Lead singer Joey DeMarco has seen it time and time again.
He joked about it being known as “the look.”
“We come out on stage and people are have this look, like ‘what the fuck’ am I looking at?” DeMarco, generally dressed in makeup and oft-times in drag recalled. “But we start playing and those same people come up to us after the show and tell us how great it was. We are a theatrical, visceral experience, so it’s always nice to see they’re faces change midway through the show.”
Full disclosure: Sixteen Jackies is not for everyone.
DeMarco’s blood spitting, rolling around on stage theatrics isn’t the societal norm, even for punk standards, but for those open-minded, eye-opening experience types, listening to their sound is one that captivates. Perhaps a statement none truer than the lyrics on the band’s latest album, Mascula, released in May, chock full of stories for those that wrestle with the throes of sexuality and what it is to identify as – whatever you want really – in America.
Coming off a show at Pride this past weekend and in advance of their only Philly show this month on June 13 at Johnny Brenda’s, PW chatted with DeMarco on simply being different and how his style, sexuality, music and group all expertly align to form one of Philly’s best up-and-coming, so-called “glum rock” bands.
Talk to us about the evolution of Sixteen Jackies, where do you honestly feel the band is at this point?
Well at first it was just me showing up with all of these songs that I’d already had, ready to go. [But] as the band has progressed, we’ve gone from me showing with a bunch of songs to us getting together and writing music together. I still write all the lyrics, but it’s more [collaborative] and I think that’s made for better music.
How would you describe Sixteen Jackies?
[Laughs] I’ve just been going about saying we’re a glam rock band in the vein of like [David] Bowie and T.Rex. But we hit sounds all the time that don’t really fall into those genres, however I like to think of it as Talking Heads meets Sonic Youth meets Roy Orbison. Saying that we produce ‘glum rock’ has always been kind of an inside joke, but I’ll just say it’s very angsty glam rock.
Your look and demeanor on stage totally sets the tone here. How much of that is impromptu and how much of it is by design?
Oh, I’m totally going for a deranged vibe. I’m in full makeup, squirming around, the makeup is nothing different for me, I wear makeup out to the bar after a show pretty regularly. Honestly, this band was a massive part of me feeling comfortable to even do that. I pretty much only perform in drag now, I mean very rarely do I not, and that is just a fascinating thing to me. A lot of the lyrics play with gender-bending as well, so I think it all adds to it in a really good way.
How much of a game changer for Sixteen Jackies to play at the Pride Festival?
It’s everything. I feel like we don’t have that stronghold on a queer audience right now and I’ve really, really wanted that to happen. A lot of our music speaks to my own experience as a queer person and I feel that there’s so much of it that’s relatable. Sometimes I do worry how I perform and that the crazy guy in drag persona gets taken more as a punchline, like it’s all shock value but I would love for people to see us as different but also authentic and accept us as a voice for the queer community, in a way that we have not done yet. Acceptance in all forms is ultimately what everyone wants, right?
Sixteen Jackies | June 13, 8pm. Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 Frankford Ave. ticketfly.com/purchase/event
SUMMER CONCERT CALENDAR
A quick look at a few other upcoming live acts headed to Philly this summer.
