When you hear that Mischief Brew will perform in your town, you make sure you get your ass to that show, even if you were riding in the back of an ambulance that same morning. I spent the better part of that Saturday getting my mom to the hospital, who came down with some severe viral infection, and waiting around as doctors and nurses performed tests and ultrasounds. It didn’t stop me from seeing one of my favorite bands, and I decided I was taking up too much space in the emergency room. I knew I had to go and see Mischief Brew, just to simply get me out of those hospital blues.
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What I didn’t know was that the small handful of opening bands would be just as impressive as the folk punk headliner. Due to my chaotic race to Sunnyvale Brooklyn directly from the hospital, I unfortunately missed a majority of Out Of System Transfer’s set, but the last few songs I managed to catch were fun-loving and clever. One of the last being about riding trains and subways that don’t always cooperate. They performed on the floor rather than on the stage, which made for a more intimate setting, contrasting with the large size of Sunnyvale.
Next up were The Homewreckers, a queercore/pop-punk band from Brooklyn. I always get excited when I see girls get up on stage and absolutely shred, and I wasn’t disappointed with this band in the slightest. Their songs were super catchy and lead singer/guitarist Cristy C. Road was a natural frontwoman, making the crowd laugh in between songs with her blunt descriptions of what each song was about. Detailing feelings about feminist and queer issues, as well as their hatred for cops, each song was as enjoyable as the last. Their sound reminded me of bands like Lipstick Homicide, with the bite and grit of Green Day’s Insomniac thrown in. I would absolutely love to see them live again.
Crazy & The Brains was weird as hell, but I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I watched the band loading their gear to the stage and spotted a glockenspiel being set up. What I also didn’t know was that I would bare witness to not only an incredible set, but fans that were insanely passionate. The band’s name tells you a lot about their live performance, which was chaotic and contagious, but so solid. They managed to fit themselves on the tiny stage, and I believe I was nearly assaulted several times by their guitarist, whose instrument was inches from my face the majority of the time. They have a song called “King Kong” that had the crowd losing their minds, and for good reason. Crazy & The Brains know how to put on an unforgettable show.
And finally it was time for Mischief Brew to take on the crowd. Pressed firmly against the stage as the band was setting up, I took a moment to look at my surroundings. There was a huge mix of people all gathered to see the Philly outfit, and it made me realize how adored Mischief Brew really is. There were the oogles, the hardcore kids, the girls in high-heeled boots, and the kids that frankly didn’t fit into any group at all, but this mix spoke to how Mischief Brew has amassed a following that is so varied and unique. I took that moment to think about how cool it was that all of these vastly different people could relate to each other through the voice of just one band.
Charging right into the set head on, they started off with “Children Play With Matches” which had the crowd singing louder than Erik Petersen himself, and of course who can resist shouting, “fire!” as loudly as possible at all the right parts. One of the best moments of this set was during “Gimme Coffee, or Death.” A fan clambered onto the small stage and took over Petersen’s microphone to scream the lyric, “Get a boss! Take a bath!” before leaving as quickly as he arrived, jumping headfirst into the sea of people not far below, leaving Petersen laughing through the remainder of the verse.
They also played some classic fan pleasing songs, like “Roll Me Through The Gates of Hell” and “Nomads Revolt” which were so much fun to sing along to in a crowd of hundreds. Erik Petersen was a magician in street clothing, casting the stage into a carnival of melody with each song. “Olde Tyme Mem’ry” sent the hyped crowd into hysterics, climbing onto each other and holding each other closely like old friends. It’s one of the re-mastered tracks on Bacchanal ‘n’ Philadelphia, a collection of Mischief Brew’s older songs.
Petersen sat down with me later after the set and lamented that “Olde Tyme Mem’ry” was his favorite song to play that night. “It never gets old seeing people sing along to a song like that,” he said. “I think when it gets old, that’s when it’s time to stop.” When asked about Mischief Brew’s long time relationship with Brooklyn (the band recorded Smash The Windows, Fight Dirty with Guignol, and a 7″ split with Franz Nicolay just upstairs from Sunnyvale at Vibromonk), he mentioned that they played New York shows a lot more in the past. “We kind of pulled back from our New York City visits for a while,” he said. “We want more of it now.”
I asked him about some of the major differences between playing in his home city of Philadelphia, and playing in the Brooklyn borough, a question that made him think for a moment. “They’re similar,” he said. “Philly I think tends to maintain a tradition of neighborhoods more than New York City is able to do. There’s parts of New York that people don’t even recognize anymore. Different cities are kind of able to resist that.”
Since Bacchanal ‘n’ Philadelphia has been released with re-mastered tracks, I decided to ask Petersen how he reflected on those older songs, which are clearly loved by the fans at this show. “I guess there’s a bit of nostalgia there,” he said. “But mostly I think I sound young,” he said with a laugh.
Whether they’re playing packed rooms in Philadelphia or filling the larger venues like Sunnyvale in Brooklyn, Mischief Brew keeps serving up great sets with melody, bitterness, and old time fun. Regardless of this, one thing is for certain: Brooklyn loves Mischief Brew.
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