, with many people in the 16-20 range. It was wonderful to see someone the audience could related to, but also see as a “punk older sister,” talking about thing sin an intelligent, nuanced, but effective way. I’m not sure how much of the audience was familiar with punk beyond the cartoon version of the genre, so it was wonderful that for many of the audience, one of their first “punk experiences” found a person exhibiting all the best virtues of the genre and showing how effective it can truly be. Wow! And it was over in a mere 25 minutes!
Dancehall then blasted across the speaker for about 10 minutes and then Froggy was already up there rocking out! Let me tell you, Froggy has arrived! First, the band’s songs are KILLER. Tracks like “Jimmy’s Song” and “Midwest Emo Scum” are so perfectly written, and so punchy, it’s basically as good as music gets. The band is fierce and funny.
On top of that, they have really solidified and rocked the room like any other veteran you could find. The audience was also REALLY into it. A lot of people knew the lyrics and were shouting back refrain by refrain. There’s a fire behind Foggy right now and I think it is going to continue to grow. The band finished their set with the cruncher “7-11 Nachos” and there was a fitting amount of wacky skanking and moshing up front. The track is a room crusher, as it should be.
Next, after some ore dancehall, Vixen77 took the stage. Well, my face did indeed get torn off. The last time I saw the band, they were on the glam-punk side of things. Well… uh… now… they are DESTROYERS. The band’s newest incarnation finds them tearing through tracks a triple speed. The bubblegum bounce has been replaced with Motorhead driving power and even some thrash riffage.
The band walks a line between Discharge, the Runaways, and Slayer, and they kick out super high energy, super smashing punk rock. On top of that, the band has an interesting political/social balance. Some of the tracks talk about the day to day life, such as depression or being annoyed by creeps on the street. And some of the tracks are all about directly political issues. And some tracks are just about them fucking you up. The energy was so high with Vixen that as they blasted from track to track, it was less “song to song” then one massive all of noise. Plus, with five of them crammed up on stage, it really did look like a beatdown. Vixen77 has a new album out later this year and I am sure it will be a wild-as-hell ripper.
And then, it was time for our co-headliners. The Marissa Paternoster band- MP on guitar and vocals, Shanna Polley on keys, Angie Boylan on drums- took the stage. In true low-key Paternoster style, Marissa softly said, “hi, we are Marissa Paternoster the band.” And then they cut out all of our collective guts.
The band’s music is broad, ethereal, and a little goth. It’s full of deep emotion. When Marissa called out in her huge voice, it was soul moving music. The band had a cosmic heaviness they was also delivered with speed and energy. Interestingly, despite the band’s powerful themes, they still keep a certain whimsy in the delivery. It’s interesting to hear Paternoster somewhat outside of the high rocking of screaming females, and into something heavier and perhaps darker.
Sadly, I had to step outside of the room during the set. Just moments after I stepped out, I am told that Santa Claus showed up! He immediately started to hand out (mostly complete, thrift shop) board games to all the good little boys and girls. Someone got Trivial Pursuit and held it up like a gold medal. But, just as quickly as Santa arrived, he was gone and I missed him! Marissa did make it a point to say “thank you Santa!” just as I was stepping back inside.
The whole trio delivered a set that showed just how powerful of a band they are. Plus, the somewhat unusual set-up- guitar, keys, drums- creates a texture rarely heard in music. All three of the member shave other bands, but together, the three create something that can only be created with these three exact people. Jaw dropping!
And then, it was time for the final act… DanJoMar! You never know what you’re going to et when Joe Jack Talcum is involved and that’s one of the most fun things about his performances. This DanJoMar set was extra special. The band pulled ultra-deep from the DanJoMar bag. We got rare Joe Jack Talcum tracks, rare Dead Milkemn tracks, some covers, and even a brand new tune! DanJoMar played their new rendition of “anxiety,” which is the first (and only ) DanJoMar track to ever be recorded. As with many Joe tracks, it was earnest, moving, and kind of warped. Similarly, the band played the dead Milkmen’s “Dean Dream,” but in a huge, lumbering presentation, which took the usually flighty number to a chorus-like number. They also did a version of DM deep cut “Secret of Life,” which unbeknownst to the band, is a very important track- I grew sad when I heard it and I am glad I did.
As for other surprises, they covered Daniel Johnston AND Joe/Dan’s older band, the Low Budgets. Other Joe Jack solo cuts were given a spin as did other DM tracks. Joe and DanjoMar’s music speaks to the core and it was magical to have them play in such an intimate environment… plus it’s a lot of fun. I'll also add that, for year's now. Mr. Talcum has been down with our wacky/silly/stupid ideas. I sort of think he's humoring me to be a nice guy, but DAMN- JJT is a literal punk rock icon and he is STILL up for doing this goofy little punk rock shows. I don't think he cares about accolades, but I'll say it anyway- Joe is AS PUNK AS IT GETS TIMNES TWO, is an amazing artist, and best exemplifies what this genre or lifestyle or music or whatever is all about. Thank you Joe!!!
DanJoMar’s last song was DM’s “the Guitar song.” And, just as they played, would you believe it… two GIANT, silver MOSH BOTS with glowing eyes came out and started moshing!!! Meanwhile, balloons dropped down on the audience and the whole crowd broke out into a pogo freak out! At that point, despite my warning slips, I was powerless to stop the rampaging Mosh Bots and had to let them have full control of the dancefloor until their batteries ran out.
On the way out the door, attendees got goodie bags that included 12-inch and 7-inch records picked by Yours Truly, candy, a Jack Terricloth Forever button, a patch, and a Punknews Summer Soiree 5 action playset that included cut-out figures of everyone that played the show. And just like that, months of preparation and work was… over. As I stood there, sweeping up the floor (the aftermath of me making it rain), and picking up dropped board games, and emptying out discarded bottles, I realized just how much fun the show was and how making art that links together, and links people together, is some of the most powerful energy in the world. All of that is to say, I’M BACK IN THE GAME BABY!
Special thanks to DanJoMar, the Marissa Paternoster band, Vixen 77, Froggy, At Night, Pjilamoca, Soundman Justin, Ginger Knight, you the audience, and Jack Terricoth for making this possible then, now, and in the future.