The city of Philadelphia is quickly gaining recognition for its booming and creative punk scene. What is often an ignored city, Philly’s punk roots go back decades and the scene continues to grow deep under the shadows and in the underground. Take This Bird And Shove It Festival is one of the many explosive punk music festivals that calls Philadelphia home, and it’s now in its second year. I got the chance to talk to the festival’s founders and organizers, Jesse Tucci and Chris Caton. Through their eyes, we get a peak into what’s going on behind the scenes of one of the city’s most beloved weekend long shows.
Keep reading after the cut.
Q: What is one of the biggest challenges that comes with putting together a festival of this size?
A (Chris Caton): My biggest challenge tends to be the logistical concerns of arranging flights, sorting out hotels and in general dealing with that many bands in a short period of time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very rewarding, but it’s a challenge to juggle all the demands that come along with an event of this size.
(Jesse Tucci) When we got together, I was (booking) more of the punk shows. Chris had a handle on all the oi bands. So when we ended up getting together to do it, it just really worked out well. So we just work well together. It’s definitely a partnership, Chris does a lot of the heavy lifting.
Q: What inspired the whole festival? To bring it to Philly and to have it be almost as much of a staple as This Is Hardcore?
A (Caton): Joe[Hardcore] does a great job with This Is Hardcore. It’s one of the best fests in the country. For punk and oi we see other fests across the country, we see it overseas, but there wasn’t anything on the east coast. We figured this was the perfect time to kind of grab the bull by the horns here, take the lead and do something new.
(Tucci) And it’s been really successful and people have been really excited about it. And I felt like once we did our first one last year which was successful, this year it’s been a lot easier to sort of book everything and get it all together. Now we have more of a plan in place. The scene here is just… I feel like Philly, a lot of the time for whatever reason, gets looked over. I would say we really have one of the best scenes in the country period. With the people that are here and just the amount of energy. The dedication to it, it surpasses a lot of the other places I’ve been to.
(Caton) Just building on what he said, band for band, Philly is better than any city on the east coast. Booking shows, and this fest in particular is just about bringing bands here and showing them what the city is about.
Q: Do you guys have a favorite memory of last year’s fest? Or working with a certain band that you really enjoyed?
A (Tucci): Mine was probably the third night just with the amount of bands that we had and the excitement level that was still there. Like sometimes you go to fests and by the third night people are tired or whatever. But it was just 100% the whole time. And the first time was more like a learning experience so it was probably the most memorable experience.
(Caton) For me, I’d have to say working with Defiance and The Unseen. You know, growing up listening to those bands in high school and then coming full circle and working with them closely was a really rewarding experience.
Q: How can you explain that kind of feeling? Of getting to work with some of your favorite bands? Does it ever get old? How would you describe that?
A (Caton): You get to form these friendships with people that again, you grew up idolizing them and it’s really something special to get to meet those guys in person. I wouldn’t say it gets old. It’s always nice to find out that bands you looked up to when you were younger are just as down to earth now as they were when they first started out.
(Tucci) Yeah really. Just the influence they had on us in general. And that goes back twenty years of being influenced, so it’s pretty important.
Q: That’s awesome. Do you have anything you’d like to add as far as what band you’re most looking forward to seeing? You don’t have to play favorites.
A (Tucci): We have a couple of international bands that are coming this year that we’re really excited about, so I think that’s gonna be the highlight of it this time around. And also, not to short change the bands from the US, too. There’s some amazing punk and oi bands that I feel like we’re doing our part to get their name out and help them get more recognition here.
(Caton) I’m really excited about working with the bands that compromised the past present and future of punk rock and oi. There’s not one band I’m more excited to see than the other. I’m equally as excited about all of them.
Q: What would be your best advice to other people who are trying to put together festivals, regardless of genre.
A (Caton) Have a good crew by your side and have a lot of people who know what they’re doing and can help you out.
(Tucci) And understand that you need to have a good amount of patience in order to get things done. And we have a great crew, pretty much the same people we had last year. I think there’s about five of us altogether that do it and everybody is sort of in it for those three days. They’re long days, they’re hard days on us to do it. But it’s all worth it in the end.
Q: What’s crunch time like for you guys? Like the day before the festival, how do you prepare to put something together like that?
A (Caton): You go over your final itineraries and make sure all the plans you have in place are ready to go. You go over your checklist and make sure everything’s in order and just be in constant communication with everyone else on the team.
(Tucci) Yeah that’s usually the best way to do it and we had success. We did it that way last year and on those days we kind of divvy up the responsibilities. So one person is in charge of this, another person is in charge of this. And it makes it all run smoother. We have the whole itinerary of the day given to everybody. Crew, bands, the club has its sound so it makes it easier to do it that way. You just need to have a lot of patience with the booking part of it because there’s a lot of work in that, a lot of logistics. It’s a lot of work, but it definitely pays off. Just the fact that we can do it.
Take This Bird And Shove It Festival takes place this November 25th and 26th at the Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia. Tickets are still available here, but they’re going fast. For more information, check out the Facebook event here.