Monday, July 07, 2008

In Philadelphia, Where I Met Satan

Left to right: Craig, Satan, me, Kurt, Chip, Mike

A few weeks ago, I snuck into Philadelphia under cover of darkness as part of a rolling series of surprises for my longtime friend Kurt on his fortieth birthday, a 72-hour operation orchestrated by Kurt’s wife Claire with a shocking, almost militaristic, level of precision, foresight and secrecy.

The travels also allowed Trip and me to hold some long-overdue and high-level Teenage Kicks editorial board meetings, fueled by hops, malt and rock and roll. The consensus coming out of those meetings: We’ve got to ramp this thing up.

Thursday night’s main attraction was Rilo Kiley at the Electric Factory, which followed burgers and beers at North Third. Philly, let me say this: You rule the beer world. Great brews can be found in any bar on any corner. I swear this is true: On Friday, I threw a rock into a tree, and a perfectly-poured Hoegaarden fell into my hand, with lovingly-sliced lemon floating on top.

Kurt and Claire and I were joined for the evening by Trip and his bride Cathy, making a rare rock and roll show appearance, and our friends Mary and Kevin, up from Baltimore for the night. The epic conversation and panoply of on-tap offerings prevented us from catching the first two acts on the bill, but Jenny Lewis and her man-slaves put on a shimmering show that looked something like this:

The next day featured more beer and rock and roll, as we caught Langhorne Slim’s noontime set at World CafĂ© Live (thanks to XPN’s Deb Ashmore and the many friendly friends who treated me like a brother on our visit to the station). Slim and his War Eagles put on a high-energy hootenanny at the bargain-basement price of free.

Later that afternoon, Kurt and I (by now joined by Chip, just in from Ann Arbor) were across town, about to enter Standard Tap, when we encountered Slim and a lovely companion on the street. Though happy to be recognized, Slim was a tad crestfallen when we awkwardly confessed that we couldn’t make it to that night’s show (though I have since bought your disc, Slim; I hope that’s sufficient consolation).

The weekend’s entertainment high point, however, indisputably happened on Saturday night. With the Phillies out of town, we found our sporting fix with the Philly Roller Girls, enjoying a roller derby double-header pitting the Broad Street Butchers vs. the Dutchland Rollers and the Heavy Metal Hookers vs. the Philthy Britches. Sitting just inches from the action in our VIP seats, it quickly became clear that the competition was for real. Featuring delightful young women with names like Robin Drugstores, Felony Griffith and Heavy Flo, it was all-out serious stuff that often ended up in our laps after collisions in the corners shot bodies off the track like human cannonballs. Here’s a big salute to Mo Pain, the Michael Jordan of Philly women’s roller derby. The girl can skate.

In between bouts, we were treated to the dulcet tones of La Resistance, a local metal band fronted by the heretofore unknown child of Joey Ramone and Sarah Silverman. But the band’s purest genius rested in their physical formation, with co-lead guitarists, one left-handed and one right-handed, flanking the stage, guitars pointing outward, manifesting the band as nothing less than the devil’s horns writ large.

And speaking of Satan, she (yes, she) was there supporting her sisters in the Heavy Metal Hookers. More charming that you’d imagine, she graciously posed for pictures.

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