Time for Phillies Ownership to Spend

This 2008 season is a year of Phillies firsts. It’s the first time two Japanese players have been on the Phillies roster at the same time, the first time a Phillies player has recorded more than 20 pinch hits, and the first time a Phillies closer has recorded 40 consecutive saves. It is also the first time the team payroll has eclipsed the $100 million mark.

The month of April began with the payroll at a club record $103 million. With a significant chunk of that waving goodbye behind Pat Burrell, Tom Gordon and Jamie Moyer after this season, next year’s payroll is still set to rise, regardless of any future signings.

But everybody knows how frugal the ownership has been with money in the past. Aaron Rowand? Forget about it. Alfonso Soriano? Didn’t happen. Aramis Ramirez? Not even pursued.

The players want a championship. The fans need a championship. With the core group of players growing one year older and one year richer, the window of opportunity is closing. It’s time for ownership to really open their wallets and make a run at the title.

The Phillies will always be able to hold their heads high when looking back on the triumphant 2007 season. But last year’s team was a rarity — one that fit the definition of the word ragtag.

Relying on a new hero every night, that squad was a group of fighters left for dead as nearly every star player, bound together with bandages and ice packs, plummeted from grace to leave another gaping depression in the growing crater field that became the 2007 disabled list.

But as those stars fell, a group of unknowns stepped out from beyond the bleary curtain of obscurity to make their own lasting marks on the fabled season if just in one spot, in one game.

Who could forget Kyle Kendrick’s 10-win rookie campaign, Russell Branyan’s late go-ahead homerun in a tight August contest in Washington, or Tadahito Iguchi sliding into home to send the Mets limping back to Shea after a four-game sweep?

The stars have been aligned for the Phillies this year and disabled list stints are rare, so the team has been relying more heavily on the higher-salaried regulars. But players like Chase Utley, Brett Myers and Cole Hamels won’t be bargains for much longer.

Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Brett Myers and Brad Lidge will earn a combined $42 million in 2009, with Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels likely to combine for just under another $20 million in arbitration. For those counting, that’s well more than half the payroll locked up between six players.

But we need more, even with Pat Burrell nearing the final days of the six-year, $50 million contract he signed under Fast Eddie Wade prior to the 2003 season. Jamie Moyer insists that he will pitch next season, but it is yet to be told whether or not he will don a Phillies cap anytime past this September or October. Tom Gordon’s club option is almost certain to be declined. Rudy Seanez, So Taguchi, Scott Eyre and Tadahito Iguchi will also be on their way out the door.

That leaves next year’s squad down a power-hitting corner outfielder, middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, eighth inning setup man and a smorgasbord of utility players and aging relievers.

Imagine Pat Burrell being completely out of the equation for 2009. That would leave Victorino in center, Werth in right and an everyday lefty platoon of Geoff Jenkins and Matt Stairs in left. Sure, prospect Greg Golson could provide great defense and comes at a low cost, but his offense is not yet primed for the major leagues. It’s clear that the best bet is to re-sign Pat Burrell. He wants to play here. The organization wants him to play here. Although he’s nearly 32 and not getting any younger, $15 million a year for three years should suffice.

The rotation is shaping up to be very cost-efficient with Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton heading for fairly modest arbitration raises. Brett Myers’ salary will jump just $3.5 million while the organization will set Kyle Kendrick’s salary well below $1 million.

Wherever Moyer ends up, he will receive a pay hike from this year’s mark of $5.5 million. With J.A. Happ and Carlos Carrasco waiting in the wings, it’s a tough call to say whether or not the Phillies will attempt to re-sign him. While Happ and Carrasco seem ready for the majors, their lack of experience could worry the front office since Kendrick has struggled mightily this season. It might be too risky to throw two question marks into the starting five. Happ and Carrasco could be dangled as trade bait to acquire a proven starter, or maybe even as bounty to revisit the fabled Matt Holliday swap that fell apart just before July’s trade deadline.

There are in-house options for nearly every hole next season, but this year’s free agent class is one of the most impressive in recent memory. The added revenue this season’s record 47 sellouts (and counting) needs to be invested back into the organization.

Phillies brass: stop saving your money for a rainy day. Philadelphia has been locked in an unremitting dry season since 1980. The time to spend is now. Open your wallets and spend the fan’s money on what the fans want to see. Bring back Pat the Bat. If Moyer wants to stay here, give him a contract. Make some off-season splashes. Make a run at Sabathia. We don’t expect him to come, but it’s worth a shot.

