I wrote my writer friend in Iowa last weekend about a band he turned me on to who are originally from Jersey and now living in South Philly and who rocked Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar on Saturday night.
Also worth mentioning is how lead singer Adam Weiner opened the show: “Hey!…We’re in South Philly…it’s snowing out….let’s make some babies!”
I had missed the Connies at the North Star Bar, up near the Art Museum, a bunch of times within the past year or so, but no way was I missing them somewhere called Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar, located a few blocks from Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks (the latter notorious for this) in the heart of South Philadelphia, somewhere whose menu offers bacon-infused vodka and whose website features “Lou’s Joke of the Week” (see http://thehappybirthdaybar.com/On_Line_Store.html).
I wasn’t aware that it was also one of the few bars that somehow managed an exemption to the smoking ban that took effect in 2008, meaning it was somewhere that, if someone had brought a toddler to the concert last night, the toddler would have been chain-smoking. Despite two showers, two Advils, and a single Kenziger draft last night vs. plenty of waters, I still have a major headache.
(For some worthwhile reviews, check out http://www.yelp.com/biz/rays-happy-birthday-bar-philadelphia-2, including:
The bartender is a rude old douche, made me wait while I was standing there with money in my hand while he cleaned every glass in the building, then acted like he did me a favor for opening beer. You’re not cool because you can smoke while working.
as opposed to
Do you want to be served Pabst Blue Ribbon by a forty five year old wearing stonewashed elastic-waist jeans and a maroon turtleneck while inhaling toxic amounts of cigarette smoke and rubbing shoulders with the finest karaoke singers South Philly has to offer?
I do, and thats why I keep showing up already drunk.
For more on the Connies-Ray’s connection, check out this recent Inquirer article.)
Brilliant South Philadelphia (or as we locals say, SowFluffya) crowd, given the above. The Connies are local boys now so plenty of relatives, neighbors, etc. were among us last night, as was Lou of “Lou’s Joke of the Week” fame, the owner, who turns 74 this year and joined the band on a pretty wicked sax for two songs, including “Shit Shower & Shave” (prior to which Adam warned him that the men’s room was out of toilet paper).
We also sat next to a Danny Aiello doppelganger who gave us an “Ayyy, Jersey!!!” fist bump during “Scoliosis in Secaucus” as well as his female companion, who told me I look like Quentin Tarantino, which is amusing because: a. one of my recurring hipster jokes is that all hipster males between the ages of 29-35 look like either Quentin Tarantino or Moby and b. I don’t look like Quentin Tarantino.
The band is terrific live, of course. You can get a rough idea from the “Boozophilia” video on their website (which I think was filmed at the North Star for the concert scenes, though the bar scenes were shot at Ray’s), and just extrapolate from that watching Adam walk through the crowd, jump on the bar, and almost behead himself on the ceiling fan blades while covering Barrett Strong’s “Money” and that was basically the concert.
Well, half of it, anyway. We took off after the first set (around 10:15-ish) as the snow was coming down (we could watch it on the otherwise useless surveillance cameras), we had been breathing smoke for about two hours at that point and I had been awake since roughly 5:30 a.m. But we’ll be back.
Also worth watching:
“Rio” live at Ray’s
“Boozophilia” live at Ray’s (before my camera ran out of memory)
Photos (c) 2013 Jeff Metzner Photography, with permission.