Out Like a Lion, Gigspots-Style
Curious how my last weekend of March turned out? Hexbelt grooved the Lancaster Dispensing Company Friday night. They command that room like few other local acts. It might be torrid musicianship. It might be a devoted following. Surely one led to the other. People dance joyously at their shows. Plus, Danny can climb to the ceiling.
I did make it to Wrightsville to witness the official grand opening of Burning Bridge Tavern. It bills itself as a friendly sports bar. It appears to be much more than that. The place was packed with people eating burgers and wings and large TV’s hung in every sightline. A duo played covers and Vinegar Creek Constituency was performing later. It’s big, clean and comfortable: part rustic, part urban. The joint was hopping and 200 people looked happy. With the Burning Bridge joining John Wright’s down the street, it appears the scene in Wrightsville is building a bridge to get bands and fans from Lancaster crossing “the moat” more regularly.
I made it from Wrightsville to north Philly in 95 minutes. Kate and I had dinner at Max Brenner’s on 15th and Walnut. Part chocolate shop, part coffee bar, part bistro: it simmered and swirled us. An avocado BLT and fish tacos, both yummy and relatively healthy, were obliterated by a most decadent dessert. The Euphoria sundae featured chocolate and peanut butter ice creams, peanut butter, fudge, nuts, crunchy praline kind of things and was accompanied by ramekins of warm chocolate and peanut butter fondues. Every bite was different and transporting, like watching clouds loft by and then being them.
MilkBoy Philly knocked me out. The ground floor looks like a cool dairy bar but is every bit of a real bar. Unique cocktails, 30+ draught and canned beer selection and cheap featured shots beckoned. The menu almost made me wish I had skipped dessert but Euphoria was still upon me. My next visit will pivot around Mac ‘n Cheese Chili Rellenos and a Hand-Carved Brisket Au Jus sandwich with fries, I guarantee.
Upstairs is the music venue: a 6,000 watts of Clair Brothers sound-system kind of venue. It holds 200 and was maxed Saturday night. Local killing bands The Peace Creeps and TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb played the 9:30 and 11pm slots. I drove in to see the headliner, Kalob Griffin Band, but these two bands alone would have been worth the $10 cover. The frontman and guitarist for Peace Creeps also played a theremin like a wiry, wily wizard: trippy rock and blues. TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb lived up to their name: big, powerful and laying waste to the place. Their sound is a bit old-timey and a bit sinister: like George Thorogood’s hillbilly uncle.
Kalob Griffin showed up shaved; I didn’t recognize him until he smiled! He’s actually a pretty handsome dude. It made me wonder if he would play “Beards.” His Band was primed and 200 people were chanting, “KGB! KGB!” when they took the stage at midnight. Even the employees were excited; they all remarked on the size and enthusiasm of the crowd.
KGB opened with a new song, “American Dream,” and people were going nuts. The band actually debuted a bunch of new songs but also nailed favorites like “Flood of 1889” and “Whiskey My Love.” They DID play “Beards” but not before Kalob told a funny story about not being able to play it anymore.
Also, the band was giving away a 2-song demo from the cd to be released June 1st at World Café Live in Philly. Get your tickets now. If KGB can draw 200 people at a club they’ve never played before, you know a cd release at WCL will sell out.