You can contact Zach Patten at sportsrec@campusphilly.org.

Indoor Garden 101

If you’re looking for a way to liven up the tile floors and white walls of dorm room or apartment, turn to indoor plants. Not only are houseplants inexpensive to maintain, but they help purify the air while sprucing up your room and lightening your mood.

Common houseplants like ferns and ivy are nice, but they aren’t recommended for eating unless you’ve been having an identity crisis, grazing on grass throughout the day. There is only one way to find out if you have a green thumb–pick out some fruit or vegetable seeds and try your hand at indoor gardening.

Carrots, onions, cherry tomatoes and strawberries all require less than one gallon of growing space in a simple plastic container. Don’t feel that you have to go out and break the bank on gardening pots; your plants will grow just fine in a clean one-gallon milk carton that is cut in half.

I would recommend growing strawberries over the other choices. They are filled with antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin K. They go great by themselves or as a topping for a bowl of ice cream of piece of cake if you’re looking for a sugary snack.

The four vegetables and fruits mentioned above are nearly effortless to grow indoors, so make a trip out to your local home and garden center and grab some seed packets and high quality potting soil.

Try to limit each container to one seed, buried about two inches below the surface of the dirt. Leave it as close to your window as possible and keep the soil damp. You want your plant to receive as much sunlight as possible while watering it twice a day to make sure that the soil doesn’t dry out and become inhospitable for your young plant.

Your plant will begin to sprout just a few days after it is planted. In just a few shorts weeks, you’ll have a container full of plump red strawberries ready for picking. Be sure to keep watering the plant so it will continue to grow after you pluck the first string of berries.

For less than ten dollars you can liven up your dreary cinderblock dorm room with plants that keep you smiling. Try your hand at indoor gardening and reap the many benefits of growing your own fruits and vegetables!

You can contact Zach Patten at food@campusphilly.org.

Hip Hop Live! Hits Philly

On Oct. 21 the 2nd Annual Hip Hop Live! Tour will heat up the Trocadero with Talib Kweli, David, Banner and B.O.B. with backing by the Rhythm Roots All-Stars.

Presented by Sony and Flow TV, a fairly new hip-hop cable station, this year’s trek will embark on a 19 city tour beginning in San Diego at Cane’s on Sept. 28 and will come to a close in New York City at the Nokia Theater in Times Square on Oct. 25, nicely bridging the west coast and the east.

Hip Hop Live! is a groundbreaking national tour that aims to fuse rhymes and live instrumentation, a preliminary Aug. 25 press release said.

This year, all artists will be backed once again by the 10-piece band Rhythm Roots All-Stars, an innovative group from Los Angeles who were a part of Hip Hop Live!’s innaugural outing last year supporting the numerous sold out shows of Ghostface Killah, Rakim and Brother Ali. The All Stars have also performed/recorded with the likes of the Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake and Outkast.

Brooklyn bred rapper Talib Kweli will take the reigns on this year’s tour. The former Black Star member and Campus Philly Kick-Off 2007 headliner, is still riding high off his latest album Ear Drum, which was the first to be released on Kweli’s own record label, Blacksmith Music. The rumored favorite artist of Jay-Z and 50 Cent has been keeping himself busy signing artists like South African-born female rapper Jean Grae and California based Strong Arm Steady, but hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to his talent on the stage.

Right behind Kweli is David Banner, a rapper, model, actor, record producer, label executive and philanthropist who likes to make his opinions known. With his July release The Greatest Story Ever Toldspawning chart toppers like Get Like Me, the Jackson, MS native has chosen a great outlet in Hip Hop Live! to showcase his immense talent and southern charm.

Splitting the duties of tour opener are Little Brother and B.O.B. Little Brother, on the tour from Sept. 28 – Oct. 13 and then returning Oct. 24 and 25, will be dropping tunes from their long-awaited third album, Get Back. Members Phonte and Big Pooh have quickly moved up the ranks in hip-hop circles worldwide, having toured with Hieroglyphics and Philly’s own The Roots and performing at famous festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza.

