No, but seriously, thunderstorms and car accidents have been following us everywhere on this tour. We drove past the worst wreck we've seen yet on our way to the Danger Danger Gallery in Philly: car completely flipped; telephone pole cracked in half about 20 feet in the air, top half dangling in wires; 35 MPH zone. Someone needs to do an expose on city drag racing, i think--that shit's making a crazy mad comeback.
PREVIOUSLY ON "IFIHADAHIFI VS. PHILADELPHIA:"
We had an OK show in Philly in 2006 when we played a house venue called The Big Pink House (although we severely dropped the ball that night when, after two weeks of making John Mellencamp jokes, we opted for MotownPhilly jokes EVEN THOUGH WE WERE IN A PINK HOUSE), but our 2008 show in Philly with White Wrench Conservatory was a nightmare. Not only did we get to sit in a bar called The Fire and watch CC Sabathia get positively shelled by the Phillies during the Brewers' first playoff series since 1982, but then no one in the bar hopped across to the band room to watch us. We ended up playing in front of two of Dixie's friends, and that was it.
So we weren't all that thrilled to have to try to book a Philly show on this tour, and did all we could to avoid it. But our friend in Lancaster wasn't able to close a deal for us, and so, out of desperation, i emailed Danger Danger, a gallery that had never returned my emails in years previous. This time, however, they responded (!), and invited us to play their big anniversary benefit party to raise money for the gallery. Unfortunately, it being a benefit, it meant that touring bands would get no money out of the door, and we'd have to rely on merch sales. Having no other options and realizing that probably most all-ages kids in the area would be there, we agreed and decided to hope for the best.
Amazingly, we got pretty close. After a pair of, shell we say, more "sensitive" musical sets in the basement room of the gallery, HiFi set up and prepared to give these kids a good old-fashioned punk rock kick in the teeth. The venue did a great job of herding the audience into the room where the next band was playing, and--TAKE A LESSON FROM THIS, NASHVILLE--the kids were actively engaged with what was going on, which was excellent. I opened our set with a "We're IfIHadAHiFi from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We're a dance band. That's a hint, and you should take it," and launched into "Paulding Light." Yale kicked his stage antics into overdrive and we blasted those kids to the back of the room, much to their delight based on the loud, enthusiastic response. As all sets were limited to 25 minutes, we made sure to pack them with only the most crucial party jamz.
SET LIST: Paulding/Arson/Imperial Walker/Pot. Energy/Black Holes/Success
Zebras had an equally exuberant audience, including the occasional three-person circle pit during the more speedy numbers like "Me U God" and "Wiener Kids." All in all, these kids redeemed Philly in our eyes as a town where the kids know what's up.
HiFi managed to sell about $18 in merch, of which we proceeded to spend $12 upon our return to the previously lamented Fire. Our labelmates Trophy Wives were playing there and we not only wanted to see some solid bros in the middle of tour, but we wanted to help fill the room for them, because of course, based on our sample data of one weeknight show with no local band, shows at The Fire never draw. As it turns out, they had a few people there ("about...twelve?" their singer Billy estimated outside the venue), but we did a solid job of beefing up the attendance with our seven bodies (six of us and one Marissa Berlin). The TWives blasted through an as-usual killer set of tunes from their just-out-now-on-Latest-Flame record Old Scratch and handily dealt with a drunk Yale screaming at them to play a Wipers cover that they've forgotten. Post-show, Yale spied Billy by the side entrance and said "I'm gonna go punch him," to which i responded, "yes, that's a great idea. Punch Billy," knowing that Billy, being a man-mountain cross between an Appalachian pro wrestler and a bear, would be more than capable of ending that encounter like it was one of those "Messin' with Sasquatch" beef jerky ads. All Billy did, though, was ignore Yale and calmly walk into the bar, letting the door slam shut behind him while Yale drunkenly bellowed "BILLY I'M GOING TO PUNCH YOU!" Hilarity.
A recount of this evening would not be complete without a salutation to the fabulous Michael Markowski, who bought us all dinner at a killer pizza place/brewery across from Danger Danger, and filmed our performance. Another above and beyond gesture of graciousness from another awesome tour pal.
We are currently chilling in Marissa's parents' palatial estate, which is large enough to have me convinced that they are Hank Scorpio-level supervillains. A Jacuzzi tub? A shower with two heads? COME ON! Our hotel room at the Marriott was less luxurious.