Last night, in a COMPLETE stroke of luck, I managed to score tickets to a sold out show two hours before it began in Philly’s Union Transfer. Thank god I did, because I’d be kicking myself for missing such an incredible lineup: Cock Sparrer, Street Dogs, Paint it Black, and Sydney Ducks.
Even though the show was sold out, when San Francisco openers Sydney Ducks took the stage the huge venue was pretty empty still. No matter, gives me plenty of room up front. I never heard of these guys beforehand, but just taking one look at them I thought I knew what to expect.
Coming out in mostly collared shirts, these guys just screamed oi band to me. But instead of the normal repetitiveness that I often find with oi, they had many other influences going for them (as was apparent with the lead singer’s Out Of Step Minor Threat tattoo). They threw in some mid-tempo hardcore in between the oi sing-alongs, and I have to say I was digging them.
I don’t know any of their catalog so I’m not really sure what songs they played (besides Stray Dogs), but I can tell you by the time the set ended the room was packed with people who were drawn in to the tight sounds of Sydney Ducks.
Paint it Black
Anyone who reads this site regularly knows that I fucking love Philly’s own Paint it Black, but unfortunately, seeing them play a show lately is sort of a rare occurrence (let’s put it like this: I’ve seen both Kid Dynamite AND Lifetime since the last time I saw PIB… trust me, that’s not a complaint, but gives you an idea of how inactive PIB has been lately). I was stoked to be seeing them again, even if there was a barricade in between the stage and the crowd (so fucking weird at a Paint it Black show).
The band took the stage to the sound of what I believe was Ghostface Killah, and immediately launched into “The Ledge”. Dan did the best he could with the barricade, jumping in between the space and staying there the majority of set, and us small but incredibly dedicated group of fans immediately started with the pile-ons, barricades be damned. They ripped through songs from all of their albums with very little stage banter in between. Guitarist Andy seemed the most bummed about the barricade, claiming that while expensive shows with barricades are great and all, it’s not where their heart is, and they much rather prefer a good basement or house show (Terrordome anyone?)
Still, barricade or not, it’s always great to them, and I’m glad they didn’t cancel their set. I talked to Dan a bit after the show, and apparently Jared got into a bike accident and they almost canceled. Get well soon Jared.
Setlist (From What I Remember And Not In Order)
White Kids Dying Of Hunger
Past Tense, Future Perfect
Atheists In Fox Holes (I Think)
Cipher (I think)
I wound up talking to a lot of people in the crowd, and it seemed like a lot of them were there for the sole purpose of seeing the Street Dogs. Street Dogs are one of those bands that I don’t listen to regularly, but every time I’ve seen them, they put on a fucking fantastic show. Fronted by original Dropkick Murphy’s singer Mike, it looks like they’ve put out a decent amount of albums since I’ve last listened to them (ok, last one I really knew was their debut Savin Hill… I admit I’m a little behind).
These guys took the stage, and it’s impossible to not sing along. Even if you don’t know all the words, you’ll find yourself chanting along to the blue collared tunes. Singer Mike took some ribs at the 76ers for a while and generally had some good natured jokes with the crowd. The highlight for me was when the crowd started chanting “LET’S GO MURPHY’S! LET’S GO MURPHY’S!” which the band responded by playing 3 songs off Do or Die, including Do or Die, Get Up, and Never Alone. Fuck yes.
Finally the main reason the majority of people were here in the first place: to see the legendary Cock Sparrer. These guys have been at it since 1972 and have kept for the most part a pretty nuclear lineup over the years (at one point when the singer was introducing the member’s, he said “and he’s the baby of the band, he’s only been playing with us for the past 20 years”). Cock Sparrer may be old, but holy shit they fucking tear it up better than bands a quarter of their age.
They opened up with “Riot Squad” and the crowd went apeshit with a sporadic frenzy of a pit. Unfortunately there wasn’t that much room for a full blown circle pit, but we did the best that we could. Cock Sparrer didn’t let up for the rest of the night playing the majority of fan favorite Shock Troops and throwing in a few from the rest of their releases, from their debut Self Titled to their latest Here We Stand. The band apologized for it taking them 40 fucking years to get to Philadelphia, and they kept taking digs at each other about their age (“It’s way past his bedtime!”).
If Cock Sparrer comes around your area, do yourself a favor and go see them. They were one of the most influential punk bands around even if they never got the same amount of fame as bands like The Clash or The Buzzcocks, and they STILL, 40 years later… put on a hell of a show.
Setlist From What I Remember (Not In Order):
Watch Your Back
Where Are They Now
Because You’re Young
Think Again (I think)
Chip On My Shoulder
Get A Rope
I Got Your Number
What’s It Like To Be Old
England Belongs To Me
Take Em All
We’re Coming Back