The reputation of B.O.B., who will be with the tour from Oct. 14 – Oct. 25, including the Philly stop, has preceded him. The 19 year-old rapper from Atlanta, GA has sparked hip-hop fans’ interest with his smooth combination of raps and guitar on his highly anticipated debut, The Adventures of B.O.B.

Philly hip-hop station Power 99 F.M. will play host for what is sure to be an incredible night featuring some of the hottest talent in hip-hop today. And as if the lineup wasn’t enough to get you there, the first 1000 concert goers to the Philly show will receive a pair of Sony EX earbud headphones at the venue.

Tickets are on sale now at the Trocadero box office (10th & Arch) for $26, $28 day of show. This is an 18+ event.

For more information on Hip Hop Live!, please visit www.hiphoplivetour.com

You can contact Cara Donaldson at entertainment@campusphilly.org

College Day/Canvas Clash PR Event

The sunny skies and bustling lunchtime crowd of Center City’s Love Park proved to be a perfect backdrop for the official announcement of College Day on the Parkway and Canvas Clash this afternoon.

This year’s College Day festival occurs this Saturday, rain or shine, from the 2000 to 2200 blocks of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Mark Focht, the executive director of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park system, announced Fairmount Park’s new partnership with Philadelphia Trolley Works. This new partnership will bring the sixth trolley stop to the Welcome Center at Love Park in JFK Plaza, serving as a new point of origin for trolley and bus tours.

Focht stressed the tour’s mission of providing beautiful tours of Fairmount Park while promoting and celebrating the best of arts and culture in Philadelphia.

Canvas Clash will take place for the second straight year in Love Park on Saturday. Serving as a platform for emerging artists, this event will feature six teams of artists assembling and creating art based on the focus of “change,” dealing with issues such as energy conservation and brotherly love.

Canvas Clash, which will take place from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., will also include a stage with several live bands (The PoPo, The Peace Creeps and The Hustle) throughout the day.

Campus Philly, a non-profit organization aimed at encouraging college students to study, live and work in Philadelphia, produces College Day, which is sponsored by The City of Philadelphia and its museums. Jon Herrmann, executive director of Campus Philly, spoke to the crowd, announcing the line-up of events taking place on Saturday. Armor for Sleep, The Cool Kids and Twelve Twenty will perform on the Intern U music stage, with several local bands scheduled to perform on the Campus Philly stage throughout the day. There will also be a Nocturnal Skate Demo and performances by Red Bull TNT Motocross.

College Day will also permit college students to gain free access to 11 Philadelphia museums upon presenting a college ID. Mary Teeling, the head of public programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was on hand to promote her concept of a ripple effect; one that encourages students into the city, become comfortable in Philadelphia, and branch out to become urban explorers to experience the sights and sounds of what Philadelphia has to offer.

Two busloops will begin at the Rodin Museum, just south of the Art Museum on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday. The museums have added a sixth bus to the fleet in order to easily shuttle students around to different museum stops.

Bringing the press conference to an end, Teeling pointed off in the distance at the famous sculpture a few hundred feet away in Love Park, declaring, “We want students to be in love with this city.”

For more information, visit campusphilly.org/collegeday

You can contact Zach Patten at sportsrec@campusphilly.org

Get to Know: Victor Victor Band

Q: Describe your band’s sound in five words or less.

A: See 2. Hear 5.

Q: What makes Victor Victor Band stand out from other local Philly bands?

A: We give a high energy performance. We are two people that have a unique and very full sound. We perform, not just play our instruments.

Q: Fill in the blank: One thing no one knows about Victor Victor Band is ____________.

A: Our secret.

Q: Which of your songs will get the best crowd reaction and why?

A: Saw it in the Sky–the song goes through a lot of changes and people enjoy watching us play it and react to the changes and sing along with the words (if they know them). Folsom Prison Blues –our unique take on this song is always a crowd pleaser. People like to sing along and dance to it.

Q: How will your performance at College Day differ from any shows you’ve played before?

A: It won’t. We give each and every performance our all. The only difference is we’ll be playing to a lot of college students, which is awesome.

Q: What do you think of the current Philly music scene?

A: There is a plethora of bands in Philly right now, and a lot of them are really good and lacking exposure.

Q: What will you be doing after your College Day performance?

A: We will be passing out, having come from playing two performances the day before at the Dewey Beach Music Conference. We’re driving straight to College Day on the Parkway from Dewey Beach.

