Hailing from the Los Angeles rock scene, Starcrawler lurch their way to the East Coast and back for their She Said album tour. With their retro fusion of primarily ’70’s inspired chunky mid-tempo garage rock with the occasional hint of psychedelia, the seemingly endless supply of non-pop genres they pull from create a fresh take on the pre-MTV dirty rock vibe. On November 8, the tour made a pit stop in Philadelphia for a night of fuzzy riffs from their five years of putting out tasty licks.
The night started with a walk down the dim steps of the literally underground independent Philadelphia venue, Underground Arts. It’s nestled in the middle of Callowhill, a former semi-industrial neighborhood directly adjacent to Center City. It is a club that is all about music and subculture, free from the commercial interests of large corporate rock stages. My photo pass consisted merely of a yellow wristband with “photo pass” written in marker. The main hall was a compilation of painted bricks, sections of vibrant abstract murals, black concrete support pillars, a side wall-length bar to the left, and a round fronted stage with no photo pit. It was beautiful!
Starting the night were Philly’s own always-awesome Vixen77 with an invigorating half-hour plus of high energy 77-style power punk. The five-piece is fronted by the spunky, currently, rainbow-haired Samantha backed by dual guitars and a driving rhythm section. They entertained the collection of misfits, punk kids, art nerds, middle-aged rockers, and photo geeks alike as the sole supporting act. Coincidently, I happen to fit every one of those categories. I was right at home.
As the mic’d pink combo amps began to hum, the headlining act filed onto the stage in a loose combination of frills, glittered jackets, pink accented shirts, frazzled mopped hairdos, and chunky heeled wingtips. Running to the front of the stage was the lanky daunting figure of Arrow DeWilde in her flare-legged, form-fitting, pseudo-tuxedo complete with pink arrows running up the legs and matching bowtie.
Wasting no time, Starcrawler busted into their first few songs dialed to 11 and full of flamboyance! Arrow thrust to and fro from mid-stage to the crowd, arms flailing, hips swiveling, jaw jutting, and lips sneering with Jagger moves and an Iggy Pop attitude. As the temperature rose, she removed her jacket with wrist cuffs still in place. Starcrawler kept on chugging relentlessly, churning out banger after banger, including an ode to their one-of-a-kind city with “I Love LA,” and a popular track, “Stranded,” off their newest album, about the closest thing to pop you’ll hear from them.
In addition to pulsating to the backbeat of their original songs, the crowd cheered as the band launched into their haunting cover of Ramones classic “Pet Cemetery” beginning with a Blue Oyster Cult-styled arpeggio guitar sequence. If you stayed for the credits for the 2019 film remake of the same name, you know the version!
When a disruptive older concertgoer started to have angry words aimed directly toward the band mid-set for reasons elusive to anyone present, Arrow requested he be dealt with. The otherwise cohesive Philly punk crowd stepped up and cut him off from the stage allowing the show to move forward without further disruption. For a solid hour and a half, the band cranked out their definitive brand of rock full of crowd interactions and onstage antics. Hair was flinging, mic chords swinging, and zombie eyes were rolling! This was a show I had been looking forward to since it was first announced, and it did not disappoint. It was frankly the best performance I’ve seen since my return to the clubs last year.