Bands come and bands go, and in a decade and a half of covering the Philadelphia music community, I’ve seen innumerable bands come and go. Many of whom were quite incredible. Many of whom should be heard by new generations of local artists and local listeners. And fans of good music in general. Our new feature, Don’t You Forget About Me, dives into the smoky venues and dusty record stores of Philadelphia past to unearth the music and memories of artists you need to rediscover.
Our story opens on a tiny stage maybe six inches off the ground, wedged in between a street-facing window and a deep red wall decked out with kinky artwork. Lagers are swigged, empties are discarded on the floor, pirogies are fried up in the back. And amid that musty conglomeration of stale cigarette smoke and dried-up beer and onions and whiskey – old timers, by now, probably know I’m talking about Tritone at 15th and South, not a faux-dive but a Dive in the truest punk rock sense – we see five polite twentysomethings with colorful instruments standing onstage.
Or seemingly polite, anyway. “We’re the goddamn motherfucking Snow Fairies,” barks bassist / songwriter Neal Ramirez before the band kicks into “Water and Beer,” a song from their 2005 sophomore LP Get Married, of which they’re onstage celebrating the release. It’s his first song for the SFs singing lead – a duty handled with class by Rose Bochansky up to this point…and for that matter, after this point too – and it’s a minute-and-a-half blast of amplified rockandfreakingroll.
Ramirez’ voice takes a stratospheric leap in pitch and fervency; he chucks his instrument against the wall and grips the mic in his hand. He screams about junk food and drinking Coca Cola till his nose bleeds. He steps off the stage and buts heads with the people in the front row. He knocks over a chair drops the mic on the floor and falls into the drums. Or maybe not. I was there but, you know, beer. Whiskey. Cigarettes.
This was just one moment in a catalog of understatedly memorable performances by The Snow Fairies, one of the funnest Philadelphia bands of the early aughts – and one that thankfully returns, albeit briefly, for a Space 1026 show this Friday, ahead of a NYC Popfest gig on Saturday. Continue reading →