For more information about Victor Victor Band, visit their Myspace.

Get to Know: Robes

Q: Describe your band’s sound in five words or less.

A: We’re lucky Philebrityliked it.

Q: What makes Robes stand out from other local Philly bands?

A: We started because we wanted to win 75 bucks at our middle school’s battle of the bands.

Q: Fill in the blank: One thing no one knows about Robes is ______________________.

A: Josh (bass) had straight hair until he was struck by lightning earlier this year. We feel pretty bad about his melted brain, but we like the new look.

Q: Which of your songs will get the best crowd reaction and why?

A: Our last song when we throw dollar bills into the crowd and set off really expensive pyrotechnics.

Q: How will your performance at College Day differ from any shows you’ve played before?

A: Mainly the throwing-dollar-bills-into-the-crowd-and-setting-off-really-expensive-pyrotechnics part.

Q: What do you think of the current Philly music scene?

A: Ryan (guitar) wrote the demo while he was serving a 5-year jail sentence for trying to steal an armored vehicle. So he’s kinda new to the scene. The rest of us have curfews, so we don’t really know much about it–just glad our set is before dark.

Q: What will you be doing after your College Day performance?

A: We’re gonna sneak out and go to the MEGAWORDS Closing Party. You should attend as well: www.megawordsmagazine.com.

For more information about Robes, visit their Myspace.

Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man has made a lasting indentation in the minds of music fans and critics everywhere with their new album, Censored Colors.

The Alaska bred band has been known for their intricate harmonies, lasting image filled lyrics and other worldly sound, none of which is lost on this, their third full-length album.

I was hooked from the moment opening track Lay Me Back Down began. It’s like a proclamation, announcing to everyone that for the next 53 minutes we are being held captive by this band.

Censored Colorsseems to be an album devoted to the human condition. Songs like Colors and Created show us the silver lining in death and serve to illustrate the beautiful dichotomy in which our world (and this album) exist.

Although And I is one of the earlier tracks of the album, on many levels it is the most powerful. The vocals of John Baldwin Gourley soar out of the softness, jolting you awake, and into a cyclone of musical talent that shows no sign of dispersing anytime soon.

Other songs, like Salt and 1989, firmly establish P.TM in a certain genre, sounding similar to their partners in the indie scene, The Shins and The Walkmen.

It has become the practice of many bands as of late to literally have an intermission splitting up the parts of albums. P.TM has followed suit with their track, plainly titled Intermission, that’s a cross between an old Western’s hero cowboy theme and elevator music gone wrong. It is brilliant in it’s combination and eerie in its execution.

The always opinionated P.TM includes New Orleans which, with its slow pace and ethereal melodies, could serve as the funeral march for that great city ravaged by Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

P.TM has recently continued their political onslaught, turning to the upcoming presidential election. Wasilla natives Gourley and Zachary Scott Carothers have publicly chastised Alaska Governor and GOP Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin for her abuse of power and failure to bring change where it is sorely needed. In a blog on the band’s official website, Gourley writes about the things that America doesn’t need, many of which will come to pass if the McCain/Palin ticket is elected to office.

Hard Times is a relatable and introspective tune about the trials and tribulations that every person endures or chooses to ignore. The song then bleeds into Our Times, a rousing anthem suitable for any mob, with the simple line of talkin’ ’bout our times repeating to soothe and unify the masses.

The outro of later track All Mine is one of the most haunting, out of tune piano solos I have heard in a long time. It is a piece of music that will stick to your bones for a lifetime.

If you weren’t aware of Portugal. The Man before Censored Colors, get familiar. While the band’s previous releases were nice or fairly mediocre, this is definitely the album that will skyrocket them into the spotlight for good.

Censored Colorsis available now on Approaching AIRballoons/Equal Vision Records.

Catch Portugal. The Man when they play Allentown’s Crocodile Rock on Oct. 30.

You can contact Cara Donaldson at entertainment@campusphilly.org

Tailgating Philly Style

The transition from summer to fall brings more to South Philadelphia’s Sports Complex than the changing colors of street-side flora, fresh Superbowl hopes and crazed fans decked out in green face paint.

The Eagles football season ushers in an entirely new breed of tailgaters; a breed that takes a lot of pride in their pre-game parking lot parties. Tailgating is taken seriously by organizations such as the United States Tailgating Association and the American Tailgaters Association.

