Philadelphia Grand Jury

w/ Kid Sam + Cityscape Riot

Bearded men are dedicated men, and having dabbled with various incarnations of my own chin-and-cheek-wear these last few years, I think I'm in a reasonable position to make that judgement. That said, none of my hirsute offerings have ever reached their full potential. Always concerned with maintaining a ‘professional' visage in the workplace or weakened by the disapproving utterances of women too blinkered by convention to realise the full beard is a tell-tale sign of a committed man (not the slovenly slacker they tend to expect), I have regularly sold myself short in reaching for the Schick. But not MC Bad Genius. And not Berkfnger. Not the Philadelphia Grand Jury. Two men and two beards, all in absolutely great form at the Republic on Saturday night, powering through a warm, fast and fuzzy set and proving that Halloween doesn't always have to mean a shit night at a half-arsed costume party.


The evening started with local electro lads, Cityscape Riot thumping their way through a short set. The pub filled steadily as they did so and, by-and-large, folks were drawn away from the bar, wanting a closer look at the burgeoning duo from behind the safety of their pint glass.


Kid Sam was up next, but I'm afraid these offerings left me a bit cold. The tunes were a little off-kilter and maybe not as up-tempo and vibey as I'd hoped for, particularly following Cityscape's intro and with the prospect of an amped-up Philly Jays getting closer and closer.


At just a tick after midnight, Berkfinger and Bad Genius took the stage and the party finally kicked off. The little and large combo (in both stature and beardiness) whipped up a wave of enthusiastic grooving within moments. Slightly cheesy pre-recorded breaks between songs were an odd-spot and the same could probably be said for their replacement drummer, Emergency Ivan.


Conspicuously clean-shaven, Ivan was sporting a fetching Kenny Rogers t-shirt and that made him bearded in a vicarious manner, which was enough for me on the night. His drumming was tight, not once betraying the little matter of it only being his second gig with the Philly Jays. The real stars were out front, though, cranking through their set with high-energy and with much love from their Hobart fans.


Despite a short break early in the set – seemingly to rectify a technical hitch that saw Berkfinger getting a little electric shock every time he made contact with his microphone – the rest of the show was stonking. All three played with energy, Bad Genius and Emergency Ivan battling it out for the title of most intense on the night. For mine, it was Bad Genius on a close points decision. But don't tell Ivan. I'm still a little bit scared of him.


After ten or so songs the trio tapped out and called it a night. No encore was a pity, but the fare served up from the Hope is for Hopers album was spot-on. Highlights were the recent sing-along singles Good News and Going to the Casino (Tomorrow Night), along with I'm Going to Kill You and The New Neil Young. All the tunes were short and punchy, combining a punky edge with undeniable pop sensibilities – and making for a really fun little gig. I'm not sure when they'll be back, but I'm considering not shaving ‘til they are. I want to be suitably attired next time. Anyone with me?

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