CLEAN AND MEAN

Meet Philly's most hated band.

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Aug. 8, 2007

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Aday after Richmond's freak show, Clockcleaner travel an hour to Charlottesville, Va., and arrive early on a pleasant but hot day.

The show's promoter introduces himself and says he's excited about the show. It's a Monday, school has let out for the summer, and he's still somehow managed to presell some 75 tickets.

"I think we're going to have more than 100 people here tonight, and that's just really great this time of year," he says cheerfully.

Clockcleaner are the openers. Tonight's headliner Deerhunter have recently been fitted for indie rock royalty by the kingmakers at Pitchfork, and despite Sharkey's insistence upon calling them "Queerhunter," they get along swimmingly.

"They have a sense of humor," Horner says. "That's a rare quality in music these days."

After some time passes, the show starts and, considering the previous night's mind-melter, it's relatively innocuous. Clockcleaner cover the Breeders' "Divine Hammer" to close their set, and as it concludes, Sharkey takes off his guitar and picks up an aluminum bat, which he keeps against his amp.

There's a garbage can hugging the side of the stage. Sharkey grabs it, empties it onstage and starts sifting its contents for plastic bottles, coffee cups or anything else that can be safely batted into the audience to a soundtrack of his guitar's feedback.

The show ends, and the promoter who'd been so friendly earlier in the night is now visibly perturbed. He calls on staff to sweep up the stage, and picks up bottles batted throughout the ballroom with an exaggerated motion and an audible moan.

Deerhunter play, gear is loaded out, hours pass, Clockcleaner collect payment.

The promoter, over it now and still beaming about the turnout, thanks Clockcleaner for their time and asks them to please consider coming back to sleepy ol' Charlottesville. "But you've gotta leave the bat in Philly," he says.

Pulling out onto a Virginia highway on the way back to town at well after 2 in the morning, Sharkey is asked if he ever stops to think what it might be like to play a show free of drama. Could he possibly daydream about pulling into a town like this, greeting a promoter, playing a show and getting paid without some sort of commotion?

"A couple of those kids in there came up to us after the show and thanked me for not mailing it in tonight," he says. "But I see your point."

He takes a long drag on a cigarette, and contemplates the prospect a second more.

"Nah, fuck 'em," he says, before driving off into the night.

Brian McManus (bmcmanus@philadelphia weekly.com) is PW's music editor.

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