Some people believe human life began with a two-piece (see Adam and Eve), and throughout television history, proof that humans work best in twos has been consistently provided (see Marge and Homer Simpson, Cliff and Claire Huxtable, Tara Maclay and Willow Rosenberg). This phenomenon’s also been expressed in music, as some of the best tunes to ever come from duos (see John Coltrane and Rashied Ali, Outkast, Lightning Bolt). And you already know that oft quoted chorus by hip-hop duo Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock.
Philadelphia’s Two-Piece Fest (TPF) has been carrying on this rich human tradition for the past four years. The idea? Cram as many two-piece bands as possible into one room and let ’em rip. TPF founder Craig Woods, 30, got the idea in 2005 when the drummer in his three-piece band stopped coming to practices; they booted the lazy bastard and rolled as a duo. “I thought it’d be cool to see what other two-pieces were out there,” says Woods, who plays this year with his band Peter & Craig. “Apparently there’s a shit ton. The first year was hard because we didn’t know many two-piece bands; it was tough finding even 20. But by the second year it was crazy. We turned down like 40 bands that wanted to play, and it keeps growing every year.”
TPF was going strong, but tragedy struck last year when the fucking cops shut down the Fishtown DIY space the Ox about three-quarters of the way through the show. “We put a whole lot of heart and effort into it,” remembers Woods. “And it was really sad to see the bands who didn’t get to play load their equipment out.”
Bruised but not defeated, the fifth edition of TPF happens all day Saturday and Sunday at the Rotunda, as 40 bands each play 15-minute sets across three stages. Most bands are from Philadelphia, including skronk-jazz outfit Lagomasino/Fishkin, grindcore maniacs +HIRS+, lady-punks Trophy Wife and rock-lords Heavy Medical. And, yes, many are on the heavy side, like Ken South Rock, a Brooklyn drummer/Japanese guitarist duo. “It’s chaos,” Woods says of the band. “Super-fast and crazy, but catchy, artsy punk-rock.” But he promises there will be some mellower bands, like anthemic indie-rockers Double Rainbow and the folky Prime Homeless Time.
Perhaps you’ve noticed, but these bands aren’t household names. That’s the point. “People don’t know most of them,” says Woods. “But everyone gets really excited about seeing so much new music in one place. People don’t normally go to shows unless they know the bands, but TPF is all about experiencing something new.”
Woods isn’t necessarily opposed to including bigger names on future bills, though. Showing his Philly pride, he says his favorite music duos are DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince and Hall & Oates. “We’d definitely like to have them play one year,” he says.
Sat., Feb. 25, 2pm-11pm and Sun, Feb. 26, 1pm-10pm. $8 each day. The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut St. twopiecefest.com