By Sophia Varoumas
Photo by Gregg Nixon
Ever go to a show stag?
A full on show, for hours, spending it with yourself-actually people watching, semi-socializing and anticipating the conversation you will have with the band you know you’re about to meet?
Waiting and watching-drinking, and then waiting some more.
It can be a hellish time if the event sucks-the bands blow and the crowd is uncomfortably awkward. To my surprise the spirit and momentum of the crowd became infectious at the CD release party for TJ Kong and The Atomic Bomb at Fishtown’s Johnny Brenda’s. This new Philly folk rock band either has a lot of loyal friends, or has well hidden drug-induced subliminal messages in their music to have such an effect on people’s minds to attract them to attend their live show in such numbers.
TJ Kong should really thank that well-brewed beer-induced hippie girl frolicking around with her pink scarf and short shorts (We all know who she was if you were in attendance May 5). She was the happiest girl in Philadelphia and everyone wanted to feel like she did. I swear, if every band paid a small group of girls to sing along to all of their tunes and dance their drunken little hearts out front and center at shows – wow… the music scene will get so much more entertaining in this town!
The festivities were eclectic to say the least. Throughout the night Needles Jones, a recognized cross-dressing MC in the Philadelphia club scene who raps about his elicit drug use, sexual exploits and angst that has lasted way past his middle age paraded around entertaining the crowd all night, or at least was an entertaining distraction to stare at. Grandchildren, Skeleton Breath and The Chimeras also played. Skeleton Breath, the opener was a completely instrumental band with the lead-a violin. With eerie sounds and creepy riffs, and the one super tall dude with the mad scientist hair sawing at his violin violently made for an excellent opener. Skeleton Breath was the highlight of the opening bands and should definitely get checked out.
Kong played a full one-hour set and came on second to last, which was perfect for TJ Kong to still party after they performed. Come to think of it, even though the band admits getting the final CDs printed minutes before getting to their CD release party, the night seemed like it went pretty smoothly (minus the fact that I spent the whole night playing cat and mouse- hunting the band down to do our OV interview).
TJ Kong and The Atomic Bomb have a pretty simple story: The lead singer, Dan Bruskewicz wanted to be in a band. He asked a fellow co-worker in the restaurant industry if he wanted to get involved with a little music project he was working on. Drummer Dan Martino had been in a punk band called War Time, for about four years prior, and was typically entertained by the crappy music people would pass along to him to critique. Dan thought what (singer) Dan was producing was pretty good and decided the project would be worthwhile.
They were a two-piece band for almost a year before posting a listing on Craigslist to find the missing link – Joshua Willis (whom, according to the band’s Facebook page is already leaving the band for unknown reasons).
Once the band formed they were on a simple music composition plan. Singer Dan would write the lyrics and then drummer Dan and Joshua would lay the music down to it. TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb write some pretty damn good songs and after a couple listens to their material, it’s very easy to appreciate. When throwing ideas around to name the band, the winning pick was derived from a reference to the movie Dr. Strangelove.
On a side note, when I met up with the band Josh had already managed to get punched in the face. He stumbled drunk out of the bar and the interview. But hey, somebody’s gotta be that guy.
The guys definitely had a successful night as it pertained to the CD release party and the doorman Dylan even said it was the busiest he’d ever seen the place the night of a show-unless of course he was just making small talk. Which I later confirmed he was.