If you lived it, you know it was something special. West Philadelphia’s famed Golden Tea House scene transcends rose-tinted nostalgia — or the punk rock equivalent of rose-tinted, perhaps OE800-soaked nostalgia? Dust-swept, sweat-sticky, hollering-hoarse, moldy bunny-rabbit mask and inexplicable sketch of Jet Set Sail’s Mike Larkey-cluttered, ebullient and energized nostalgia?
But it’s more than all of that. Even by DIY show standards, Golden Tea was something unique; stumbling your way through the front room and grabbing your spot along the exposed brick wall, or maybe beneath the KDU poster, or under the balcony that always seemed a bit perilous. (If you knew people, you’d grab a spot on the balcony proper. I did not know people, but that’s fine.) Early arrivers would circle the front, right in the artist’s faces; latecomers or people who stepped out back for a smoke would fill the periphery or watch through the wall cutout from the kitchen (I think it was the kitchen?) into the show space. The bands would get ready, you’d find a spot somewhere to stash your bags and jackets, and once the music started you’d find a way to make it work because no other gig was going to feel close to this real.
A recently unearthed VHS bootleg of Philly power trio HOUND performing at Golden Tea captures this experience immensely well. Discovered in the same stash of post-Golden Tea cleanout audiovideo ephemera that yielded the Bootleggers Banquet Release Live! At Golden Tea House, the footage comes from a January 3rd, 2015 “Headbangers Only!” gig with California X, Ovlov and Mannequin Pussy show that was $6 at the door.
A handwritten note tucked into the VHS tape indicates that the three-camera shoot was executed by Eddie Austin, Heather McGinniss and Shawn Gorman and the sound was recorded and mixed by BJ and Joe at Red Planet. It was clearly cold outdoors but hot in the room, as the front row are clutching coats and hoodies alike, jamming to the show in their best winter t-shirts. Along the wall, you can spot Sam Cook-Parrott of Radiator Hospital and Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee rocking the eff out.
Watch the 7-song, 22 minute set below, or listen via Bandcamp, and grab a vinyl edition while they last from the Bootlegger’s Banquet peeps (distro by SRA Records) here. HOUND’s Perry Shall tells us that the band is heading into the studio this winter to record its third LP, a sequel to 2014’s Out of Space and 2015’s Out of Time, and we’re pumped, but in the meantime, you can catch the band live when it plays Johnny Brenda’s with Anvil (yes, that Anvil) on Saturday, March 4th. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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