This was a big week in a lot of ways! First, the colors suddenly burst and it truly looked like fall (just in time for our first snow a week later). The time also changed and now it feels like we’re starting the slow march toward winter.
But of course, it was interspersed with some weirdly warm days, because who needs consistency? On warm humid days my bangs go haywire and curl up right when I step foot out of the house. That’s actually what led me to think of my new band’s name, Heavy Bangs! This summer I googled “how to keep straight bangs” and all the tutorials that came up were for “how to get heavy bangs.” Not a look I can achieve.
On Thursday night, Heavy Bangs had our last practice before our first show this past weekend. We were all getting pretty nervous but also sounded really tight in practice.
A Friday morning work date with Jen and Mikey.
Friday afternoon, at work, I took Eddie to the Biopond and Mikey met up with us for a pretty, but cold, fall afternoon.
Mikey is good at making funny voices so Eddie is pretty charmed by him.
Getting dark eeearly
Friday night, there was a big show at Golden Tea House. Mikey’s band played at the Swearin record release show.
Hangin out before the show, eating baked sweet potatoes.
Katie and Sam writing Swearin’s setlist for them.
The only photo I took of the Ambulars that night. Sorry y’all!
In this circle’s record release tradition, they brought out the champagne.
and everyone threw beer cans at Jeff Bolt.
Slingin some merch
On Saturday morning, we had a little time to chill out before the stressful but fun day that was to come later.
We used it to take Rover to meet Jack, a one-eyed chihuahua that he will be crashing with for Thanksgiving weekend. It was cuuute. I wish I had remembered to bring my camera.
Saturday night was an event that I had been planning for the last three months with Mikey and Grace (the collective members of DIY PHL). The point was to encourage folks to join bands if they’ve kind of been on the sidelines or participating in our scene in less visible ways, or to make a space for folks who were too nervous or just needed a deadline to get something started. It was also meant to encourage folks to be thoughtful and intentional about their lineups rather than just forming a bunch of bands with all white dudes in it. All white dude bands aren’t BAD necessarily, there’s just so many of them and punk can really feel like a boys club sometimes.
So we put out that call for new bands to form, received band submissions, and communicated with them for the past three months leading up to the show. We organized a backline of gear so the bands could just plug in and play three songs and unplug. We were really crunched for time, and if we do it next year we will definitely have fewer bands play. We felt band turning folks away when we got so many submissions right away, but I think the show was too long without any big breaks. After coordinating and loading a bunch of gear into my truck and Mikey’s car with the help of good buds, we headed to PhilaMOCA for the event. Doors opened at 7 and it was sold out by 8:10! Here’s Grace on stage welcoming everyone and talking about the event.
The first band to go on was called Baby Goat and was made up of folks from South Philly. Two of them had never played in a band before and another was playing their instrument for the first time (she had been a vocalist in a band before). They were a great way to kick off the show. When bands arrived, they had to draw numbers to see what the order would be. There was a lot of anxiety around drawing the #1 slot, but this band did and they went for it and did great.
Dinner Break was next and they were highly anticipated because a lot of people knew they were going to be a hardcore band, fronted by a woman who is pretty quiet in general. There were a handful of people I thought of right away when we were talking about organizing First Time’s The Charm, and a lot of them were other women I’ve attended a lot of shows with who I thought would kill it in bands if they got on stage. Melissa was one of those people and she proved me right!
Everyone in the crowd looks so happy.
Steph leaving the stage. She killed it!
Kelsey on drums during EZ Discount.
The rest of EZ Discount up front. My roommate Tiff was in this band. She plays in another awesome band called Batty. One thread that ran through most of the bands was that most of the band members were entirely new to playing music or to playing on stage, while one member was a seasoned veteran, having played in a lot of bands or currently plays in a band. I was really proud of those friends who took the time to be patient and supportive of friends who are trying this out for the first time. It’s not easy to play a supportive role when it’s probably more fun to play with other musicians who might push you or inspire you, but it’s really important and cool that so many folks were willing to do it. I think a lot of these bands wouldn’t have formed if they didn’t have someone to sort of show them the ropes.
Shira playing guitar for the first time in The Full-On Monets.
Bobbie in her first band!
My band played 6th. We messed up so much more than we ever expected, but it was still a really cool experience and it showed me that messing up really isn’t a big deal. We were able to keep going, I didn’t feel mortified, and I still had fun. It was sort of a worst case scenario and I’m glad I got it out of the way because now I won’t be afraid of it happening at future shows – because it’s really no big deal! I’m not a stage person. I get really hot faced and shakey and nervous before going on but I felt weirdly calm for our set. It was great. I obviously didn’t get any photos of us but here’s one I stole from Barrett’s instagram.
Jen playing guitar for the first time. She plays bass in the Ambulars but learned guitar for this band, Bad Names. They ruled!
A band of folks I didn’t know! It was exciting that this event reached outside of our scene and drew in some bands full of folks that weren’t in our little punk scene. I lost my camera for half the show because it was so crowded and there was gear evvvvverywhere. I set it down in the back room where everyone’s instruments were. Whoops!
Marge, tuning up in the back room.
Marge, on stage. So awesome!
I think the unsung hero of the night was Mikey. He worked the stage for all 15 bands. We were warned that it wouldn’t be as simple as setting up a backline and having people plug in, because newcomers especially aren’t sure of unfamiliar gear and might not know settings on amps and equipment that wasn’t their own. Boy did we underestimate that. We only started to get behind because it was taking a lot longer for folks to set up than we anticipated. I was totally in that boat myself. When I got on stage, I only knew what I was doing because we were using my amp and cables and tuner pedal. But when other bands asked me where they should plug in, I just asked Mikey every time. I had no idea. He got every band organized in very little time. We were under a really present time constraint the whole time and it was way more stressful than anticipated. But it worked out and the show ended exactly when it was supposed to despite running over for most of the show early on. Pheeeew.
Ultimately, the show was a big success. People seemed genuinely excited and happy about playing, people in the audience seemed really stoked and inspired and stuck it out for the long show, and we raised $1900 for a community PA share that we’re setting up as DIY PHL.