Being a member of these clubs isn’t mandatory in order to have fun with your pre-game celebration. A few simple pointers will get you on your way to having a great tailgating party.

First, make sure to plan accordingly. Check the weather reports before heading out to the game that morning. The last thing you want is to buy all the food and accessories for a great pre-game celebration just to wind up chewing on rain-soaked hamburger buns and potato chips in the cab of your truck while wishing you had checked the forecast before leaving.

Don’t make the menu tougher than it needs to be. Béchamel cheese sauces and cremini mushrooms don’t belong at a tailgate party. Simplicity is the key. Burgers, hot dogs and chicken are easy to cook, simple to clean up and require little cookware to lug around.

Take advantage of the pre-packaged, pre-formed hamburger patties available at many local supermarkets. These patties can come in special flavors and varieties, which, if you’re discreet, you can pass off as your own creation to further impress your fellow partygoers.

The importance of food safety cannot be stressed enough. Make sure to scrub down your grill grates, knives and spatulas thoroughly before heading out to your tailgate party. Set aside a cooler of ice specifically for keeping the meat at a safe temperature. Dispose of that ice immediately after cooking your food. You don’t want to accidentally fill cool your soda with the ice that’s been mixed in with raw hamburger all day.

Keep in mind the company that will be swinging by your party. Is anyone vegan or vegetarian? Any food allergies? Make sure to have some snacking options based around vegetables or beans to keep everyone pleased.

Make it a point to stock up on disposable plates, utensils, napkins and ice. Ideally, you won’t need forks or knives, but it’s better to have them just in case. Ice is crucial, so make sure to bring more than you think will be needed. Warm soda won’t lure any crowds to your party.

Stick with these tips and you’ll be guaranteed a smooth tailgating experience as you head down to the stadiums this fall!

You can contact Zach Patten at food@campusphilly.org.

Leathermouth Opens for Reggie

Reggie and the Full Effect, also known as James Dewees, honored Philly by playing his final show ever at The Theatre of the Living Arts on Sept. 14. Still sticking to his roots after all these years, Dewees brought along friends Warship, Leathermouth and MC Chris to help celebrate his final hoorah.

The TLA was about half full when Warship took the stage. The recently formed Long Island band played with a semi-traditional, classic style with not too much craziness and experimentation. They seemed to have generally a good rhythm, even though singer Fran Mark (formerly of From Autumn To Ashes) screamed all his lyrics. This was the first time Warship has played in Philly and they were well received by the traditionally critical Philly crowd. Towards the end of the set Warship had everyone moving. This is a great testament to crowd control. Even I found myself lost in their melodies, which was surprisingly easy to do.

Songs like Wounded Paw and The Jersey Sweep were hypnotic with an underlying evilness to them. It was easy to tell that Warship was rooted in typical metal band ways–repetitiveness, the long hair of guitarist Rob Lauritsen (also of FATA fame). But they made it work without being cheesey and that I completely admire. The band closed with Toil, the only song I had heard previous to this show. I liked it enough that I put it on my MySpace page and it was even better live. Warship’s debut album, Supply and Dependcomes out on Vagrant Records Nov. 4.

Leathermouth was next to take the stage to an anticipating crowd of My Chemical Romance junkies. Since the beast that is MCR is taking a much needed break, rhythm guitarist Frank Iero can pursue his vocal skills in his New Jersey based side project.

The makeshift, all white uniforms of Leathermouth did not detract from their insanely manic performance. This was the first time the band had performed in Philly and they unleashed the ultimate assault on the city, one that I don’t think anyone was prepared for. Leathermouth played nearly every song from their long-time-coming album that will be released (hopefully) in the remaining months of 2008. You know a band has great fans when they know every word to every song from an album that hasn’t even been released yet. Leviathan, 5th Period Massacre, and Sunsets Are For Mugging were offset by the oldie-but-goody My Love Note Has Gone Flat and Murder Was The Case That They Gave Me, which, if you’re wondering, has nothing to do with the Snoop Dogg track.

For whatever reason, this night the TLA decided not to put up a barricade so the crowd was flush against the stage. Iero took advantage of this, playing most of the show almost literally in the crowd and shocked everyone when he called onstage fellow MCR member Ray Toro to shred guitar for a song. Watching Leathermouth take over the TLA with such power and confidence further supported my theory that this band is evolving into something great.

