Not that maintaining an independent music venue has ever been an easy feat, but the past few years have been particularly challenging. We have been championing these local culture hotspots with our “Hometown of Consequences” in an effort to highlight the importance of their continued presence. The scene is certainly in a state of flux, which is why artists like The Dead Milkmen talk about their favorite hometown spots, like the Philadelphia Gallery on Watts.
Rodney Anonymous, lead vocalist and keyboardist for the legendary satirical punk band, has witnessed difficult changes firsthand in his hometown. “Philly has lost most of its good places during the pandemic,” he says. a result. “The remaining venues are either wholly or partly owned by Live Nation and those venues are frankly blown away.”
The exception, for Anonymous, is the Warehouse on Watts, aka WOW which opened in 2016, and the club describes itself as a popular event space and “Philly’s hottest independent venue.” Located on the North Broad Street Corridor, the venue is divided into two floors: Cambridge Hall bar downstairs and The Loft nightclub upstairs. The loft hosts a variety of monthly parties catering to fans of hip-hop, dance music, techno, reggaeton, disco, and industrial-gothic club music, making WOW an open space for all kinds of subcultures.
But the warehouse caters to a broader base, too. James Murphy, CupcakKe, John Talabot, Unwritten Law, Knuckle Puck, Local H, Ruby the Hatchet, Mickey Avalon and Bent Knee have all performed over the years. This kind of selective booking is what gives WOW its wow factor.
Read on to find out why Rodney Anonymous from The Dead Milkmen is such a huge fan of the warehouse on Watts despite its relative newness to the area. (We advise you to keep in mind that Anonymous is a man of humor and The Dead Milkmen are sarcastic on purpose – that doesn’t mean Anonymous’ points are invalid!) You can also vote for you in the Hometowns of Consequence or via the tool below, and see what places artists like Josh Homme, UPSAHL, Deer Tick, McKinley Dixon and OSEES are their favorite names.
What’s your favorite local venue under 2,000 capacity and why?
The Warehouse on Watts wins this by default. I’ve only seen a couple shows there (I saw IAMX there last Saturday night with Mike Saga DJing!), but it’s one of the last places in Philly where you can catch a music show without having to deal with ex-New Yorkers. We talk throughout the entire show. Philly has lost most of its good places during the pandemic. The ones that remain are wholly or partly owned by Live Nation and those places are downright exploding. Unless you’re in the mood to see a 40-year-old in a Bad Brains t-shirt play an acoustic guitar or hear the childish, tragic melodies of the Pop Punk nepo kids, you’re in luck if you live in Philly.
What strong memories do you have of playing or watching a show there?
They sell both hard cider and cocktails by the box, so, last weekend, I drank four or five Downers and at least three Moscow Mules. Mike Saga and I ended up singing a duet [New Order’s] A strange love triangle.
Has the Warehouse on Watts played an important role in your career and development as an artist?
All the places that have had an impact on me as an artist over the past two or three years are gone. The repository on Watts hasn’t been around long enough to really have an effect on me – other than a hangover and a growing concern about the stability of [IAMX’s] Chris Corner. I had a hard time after pranking him on stage.
Do you encourage fans to go see a show or have musicians play there?
Yes! Unless that band is Wilco. [Editor’s Note: It’s unclear if Anonymous means he wouldn’t recommend Wilco play a show there or wouldn’t recommend fans go see a Wilco show there. Either way, it’s likely more a comment on W.O.W’s vibe than Anonymous’ feelings towards Wilco.]
What separates a “right” place from a “good” place, and what makes Warehouse on Watts great?
It has nothing to do with the sound system, the staff or the location and everything to do with the ambiance. You may love the atmosphere in a certain place but I may hate it and, therefore, you and your entire family.
What would you say to the people working behind the scenes at WOW?
One day, comrades, we’ll put those little New Yorkers back where they came from and we’ll be free again to enjoy our local music.
Warehouse on Watts – Birthplace Information:
Location: 923 N. Watts St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19123
Upcoming shows: 41 & Friends, Spitalfield with Valencia Shane Henderson and Rookie of the Year, Alona, DJ Assault, Havok with Toxic Holocaust and I AM, Joeyy Live, Troy Aev, Doc Rotten with Those Trouble Makers and ASMR, Alice Longyu Gao, Teenage Glass Pod Equipped with a tight cord and cross keys.
Website and tickets: WowPhilly.com
Social networks: Facebook, Instagram and TikTok