Sam Smith – do you really need any more of sell than that? Promoting his second studio album, the English singer with the killer vocals is on his The Thrill of It All Tour. Even if you have to take the “Midnight Train” home, the night will sure be worth it with songs, like “Too Good at Goodbyes,” “Baby, You Make Me Crazy,” “One Last Song,” and “No Peace.” | July 4. 8pm. Prices vary. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. wellsfargocenterphilly.com/events/detail/sam-smith
Thought you missed Arcade Fire’s Everything Now Tour? Well “Wake Up,” because “Good God Damn” the band announced new dates with a continued tour. Groove out to the rock group’s retro stylings. | July 19. 6:30pm. $60.50. Festival Pier, 601 N. Christopher Columbus Blvd. ticketmaster.com/event/0200546DAAD08BCC?f_PPL=true&ab=efeat5787v1#efeat4212
What says summer more than Beach House – well not an actual beach house, but the band! Whisk off to the dream pop land of music. The duo is set to release their latest album “7” in May, but get a taste of the album with their already released single “Lemon Glow.” | July 26. 8:30pm. Prices vary. Tower Theater, S. 69th St. and Ludlow St., Upper Darby. venue.thetowerphilly.com//EventDetail?tmeventid=02005461B655B6D8&offerid=0
Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown
Can’t make it to New Orleans to celebrate its 300th anniversary? No worries! New Orleans is coming to you in the form of a street party lineup of jazzy beats. In celebration of the milestone, American musician, producer, actor and philanthropist Trombone Shorty curated Voodoo Threauxdown to bring the New Orleans pride on tour. Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue also headlines the show that includes Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and New Breed Brass Band, and special appearances by Cyril Neville and Walter Wolfman Washington. | Aug. 12 6pm. $48.50. River Stage at Great Plaza, Columbus Blvd. tromboneshorty.com/tour
Want a full dose of rock and roll? The Blasters will kick out the “American Music” jams. Formed in 1979, the band breaks the boundaries of blues, rockabilly, country, R&B and rock and roll into one slamming set. Flat Duo Jets and Full Blown Cherry will also take the stage. | Aug. 12. 7pm. $25.kungfunecktie.com/event/1613887-blasters-philadelphia/
Steve Martin and Martin Short
Two comedians and a banjo. Need more of a hint? It’s Steve Martin and Martin Short of course! The comic legends and real-life friends are touring with their variety show that will be filled with laughs and music. Joining the pair will be Grammy award-winning bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” keyboardist Jeff Babko. While the artists joke that it’s a forgettable evening, it is still a night you don't want to miss! | 8pm. Aug. 30. Mann Center for the Performing Arts, 5201 Parkside Ave. manncenter.org/events/2018-08-30/steve-martin-and-martin-short
Made in America Music Festival
When Labor Day Weekend rolls around, music fans’ ears perk up for Jay-Z’s annual music festival in Philly! Last year, the two-day fest had more than 50 acts with Jay-Z, J. Cole, and The Chainsmokers as the headliners. Details for 2018’s “Made in America” have not been released yet, but keep checking their website for updates! | Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 1-2. Prices vary. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway. madeinamericafest.com
You may know Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon or the disbanded indie rock group Red House Painters. Known for his chilling baritone vocals and poetic lyrics, the prolific lyricist is set to drop a self-titled album in May. Eager beavers can listen now to two of the album’s songs, “This Is My Town” and “My Love For You Is Undying,” on his website. | Sept 9. 9pm. $22. TLA, 334 South St. venue.tlaphilly.com/EventDetail?tmeventid=0200545B96A28071&offerid=78213
OK, metalheads, we got you covered. Break out the “War Horns,” because the big-name Brazilian heavy metal group is coming your way. Angra just dropped their latest album “ØMNI” this past February, and it puts the pedal to the metal – heavy metal that is. Headlining the show will be metal rocker Scarlet Aura. | Sept. 14. 9pm. $25. The Foundry, 29 E. Allen St. thefillmorephilly.com/EventDetail?tmeventid=0200545BAE31B93D&offerid=0
Jesse Collin Young
Lead singer of the acclaimed rock band “The Youngbloods” hits the Philly stage. With more than 15 solo albums under his belt, Jesse Collin Young has released chart-toppers, such as “Song for Juli,” “Light Shine,” and “Songbird.” | Oct. 5. 8pm. Prices vary. worldcafelive.com/event/1625053-jesse-colin-young-philadelphia
All about Maroon 5 and their latest album “Red Pills Blue”? Well, you’re in for a pop rockin’ good time, because the famed band is on tour with Julia Michaels, promoting their sixth studio album. Make sure to catch them live if you know what's “Best 4 U.” | Oct. 12. 8pm. Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St. wellsfargocenterphilly.com/events/detail/maroon-5