MC Chris, a late addition, to this final stop of the tour, completely knocked me off my high from Warship and Leathermouth. Unlike the rest of the bands on the bill, MC Chris is one dude (Chris Ward IV) and he’s a rapper, part of the nerdcore section of hip-hop. He is also pretty bizarre. I can’t even tell you the names or topics of the songs he sang because that would violate the censorship rules of Campus Philly so decipher from that what you will.

Score one for diversity at shows, but I just found myself saying, ‘What the…?’ over and over throughout his whole performance. But he was sincere, I’ll give him that. He told some story about how he got held up at gunpoint and still lived and even in the face of that, opening up for Reggie was …the best thing that has ever happened to me. And he’s doing good for the community. To date, MC Chris has raised $16,000 for cystic fibrosis research.

I guess MC Chris is a comedian as well as a rapper, and I will admit that I did laugh at some parts, but I found it extremely annoying that he would start a song over if the crowd didn’t do a hand motion perfectly. There were a few points that I enjoyed (very few) one of which was when MC Chris tacked on his own rendition of Weezer’s Buddy Holly to the end of one of his own songs. Another was when he performed a song that a fan had remixed for him with MIA’s Paper Planes as the beat track. I was quite bored but MC Chris seemed to have a number of fans in the crowd who enjoyed themselves immensely.

The crowd was pretty amped up by the time Reggie and the Full Effect hit the stage. James Dewees on his signature keyboard, showed up in Peter Criss makeup and opened with a song sung by Criss called Beth. After this strange intro, Dewees announced that he has a special reason for playing his last show ever in Philadelphia.

This is the city where I played my very first show and this is the city where I’m playing my very last show so it comes full circle, Dewees said.

He then warned the crowd to Get ready for some weird ****, which was an understatement. Somehow Dewees ended up in a blond wig and too-small Hannah Montana t-shirt and went on to deliver one of the most hysterical performances I have ever seen.

Eventually Dewees was joined onstage by Leathermouth’s Frank Iero on bass. This was a snapshot of deja vu for My Chemical Romance fans. For the past 2 years, Dewees had toured with MCR playing keyboard for the band’s last album, The Black Parade. Fran Mark from Warship also reprised his original role as a drummer for the Reggie set.

Throughout the set, Dewees recounted his many memories of living, working and playing in Philly with hilarious anecdotes from playing at the First Unitarian Church to just causing trouble with friends in the best place to hang out as Dewees put it. He even wrote a song for the city (or so he claimed) called Better For You.

The night rolled on like some crazy frat party where everyone is your friend and no one stops laughing. Reggie’s near 2 hour set included songs from every album or release like favorites What The Hell Is Contempt, J-Train and There You Go and classics Your Girlfriends Hate Me, Thanks For Dumping Me and Come On Happy Chickens.

I felt very privileged to be a part of Reggie’s last show. This is the way concerts should always be–fun and full of love. Although it was sad saying goodbye to a great part of my (and Dewees’) music history, it was the most fun I have had all summer and definitely one of the best shows of 2008.

Dewees has always had his hand in multiple music projects and he is currently writing a full album for his British techno-pop alter-ego Fluxuation. It is also rumored that an album for his other project, Common Denominator is in the works and that his most famous band, The Get-Up Kids might be planning a reunion. We’ll just have to wait and see what Dewees and friends pull out of their hats next!

You can contact Cara Donaldson at entertainment@campusphilly.org

Metal Core Series Concert Review

A whole mass of shrieking metal core descended on Philadelphia on Aug. 31 at the Starlight Ballroom. August Burns Red made the second stop on their new tour bringing with them Sky Eats Airplane, A Skylit Drive, Greeley Estates and This Or The Apocalypse.

This was the perfect show for me to attend at this point in my life because for the past two months or so I have been obsessed with the sound of the double pedal kick drum, a musical component that’s overly used in this type of music. I’ve also been really mad at the world and could use a good scream.

The show was supposed to be in the basement of the First Unitarian Church. Once I saw just how many kids packed the Starlight, I understood immediately why they moved it–the Church would have been bursting at the seams! But what annoyed me is that they moved the time the doors opened. There was already another event booked at Starlight and the concert needed to be completely packed up and moved out by 10 p.m. So the doors opened at 5:30 p.m. and the show started at 6 p.m. If I wasn’t the psycho concert freak that I am and showed up at 5 p.m. I would’ve missed half the show.

