I’ve referenced Frank’s Garage a few times on this blog. Those intimately familiar with the legend of Science Club know that Frank’s Garage is the nadir of the band’s existence. It was a show in which everything that could go wrong did, a show so bad that I seriously considered quitting the band and forgoing music altogether.
In retrospect, the colossal failures of the show were no one’s fault but our own, as they always are. The show, which was held in Frank’s detached garage in Montgomery County, was an unregulated, drunken DIY slopfest. We played with some garage-rock band I cannot remember and our eternal bro-dudes in Scatterbrain (back when they were still The Next Big Thing, not just now when they are the next big thing). As was Science Club’s style at the time, we had not practiced for the show outside of one, maybe two, hurried sessions in my Conshohocken basement and an unplugged practice in my living room.
(Looking back on it now, I can’t even fathom how we kept calling ourselves “a band” when we went roughly 15 months without playing a show, practicing at all, or even doing anything outside of occasionally getting together to play music in someone’s living room. We were such jerkoffs.)
Rather than walk through every minute detail (both for your sake and for my own mental situation), I’ll just catalog every issue with the show.
- Because it was being playing in a garage, the sound was very bad, both for the people listening to us and for us to communicate with each other what songs we were playing.
- We played for 45 minutes which, at that point in our existence, is about 25 minutes too long for a band that doesn’t practice
- We played mostly new songs (most of which have been recorded or chucked altogether). Please see the pervious bullet point for why that was an issue.
- Right at the beginning of our cover of “Dancing the Dark,” which we can usually use to bring disinterested audiences back to our cause (which is often because, come on, we’re Science Club), I broke a sting. As a result, we played a 5-minute long, totally guitar-free version of the song.
- Once the show was over, not a single person clapped. Everyone just continued talking, which is always the telltale sign that you just ate it hard.
Looking at it now, it really doesn’t seem that bad. In my memory, however, it is a big failure, an ever-present reminder that I ain’t shit and, if I don’t work hard and try my best, I will never even be a forgettable, pleasant entertainment, I will only be a joke everyone gets but me.
I write this because, a few weeks back, I had my worst performance since Frank’s Garage.
KungFu Necktie is a cool venue. It’s on Front Street, a block up and away from the Frankford Avenue corridor in Philadelphia, the number-one spot to be a cool young person in the city (at least right now. It’s quickly turning into Graduate Hospital 2.0, what with its writeups in The New York Times and its Brooklyn transplants and its bikes and its counter-culture casualties and all. Pennsport and Point Breeze is where cool shit 3.0 is likely going down. So ends this edition of “Nate’s Hyper-Specific Philadelphia Gentrification Breakdown.”). It regularly hosts top-notch metal and punk shows, drawing bands as buzzed as Japandroids and as criminally forgotten as Pilot to Gunner.
It also has an upstairs where scene punk bands can play. We were up there.
Playing upstairs at KFN is like playing a house party: the layout is kind of weird, there’s a dirty couch you can sit on if you’re brave, the “bar” is just a fridge with some pounders in it, and it’s so loud that even the dude with the neck tattoo will say “fuck, that’s loud.” It’s a perfect place for our bullshit.
The first band of the night was Cheerbleeder, who was playing their first show. I can’t find too much on the Internet about them, but they ripped. They sounded a little bit like, I don’t know, White Lung? If White Lung was a garage rock band? It’s hard to say, but it was cool. Their lead singer had some crazy moves: she did a lot of squatting, like she was trying to take a shit in the woods, and, at one point, did a move that Nike described as “being like a baby and making me uncomfortable.” They were loud and fast and great. Go see Cheerbleeder.
We also played with All Bad, which, upon further research, features members of The Weaks and Amanda X, which explains why they were so fucking great. All Bad is an example of what pop-punk can sound like when everyone in the band is simultaneously excellent at their instrument and not giving a shit about it. Listen to them here, and then check them out when you get a chance. They don’t know this yet, but I’m going to try and book another show with them this summer.
The linchpin of this whole operation was Rochester’s Secret Pizza, who were finishing up their tour in Philly. Secret Pizza is some space-rock wildness. They sound like Yo La Tengo. They sound like My Bloody Valentine. The sound like Sonic Youth. They sound like pot smoke. They sound like a guy who was an asshole to everyone before he had a formative acid experience, and now just wants to be friendly to everyone. Tim, the lead guitarman from Secret Pizza, set the whole show up, and was cool enough to include us (fun fact: Tim was the guy who booked us at The Bug Jar in Rochester). I liked them so much that I bought one of their tapes, and I don’t even listen to tapes. Go listen to Secret Pizza now, please.
As for Science Club, we did fine as a band. We tried this thing where we played without a set list because it was cool in practice the week before, but it really didn’t work live. No one know if they should clap, or when they should clap, and while it was cool when everyone went nuts at the end of the set, there were a few moments when I was tuning my guitar or whatever when everyone was just standing quietly in a small room, and that was … uncomfortable.
Nick and Joe did great, per usual. Nick got to borrow someone’s bass amp, so his bass sounded great. Joey nailed all the drum parts. I sucked a big fat ass. Broke a string 1 song in. Blew my voice out like King Dipshit on the second song. Put new strings on my guitar that were a gauge too light, so strings kept jumping out of their correct lane and merging with other strings. Basically, I sounded like total shit, and, since there are only three of us in the band in the first place, I brought the team down. No one seemed to notice, which has now made me afraid that I sound like shit all the time.
Still and all, it was a good show. I saw some great bands. I got to see Tim, who is high in the running for “Friendliest Guy.” The booker at KFN is going to work with us again. We sold one of our dumb shirts and a few of our dumb CDs. I was kind of an asshat, but whatever. Our ride to the middle continues.
Setlist (maybe. This show was 2 weeks ago and I don’t remember)
- More Than a Man
- Song in the Sea
- Beach Song
- Pimp C
- Blood Ghost
- Train in Vain
- A Future Sure to Come
May 31: Kungfu Necktie, Philly
May 24: Ding Dong Lounge, NYC
April 6: JRs Bar, Philly
April 5: ABC No Rio, NYC
April 4: Monirae’s, Syracuse
April 3: Bug Jar, Rochester
March 23: Voltage Lounge, Philly
March 1: The Troc, Philly
Jan 11: Lit Lounge, NYC
Jan 10: Voltage Lounge, Philly