Fight Amp discuss their 12 favorite venues they’ve played in 12 years
Philly's Fight Amp spent the last 12 years making a crushing mix of noise rock and post-hardcore, most recently releasing Constantly Off in 2015. Earlier this year, Fight Amp revealed that one would be their last. They're hitting the road in November and then breaking up after that. New projects are promised, so stay tuned for that, and as for the demos Fight Amp recorded after Constantly Off: "We’ll let that sleep for now."
Ahead of the tour, we asked Fight Amp to tell us about their 12 favorite venues they've played in 12 years, and bassist/vocalist Jon DeHart responded with commentary on each one. The NYC venue he chose is Saint Vitus. He also picked West Berlin, NJ's Fly Trap and "literally any West Philly basement" for their hometown (also Kung Fu Necktie). Read Jon's full list:
Fight Amp played our first show in January of 2004. It was the first band any of us had done that made it far enough from the practice space to record actual albums, and over the past 12 years we’ve gotten the chance to play hundreds of shows across 15 countries. We’ve played just about every type of venue ranging from houses to large stages, and many of those venues along the way helped shape our attitudes about music and being in a band. To commemorate our final tour in November, I’m sharing 12 of our favorite places to play across North America over the years, in no particular order.
THE WHITE THRASH - Baltimore, MD
One of our first out of town staples, The White thrash was a graffiti’d warehouse/show space, complete with skate ramps and kegs. Many of our longest and closest friendships in Baltimore are friends we made on one of those blurry nights 11 or 12 years ago. It’s where we first met Chris from Reptilian Records, who would release our first, as well as our most recent and final 7”. It was the perfect place for us to try out any ridiculous idea we could think of, like the show where us and our friends Gunna Vahm combined all of our amps into one giant wall. It sounded like a sonic wash of shit, I’m sure, but it was still a lot of fun. Last time I was there the space had changed hands and was called The Jerk Store, and they had the original painting from the cover of the City of Caterpillar S/T hanging on the wall. I’m not sure if it’s still being used for shows, but during Fight Amp’s formative years it was our home away from home.
FLY TRAP - W. Berlin, NJ
The Fly Trap was a house me and some friends had during the early days of Fight Amp. We practiced in the basement, and it’s where we wrote our first album, ‘Hungry for Nothing’. We also threw a ton of shows, and had some really great bands play there, like Mammoth Grinder, Lords, and Suicide Note. For every show we’d fill big plastic pools with ice and beer to help encourage people to donate some money to the touring bands. The shows were consistently packed and the partying went well into the night, but we somehow managed to keep everything under control enough to keep complaints from the neighbors at bay; a rare accomplishment in the “here today, gone tomorrow” world of house shows. The Fly Trap died a peaceful death when we decided to move out after 2 years.
SAINT VITUS - Brooklyn, NY
For years we had a really hard time getting good shows in NYC, almost to the point where we just stopped trying to play there. That all changed once Vitus opened their doors to us. You can just tell when a venue is being run by people who are neck deep in the scene they’re facilitating. The blackened, candle lit room has hosted just about every one of our most memorable New York shows, and it’s been really exciting to see them grow over the years into not only a place for up and coming underground bands, but a place where some of the biggest names in heavy music play when they want to reconnect with their roots, even for just a night. When all is said and done, I think Saint Vitus will go down in the books as one of the all time great NYC venues alongside places like CBGB’s, and ABC No Rio. Truly one of the best.
THE HIGHLINE - Seattle, WA
Out of the handful of times Fight Amp played in Seattle, all but one was held at The Highline, and I think that’s a big reason as to why we’ve never played a bad show in that city. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that a lot of our favorite places to play are the ones that are run by fellow touring musicians, and this venue is no exception. A chill staff who’s always ready to help, and a wide open room that makes the show easy to take in no matter if you’re directly in front of the stage, or at one of the tables in the back crushing food from they’re delicious vegan menu, It’s easy to tell that they’ve considered the perspectives of weary touring bands and show-goers alike as an integral part of their set up. Even with it’s one downfall - a treacherous 2 story load in - it’s still no wonder why so many bands like us are eager to return.
