EARLY WORD: The Past Isn’t Dead, It Isn’t Even Past


When the smoke cleared after the hardcore punk wars of the ’80s — fought fiercely in the all-ages basements of West Philly and the early ’90s Jäger-fueled grunge matches at the Khyber —  for a brief and shining moment Caterpillar had its turn in the sun. Consisting of three natty indie types and a gray-haired dude, the band rocked quite righteously — not quite punk, not quite grunge, but born of both — in a way that can only be described as Delawarean. Standing in the center of a local rock moment is a fleeting thing, of course, and in time they went their separate ways, getting on with the business of being grown-ups. But for old time’s sake, they still get together once every year or so to aggravate the old tinnitus and bust a few bold rock moves. Come shake a Dr. Marten and raise a Sierra Nevada to better days. — JONATHAN VALANIA

SAT 7/12
10PM $7 21+
1508 South Street

The ever–spooky John Sterling delivers garage–rock with rare economy
and an absolutely deadpan vocal presence, even when he lets country
creep into his songs. That’s certainly true of “Brand Stinkin’ New,”
the first song on the newish album You Shall Not Be Missed with his
backing band the Essman. The Philly songwriter somehow summons both
Johnny Cash and Peter Murphy, his lyrics revealing memorable occasions
of wit amid so much stony grimness. The consistently bare–bones
arrangements make Sterling’s songs run together a bit, but the
relative absence of variation places more emphasis on his blank,
doom–saying croak, which stays with us long after the songs have
ended. (Doug Wallen)

CATERPILLAR (Philly 90s love rock. They’re back for good)!
First Philly’s exalted Siltbreeze label is resurrected, and now
there’s a Caterpillar reunion-it’s as though the crusty pre-Internet
mid-’90s never ended. Caterpillar were once our city’s premier indie
band, running with all the right producers (Geoff Turner, Casey Rice,
Adam Lasus, etc.) and showering us with earthy releases in an era when
7-inches still meant something. We got three albums out of them — 1994’s
Thousand Million Micronauts, ’96’s Macdorium Chlorium Chloe and ’99’s
posthumous Peace, Love & Popularity — before the guys went their
separate ways. (Doug Wallen, PW)

WITCHTRIALZ (Mems of Bunnydrums & Mose Giganticus)
David Finzimer, guitar (PYRAMIDS)
Jeremy Klotz, drums (SENSORY FIX)
Bradford Pomeroy, words
Witchtrialz had actually been conceptualized some time earlier by Brad
and Marc but was put on the backburner as Bunnydrums were more
active. Now, with that group on yet another “hiatus” Marc met Dave
online, rang-up Brad and…Jeremy! who Marc last played with opening
for The Stranglers (feline tour !?). by that time Vosco had already
joined Ruin. Even tho we come from from an aesthetic that offers more
than skinny pants, cheap irony, and telecasters, “POST-PUNK” is still
an apt default tag. After our first show, John Boyko (Helios Creed)
remarked we “were a Buzzcocks / Wire hybrid.” Very flattering, and not
entirely inaccurate, as the aforementioned, along with Killing Joke
and Mission of Burma, continue to inspire…

ALICE COHEN (Philly/NYC ex Vels)
Primitive, pretty and otherworldly are the words that come to mind
when listening to Alice Cohen’s first solo record, Sky Flowers.
Notions of the icily detached are part of the equation, too — the sad
remoteness of her lyrics, the floating melancholy of her music. Anyone
familiar with Cohen, or the “Alice Desoto” who led Philadelphia’s the
Vels through the New Wave ’80s, wouldn’t be surprised by that distance
and its flash of tenderness. The Vels were one of this city’s best
entries into post-punk/electro-pop with singles like “Look My Way” and
albums like Velocity to their credit. And when it was over, Cohen and
her partners Charles Hanson and the late Chris Larkin didn’t look back
in anger or silly reminiscence. Cohen, a Conshohocken native, packed
her bags before the ’80s ended, moved to Brooklyn, created several
radical art-rock ensembles (Shag Motor Pony, Die Monster Die,
Espadrille) and visual art, all the while laying the groundwork for
the prickly Sky Flowers. (AD Amorosi, Philadephia City Paper)

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