Tuffer Than You
I had never been to a show at the First Unitarian Church in Philly until Saturday night. It’s a strange venue, down in the cellar of a house of worship, and specializes in punk and indie shows. Hmmm. My First UC virginity ended when King Tuff rolled into town.
Let’s talk about the venue for a minute. I’m not sure I like it too much – the sound is harsh and it’s a difficult place to mix – vocals were difficult all night. Sightlines, however, are good, and it’s small, so no one is going to be very far from the stage. Lighting is terrible. There are no stage lights per se, only overhead cans that glare down on the bands. KT bitched about it, and rightfully so.
Here’s an interesting fact: The First UC is a BYO. And people take full advantage, strutting in with a lot of beer. That leads to a lot of people who are more inebriated than the typical club crowd. Lucky for all of us that it was Saturday night and people were in a festive mood, but that many drunks in a basement with punk playing would probably be tricky sometimes. One bad thing: basically no security at all. Seriously, after Bataclan and Pulse, don’t we need to address the security situation at live music venues once and for all, particularly where people are bringing in tons of their own beer?
The crowd itself was a very eclectic mix: dirty long-hairs, bearded millenials (I’m kind of tired of the look, dudes, and some of you with the scraggly crap look like the Bearded Lady, hahaha), gays and lesbians, lots of tattoos, and some of the youngest people I’ve seen at a rock show in a while. The youngsters were looking at me thinking “what the heck is grandpa doing here,” and I was thinking “I hope you brought along some extra diapers.” (Notice I didn’t say Depends – not yet). Whatever, it was a pretty interesting group of people – clearly not your typical club crowd even for punk shows.
Before King Tuff took the stage, there was one opening band worth mentioning: Cut Worms. They are an alt-county foursome who include prominent keyboards. Some of their songs were pure country – they played Hank Williams Lost Highway for instance - while others had a Dr. John New Orleans gumbo feel to them. The crowd liked them and so did I. In fact, I liked them enough to take a few pictures, and here they be:
King Tuff was up next. KT is basically Kyle Thomas, a former member of Ty Segall’s backup band, The Muggers. Coming out of the rock ‘n roll hotspot of Vermont, KT is basic college rock: garage, some pyschedelia, power pop, etc., and it’s damn groovy. It hits the “good stuff” mark on the BRP measuring stick. King Tuff was touring to support his new album The Other, and his bio is kind of sad. Kyle created a party-monster persona, but doesn’t drink or do drugs, and was on the road non-stop. It almost killed his rock spirit. He took a couple of years off, figured out what he wanted to do next, and dug deep to make The Other. I can tell you that the people present at the First UC were exuberant and glad that he didn’t hang up the cleats and go into retirement, BRP among them.
That bio isn’t to say that Kyle has lost his spark: check out the stage get-up of the King himself. That hat was encrusted with appliques, rhinestones, and sparkly do-dads of all sorts. The suit was clearly not Italian or silk, but it was a funky blue-green color, and one that I should wear to work. And the shoes were rock ‘n roll finery with an intricate design and pointy toes. You go, baby!
Let me say this: KT is the first band I have seen in a while with a majority of women playing the instruments. Unfortunately, I can’t find out who is in the band – nothing on the official KT site, Facebook or the font of all knowledge, Wikipedia. But the woman playing lead can really play. All those riffs you hear on their albums? She was playing them live. And the bassist was fine, too, and pretty big into hitting rocker poses on stage. Cooooool.
I was smart enough to remember the GoPro this time and caught two songs. For the first one, I was right up in front of the stage, but the sound was so god-awful and loud that I had to move back. I’m a big proponent of, and user of, earplugs, but even with plugs, I couldn’t handle it. I can’t remember ever moving back from a coveted spot right up front, but I did it on Saturday night. That resulted in the second song, Bad Thing, being recorded from 10 or 15 rows back, but that vantage point also caught the only moshing of the night. I think the resulting video is bonkers.
The band played a ton of their great songs, but the show was maybe one hour and fifteen minutes. And they didn’t play Anthem, which is just a badass song. BOO! They did put on a good show in all its low-budget glory. For instance, they had a couple of strings of LED Christmas lights randomly strung across the amps and drums, and they didn’t even both to duct tape the many power cords that were running all across the stage. Still, passion is something that not even the best light shows can provide, and KT brought plenty of that essential with them.
It was a fun and good night of rock. I’m glad to have turned the corner from the electric troubadour thing, and am looking forward to much, much more this summer. Are you with me? Great, be sure to close the back door to this bus as it is getting to ROLL and we’re safety first here at BRP. I’m still working on a couple of other great posts, so check back often. See you all soon – love you all, even those not wearing deodorant! ZOOOOM!!!
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My name is Bill, and I live in the greater Philadelphia area. I love music, and I have a lot of opinions. This site is primarily focused on music, but sometimes I get off track. I hope you enjoy.