copyedits: Zero Lives
The wailing howl of a ’62 Fender Jaguar sent a shiver down my spine as I climbed the steps of The Barbary. It was as if the Rock Gods themselves were trying to claw their way through the speakers with an unbridled fury and chaos. In front of me stood the long-haired sons and daughters of rock. Their heads bobbed in unison as the floor quaked with a feverish passion I hadn’t seen in years.
The spirits of Joe Strummer, Dave Blood, Ian Curtis, and John Peel infused their bodies and minds, penetrating even the thickest layers of leather, denim and patches. A petite girl marched over to me and shoved a shot of whiskey in each hand. “Drink up and dance….NOW,” she demanded. I took a step back and stared at the dance floor as I slung back the shots. I was the man in the back, and as a matter of fact, it was time to join the ballroom blitz.
Punk rock vibrations let loose my own desires, as I pushed through the crowd with the girl in tow. I lifted her on top of the table, then climbed up next to her as we began shouting the lyrics to a David Bowie song at each other. Love came in spurts as men and women alike jumped between dance partners like some sort of warped Rock and Roll line dancing. They were a crowd of rebels taking the American ruse out of its neat little package and throwing it across the room, splattering it on the walls, and trampling it underfoot.
From my elevated position I could observe the entire crowd as it pulsed with people leaning on one another like some perfect dysfunctional family screaming lyrics, laughing, and smiling. In the corner I noticed Zero dancing with a brunette. The chaos that sits right behind his eyes had been drawn forward as they gazed deeply into one another, shouting “THAT’S WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU!” It wasn’t just a passion for the person in front of him; it was a love of the music.
This was my world, and my blank generation, crammed onto the dance floor tonight. Without a word being said I could see that each syllable of lyric echoed in everyone’s heads and infused with their consciousness. It all came from an era where the lines of punk, rock, and glam were blurred. An outsider might only hear a common theme of sex and violence, but to the losers, liars, bastards, and thieves it sang of heartbreak, love, pain, and joy. It was for anyone ever stuck in a rut, and it reminded you that you’re not alone in this world by bringing all these people together under a banner that proclaimed we’d stand up to anything and never say “enough”.
Our long-haired hero, DJ EGB III, spun everything you could ever hope to hear from. With one hand, he delicately thumbed through several vinyl albums while simultaneously preparing the record player for the next track with the other. Singles and Top 40 hits ran their fingers through our hair, as the occasional B Side nibbled on our ears, before jamming it’s tongue down our throats. Our legs trembled with anticipation as each song faded out and when the needle hit the groove, the groove hit the room as we moshed thirty-three and a half rotations per minute.
The night was a sea of hands swaying back and forth while old friends, acquaintances, and lovers held each other, singing along with closed eyes. Sweat beaded down our faces as the ringing in our heads began. No one was going home alone tonight as long as they carried that high-pitched squeal that would lull them to sleep, reminding them that tonight will be one to remember.
The bottom line:
True to the fervor of the golden punk rock god known as vinyl, Edward B. Gieda III puts on a masterful show. Guitar Army is one of the BEST events in Philadelphia and is one Friday every month. Nowhere else will you find such a loyal and charged crowd, let alone an all-vinyl set list that is so masterfully crafted for the music lover in all of us. Whether you enjoy Punk, Glam, Garage, Rock, or even Ska you need to make this show a part of your regular nightlife visits. The sheer rip-roaring energy that fills the room is unlike anything you’ve seen. Never before have I been so possessed by the atmosphere of a show to throw off my shackles of professionalism. To everyone involved: Be proud of what you have created, and don’t stop ever.
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Special thanks to Kristin Guessford of Did I Shutter, The Guitar Army staple photographer, for letting us use her work!!
951 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125