Someone is selling two tickets for $30 outside of Johnny Brenda’s for the sold-out show. Inside, it’s maybe more packed than I’ve ever seen the venue. Party hats are on taps. Everyone knows each other. It seems that people keep ordering the same smoky bacon beer that I think is terrible. Paul Vile, Kurt’s little bro, is beaming over his at least 5 foot wood-enforced jello shot mosaic that reads “War On Drugs” in red, orange and green mold. He calls himself @jellomanphilly, go ahead and follow him on Instagram.
It’s a magically weird night. I couldn’t be happier spending my last few hours of 2012 at the same venue I’ve spent so much of 2012 in. Avery Rosewater belts out fuzzy shoegaze to introduce Purling Hiss, who’s performing new songs from the upcoming March release Water On Mars.
War On Drugs plays through midnight, holding off about five minutes before the midnight mark to go through an ambient stutter steeped in anticipation, breaking through it song-for-song come 2013, at which point frontman Adam Granduciel releases this monstrosity of a mold meal to the crowd with Vile at the helm, ripping off shots and throwing them into a pit of kind of confused people who
eat? shoot them anyway. The way the group is able to captivate a full house through a moment that’s historically reserved for screaming numbers down is mesmerizing and a fact. The Drugs’ craft a set sure to barrel on for hours, changing temperature, leveling songs with harmonica and trumpet parts. Granduciel stops to introduce friends, playfully put them down, and bring up jokes and jello. He asks for a Jersey crowd count before he group rages into a Springsteen song so that if like not before, based on the hand count, no one’s going smoking or bathrooming until the show is over.
Later on in 2013, when the show is over, the party hats once decorating the bar have all gone home with strangers. People are dragging glittery streamers which were shot out from the sky under their shoes. It looks like the most glamorous toilet paper accident ever. Short plastic solo cups are dead everywhere, half empty with chunks of green and red. The smoking section outside grows and shrinks as each gang of taxi cabs rounds the corner of Frankford and Girard Ave.
Good luck for the new year. Everyone wants it, everyone has their superstitions. Some say eating Chinese food helps, some say ham. I say if this show is any indication of the year in local music to come, we don’t have to eat.