Because the show had to move up in time, the bands sets we cut short. You would blink and they would be done. The tour and the bands were playing only 20-25 minute sets! A as a friend to many bands, I can imagine how they must have felt. And actually, after talking to Michael Jagmin (who was kind of my insider to all this drama), singer for A Skylit Drive, I knew how they felt. Surprise, surprise–no one was happy.

But my anger over this eventually subsided when I started to explore the Starlight Ballroom. For as concert savvy as I consider myself to be, I have never been to this venue. It is, in a word, amazing! From the outside, it’s entirely unassuming and shady. But once you walk through the doors, you find this underground atmosphere in a massive space that is warm and scary, intimate and vast. I just love it and would go again, no matter who was playing. But for this crowd, I was shocked to see no security up front at the barricade. Needless to say there was slam dancing, moshing and crowd surfing galore AKA pure and absolute mayhem. It was wonderful to watch.

The night started out with This Or The Apocalypse, who were a late add on to the tour just days before. The band promoted their new album, Monuments, which comes out Sept. 16 on Lifeforce Records. Monuments is a follow-up to 2006’s Sentinalsand gives us amazing new tracks like Manu Kea and Two Wars. As they played, I found myself falling deeper and deeper in love with TOTA, especially singer Rick Armellino, and I’m not too sure why. Maybe it’s because they remind me of Misery Signals. Maybe it’s because we share the same hometown state (they band hails from Lancaster). I think it’s because they play with such a heavy awkwardness that it comes off as major genius. I think this band could front the technical metal core arena someday.

Greeley Estates was up next and I was really shocked that they weren’t headlining. With the exception of August Burns Red, Greeley was the only band out of the bunch that I had any long term experience with. I’ve always admired their smooth transitions between the slow and melodic to the frantic and out of control massive guitar riffs and percussion assault. I was just a little distraught that they played such a short set.

California band A Skylit Drive followed Greeley. I had first heard of this band about a year ago from a friend and since then have grown very fond of the drumming of Cory LaQuay and the guitar styling of Joey Wilson and Nick Miller. It is so hard to break out of anywhere or into anything these days, but ASD impressed me so much with their album Wires and the Concept of Breathing songs like I’m Not a Thief, I’m a Treasure Hunter (a personal favorite) and the title track of the new album really seemed to hit home with the crowd. But it is not an exaggeration to say that I was crushed that they didn’t get to play my favorite song, Hey Nightmare, Where Did You Get Them Teeth? from their 2007 EP She Watched The Sky. Another casualty of the cut set times.

Sky Eats Airplane, another band recommended by the same friend, followed. While she hit dead on with A Skylit Drive, Sky Eats Airplane fell short with me. The band did something that I absolutely love: their production team made the lights strobe and pulsate to the music. But to be honest, their sound was kind of, to put it bluntly, stupid. They tried to intermix techno/electronica with hardcore/metal and to me it just came off sounded very annoying. The band played new songs The Artificial and Numbers from their self-titled album which was released back in July and I found myself just so bored. But on a humorous note, it seemed like every time I looked up, singer Jerry Roush, dressed in white, had his arms outstretched in front of a silhouetting bright light. I think he thinks he’s the big man upstairs.

It was finally time for August Burns Red and the Lancaster natives delivered the strong, fierce performance everyone was waiting for. The set was visually stunning–the bodies of the crowd jumping and surfing, outlined by red or white light. The band’s songwriting is entirely complex, a trait which spills out into their music composition as well. I’ve always thought that ABR has this sinister yet melodic sound, which if you can comprehend it, turns out being kind of a nice dichotomy. ABR played a number of songs from their most recent release 2007’s Messengersincluding An American Dream and their Carol Of The Bells (yes, it’s a Christmas song in August) cover, which singer Jake Luhrs dedicated to all the hardcore Phillies fans, especially guitarist JB Brubaker.

I find the dynamics of these metalcore bands fascinating. You can’t understand a single thing they say so you have to gauge the success of the song by how it makes you feel. It’s chaos if you thrust yourself right into the middle of the mayhem these bands cause. But if you stay on the outskirts as an observer, it can almost be seen as art.

You can contact Cara Donaldson at entertainment@campusphilly.org