Last week, boisterous Allentown / Philly punk band Pissed Jeans performed a free 21+ show at Morgan’s Pier along with Big Mouth and Ultramantis Black. The show began with five guys all dressed in black and playing black instruments on stage creating a wall of noise and feedback. This was Ultramantis Black, a hardcore band fronted by the professional wrestler of the same name. As the feedback and buildup continued I examined the men on stage and tried to determine which one of them was the pro wrestler. I figured it probably wasn’t the skinny guy with the beard or the average-sized man sitting at the drums. “Maybe it’s the tall dude playing guitar, he’s pretty big” I thought to myself. It never occurred to me that Ultramantis himself wasn’t even on stage yet until he came charging out in full wrestling garb, complete with cape, mask and skull staff. This was when I started to get a little worried. I didn’t find the spooky clown getup endearing and the all-black uniform donned by the other members made me feel like these guys are a little too concerned with trying to look badass.
After the first song Ultramantis began pacing back and forth across the stage, shouting the usual “HELLO PHILADELPHIA” type stuff, but it wasn’t long before he went off on a long diatribe about the choices people make when they sit down to dinner. I was confused until he went on to give us a rather poorly thought-out lecture on the morality of consuming meat. He went on to rant about America’s dependency on pharmaceuticals and how they are destroying our bodies. It took about five minutes of this before they even started the second song, which was immediately followed by another long-winded lecture, this time on the evils of fracking. Obviously the guy was talking about some important issues, but they only had a 20 minute set and at this point it was half over and they’d only played two songs. It isn’t wrong to be opinionated and passionate about these issues but there’s a time and place for activism and I personally wasn’t interested in being lectured on my night out. They finished up their set and before the last song was even done Ultramantis had disappeared from the stage. The band finished out the set and with the help of some of the staff started disassembling their gear. At this time Ultramantis reappeared from backstage drinking a beer with his wrestling mask still on. This ridiculous guy didn’t even help his band-mates load out their gear. It doesn’t matter if your instrument is just your voice and a microphone, helping your buddies load out is just the decent thing to do. To be fair, though the music wasn’t ground-breaking by any means, they did play spot-on and had a lot of energy on stage, but my experience was soured by one of the most obnoxious front men I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing perform.
The next band was Big Mouth, hailing from the DC/Baltimore area. They performed an angsty brand of punk characterized by creative atonal interplay between the bass and guitar, backed by fairly straightforward, but effective drumming. Their front-woman taunted the crowd and sang in a voice that reminded me of a homeless lady I saw last week at 69th st. terminal last week who screamed at me and called me a cocksucker. She even teased the bouncer by the stage and stroked his beard. I was extremely impressed by the guitarist’s ability to stomp around on stage and headband in heels and a floor-length dress. The singer weaved her way through the audience throughout the set and certainly captivated people through fear that they would be the next victim of her manic outbursts. This was definitely the most unique performance of the night and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
When Pissed Jeans took to the stage and began playing the energy at the pier came to a head and things became chaotic. This was a true rock and roll performance. Their front-man, Matt Korvette, has amazing stage presence and is a master at working the crowd. He’s also a genuinely hilarious dude. Matt ran back and forth across the stage as a sea of people moshing and stage diving churned before him. He shouted, threw ice at his bandmates, chugged Miller Lite, did some pull-ups from the scaffolding and posed for the photographers next to the stage. Pissed Jeans puts on one of the most high-energy shows in Philly and I’d recommend attending their next show to anyone looking to witness true madness and hear some great punk music.