Many a night I’ve tried to start a mosh pit at The Balcony Bar in The Troc during Skeletor Karaoke. I’m never successful despite my alcohol fueled brain thinking it’s a good idea, but much to the chagrin of my fellow minions, I try anyways. Skeletor Karaoke may not be the time and place but I was finally given the perfect opportunity. It was a rockabilly freakout upstairs at the bar, and while the humidity may have been desperately trying to destroy the pomp game in the house, it did nothing to stop a group of sweaty greasers from tearing up the small floor during the recent Koffin Kats show.
The Koffin Kats have been around since 2003, starting as a local Detroit band. They have made a career out of touring and are ever en route to the next gig, the next town, and the next country. On this hot and sticky Sunday in the City of Brotherly Love, The Koffin Kats landed in Chinatown for a kick ass show at this intimate venue. With almost 15 years of touring and recording under their belts, there was no doubt that this was going to be a great live show and, not for nothing, it actually wound up being a better time than Social D’s performance at The Fillmore. For the first time this summer, the show started at the time that was promoted and the time between acts was minimal. While the size of The Balcony gives a great local show feel, the well paced evening kept the energy up and helped avoid long lulls in between bands where the bar usually empties while everyone smokes.
Kicking off the night was a local band, Cthulhu Martini. With Tony Revolta leading in a slick, white suit that looked pulled from the wardrobe of Chuck Berry, these Philly natives were a great way to get things started. Their sound was a little punk mixed with rockabilly, all carried out with a splash of whiskey. This late on a Sunday, or this early on at a show depending on how you look at it, unfortunately there wasn’t enough whiskey to get the crowd into a mosh pit frenzy. Their talent and crowd appeal was still evident, however, as hips started swaying and rocking along to the sounds. They played for a good 30-40 minutes and by the time they were done, I had to step outside to get some air and dry off as things were clearly starting to heat up upstairs at The Troc.
Keeping it local with the opening bands, next up on the evening’s card was Sometimes The Devil. Hailing from Tom’s River in New Jersey, this self described punkabilly band had quite the following in the house that night and once they took the stage, it was plain to see why. Keeping the energy cranked up high and the atmosphere full of rock and roll badassery, the four piece all male band was just what this very packed crowd needed to get a pit up and going. Giving us yet another fast paced, well timed set, Sometimes The Devil proved to be a band worth coming out for.
As good as they were though, nothing could compare to the men of the hour, The Koffin Kats. The more traditional rockabilly act of the night, their three piece featured Vic Victor, the band’s founder, on the upright bass. You really have no idea the how much I’m swooning as I say that. I’m a sucker for a man that plays a tight upright, and when he plays it well enough to lift it over his head, between his legs, and any other position he chooses, you can understand why a thick lady like me with a penchant for pomps would go gaga for that guy. Ladies, you can keep Mike Ness! He’s hot and all, but if he can’t hold an upright bass over his head while playing, he can’t handle what I got anyways. As if Vic isn’t talented enough, Tommy Koffin, after a bit of a hiatus, is back and touring with the band and shows just as much prowess on the doghouse. The two went back and forth with their instruments performing tricks and stunts that were not only entertaining to watch, but sounded great, too. Performing an array of music from their 8 album catalog, they sent me home with my fair share of bruises.
I really love rockabilly pits because they tend to be this mix of swing dancing and moshing, like a bunch of people just swinging around somewhat violently to rock music that has punk roots with a heavy dose of country twang. It’s a great way to blow off steam, and tends to be equally full of men and women. Of course the space is small, so there were a number of pileups. But believe it or not, there was even some crowd surfing that despite the space and amount of alcohol people had consumed, went along well with nobody taking a crash to the floor.
This was my first experience seeing a musical act in this venue. I’ve seen burlesque and of course have graced the stage myself many a time pretending to be a rock star and crooning alternate lyrics to popular songs, sometimes even in cosplay, but this was a first and a real treat. I love intimate settings and The Balcony is about as intimate as you can get for a band that has traveled and toured all over the world. While I’ve never been a huge show goer, the one thing that will always get me out is a good rockabilly band. Fast paced, upright bass, and good looking greasers dressed in their summer vintage/punk/retro finest…that’s definitely the place for me. Add in a decent priced bar and a venue that, while on the small side, offers a lot of great vantage points where you can lounge at the bar and still have a great view of the show. But why sit at the bar when you can jump into a pit full of swingers fueled by high octane pussy?