Does Your Hometown Care?

Thrilladelphia's big shout-out to the 215.

By Mike McKee
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Apr. 19, 2006

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Philly me up: Promoter Jeff Anderson-standing in front of local band Walker Lundee-says this year's Thrilladelphia will be the biggest yet.

Growing up in Philly, I was always jealous of the magnet cities and their readily identifiable rock 'n' roll archetypes.

Seattle had heavy fuzzbox guitars and scraggy-haired flannel-flying ne'er-do-wells.

D.C. had that cerebral jangle and sensitive men in wool caps and gas station jackets.

In Olympia, Wash., you could bike to the park with a picnic basket and a portable turntable, and listen to Tiger Trap while making time with some bespectacled bookworm in a sundress and combat boots.

Even Chapel Hill, N.C., whose only discernible fashion statement seemed to be a comfortable T-shirt, still had its signature niche of guitar noise and melody (and for the record, thank you, Polvo, for perfecting it).

Meanwhile, what did Philly have to call its own? Sure, the Dead Milk-men, Schoolly D and "that guy who used to tour with Bad Brains" are enough to help you sleep at night, but they don't hold much water outside the Philadelphia/Delaware watershed.

When concert promoter Jeff Anderson first arrived here in 2001, he may have shared some of this anxiety. Frequenting local hot spots and playing in a rock band himself (Cordalene), the Temple transfer quickly learned there was no want for talent, but for support attention.

"There's a cool thing that goes with being the underdog," he says. "Everyone wants to root for you."

Cue the theme from Rocky.

Anderson didn't wind up staying here much past college, taking an internship at Matador Records and later a job at famed publicity company Girlie Action.

He did, however, maintain his love affair with Philadelphia, returning almost every weekend to visit friends and watch bands. "I'm still there every weekend, literally," he says.

For the third consecutive year, Anderson's Figurehead Productions promotion company will be hosting Thrilladelphia, a multivenue, multigenre series of concerts spotlighting Philadelphia bands and artists.

Of course in recent years things have changed a lot. Bands such as Need New Body, Pearls and Brass, Espers and Man Man are regular faves in the indie press. These days it's no surprise to hear a hometown band on The O.C. (check, Matt Pond) or on a car commercial. Despite these accolades, Anderson says we still need a good push to really put us on the map.

"Philly's a city that's getting a lot of attention in the last 10 years," he says. "There's this whole network of artists who are from here, and people are finally proud of saying, 'I'm from Philly.' We're proving we have the talent and shouldn't just be another stop along the way."

Most would agree. Talk to almost any promoter, radio DJ, fan or musician in soft-pretzel country and you're likely to get the same story.

"I have no sense of how many of these bands are perceived outside of this area, but I do get a sense that Philadelphia as a scene is getting more respect and recognition nationwide," offers local cheerleader and WPRB DJ Jon Solomon. "Something is happening, and it's building slowly and surely."

"Our music scene has more young people coming out to support more left-field artists than anywhere else in the country," boasts R5 Productions' Sean Agnew.

"I recognize we're awesome, but we've also been treated really great by many people in this town," says Yah Mos Def MC Ricky Coldhands. "It's a fun time to be in a band around here."

And perhaps most important, Siltbreeze Records is back in operation. 'Nuff said.

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