As published in The Wire, The West Australian on 26/11/09. The Philly Jays looked like they were preparing to run a marathon before their show at Amplifier on Saturday night.
While the crowd looked on, MC Bad Genius and touring drummer Calvin Welch contorted their bodies into a series of sports stretches while frontman Berkfinger paced back and forth across the stage.
Such openly un-cool band behaviour served as an early example of how the Sydney outfit are attempting to turn the traditional live show on its head.
Continuing that theme was Berkfinger’s greeting, spoken like a horse racing commentator with an impossibly high voice, pre-recorded and played over the sound system.
He opened the show with a mellow number before setting the tone of the night with briskly picked hooks in I’m Going To Kill You.
Ready To Roll saw Berkfinger bent up to the mic and nodding like a dashboard dog, howling the chorus “I’m not the like some other brothers, but I’m ready to roll”.
Despite his intensely serious expression, MC Bad Genius looks to be partying on the inside, with his shuffling sneakers appearing possessed by each jerky riff.
The New Neil Young channelled Weezer with slightly heavier riffs under the chorus “these are such ordinary times, we live such ordinary lives”, before sentimental track Wet Winter Holiday was amplified by a crowd sing-along.
Going To The Casino was a deserving crowd favourite and saw the energy on stage peaking, with Berkfinger jittering while singing “c-c-c-c-c-casino, t-t-t-t-tomorrow night”.
A skilful addition to the band, 54 year-old Michigan ex-pat and former bebop drummer Welch is clearly thriving in his new environment. He plays with the unusual style of raising his sticks and pausing temporarily, like a cat waiting to pounce, before slamming them down.
After a rocking performance of the infectious new single The Good News with MC Bad Genius on the piano organ, I Don’t Want To Party (Party) formed the basis of a chaotic end to the show.
Piece-by-piece, the band disassembled the drum kit to relocate it in the crowd, while Welch made do with what he still had before playing his last skin across the stage and into a circle of delighted punters.
“Someone hold onto the kick-drum,” Berkfinger instructed before playing one last song, leaning into the crowd while Welch performed to an audience of his own.
They were joined on stage by the equally manic frontman of the Novocaines, Corey Marriott, who earlier led his own band in a high-energy set of traditional rock.
With a final melt-down which put the standard encore to shame, Philadelphia Grand Jury left the stage and promised to share a beer before their flight home.