THE EARL - Atlanta, GA
Atlanta has always been incredibly good to us, and there’s a few venues that could be listed as our favorites over the years, (like 529, and The Basement), but to me, The Earl is a summation of all the things that make “The A” such a hotbed for great music. It’s also where we played while on tour with Kylesa in 2011, which was a big turning point in helping us reach a bigger fan base in town. That was also the night I hit and almost backed over our merch person, who I didn’t realize had snuck behind the van to puke after partying too hard during the show with Brent from Mastodon. He was fine, but I still feel shitty about it. Sorry again, Bill!
THE MILESTONE - Charlotte, NC
Come for the grenades of Mickey’s Malt Liquor, stay for the original graffiti on the walls by bands like Bad Brains, Nirvana, and REM.
THE RICKSHAW THEATRE (and the alley behind it) - Vancouver, BC
Are there any other venues in Vancouver? Damned if I know. Despite being affectionately dubbed “The Shitshaw” by locals, and having a stage that’s twice as tall as any stage needs to be, the room sounds great, and it always seems to pack in with plenty of people ready to let loose and have a good time. And as I’m sure any touring band that’s played there will tell you, the alley where you load in is an altogether new adventure. We’ve definitely passed the time before a show chasing around the cat sized rats that live back there. And while it was always at first a little jarring for me to see show attendees casually chatting while someone is sitting 2 feet away shooting up, once I noticed the plastic, medical grade receptacles on the alley walls for safe disposal of used needles, and the general nonchalant, live and let live vibe of the locals, I’m reminded that maybe the criminalization of drug addiction in America is completely unnecessary.
LITERALLY ANY WEST PHILLY BASEMENT - Philadelphia, PA
Chances are, if you grew up going to shows in the Philadelphia area, some of your first real “shows” took place in a house in West Philly. There’s something about the architecture in that section of the city that gives it a higher concentration of basements than anywhere else in town. Fight Amp was born in the West Philly basements that provide an ever changing crowd, thanks to a constant flow of new students to the local universities. 10$ will get you 3 40’s of Hurricane at the closest pizza shop, with plenty leftover to donate to the touring bands. Good times.
THE JINX - Savannah, GA
Savannah’s music scene is widely recognized for being tight, incestuous, and massively talented, and that vibe carries throughout The Jinx’s operation, probably due in no small part to the fact that a lot of those same local musicians own and work there. It’s another one of those lifelong staples for Fight Amp. Now that I’m thinking about it, The Jinx was host to the first, and last shows we’d ever play in Savannah. During all those years, we never thought of wanting to play anywhere else.
SIBERIA - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is definitely one of those “if we ever moved…” cities, it’s combination of cultures is absolutely contagious. There’s a whole slew of cool venues in town, with missing ceilings and floors peppered with broken glass, making you feel like you’ve entered the Punk Rock Thunderdome, but Siberia is the only place in town we’ve played more than once. It’s nice to have that stability now and then.
RAY'S PARENTS BACKYARD - San Antonio, TX
When we first started out, we didn't care about anything except getting in the van and getting as far from home as possible, which meant touring by the seat of our pants with nothing more than a 7" and some home made shirts. The first time we made it to Texas, we had the venue for our show fall through at the last minute... like, as we were pulling up to load in. So us and the kid who booked the show, Ray, decided to drive around town to different bars to see if we could play last minute. We tried a few different places. Ray would go in, and a few minutes later come back out looking dejected. Each place had a funny excuse. "Sorry, they said you can't play cause they're throwing darts", was a band favorite for awhile. Eventually we went back to Ray's assuming it was a lost cause, but as we pulled up he said "you guys can play in the yard". Seeing as his parents were home and obviously not in on the plan, we had some reservations. We told him we have big loud amps.. "it's ok, just turn it down to 2". Won't your parents be upset? "It's ok, we've done it before and my mom just yelled for a while". So we went and took a look around the yard and noticed under a car port, next to some gutted old Studebakers, were a couple practice amps and a ratty looking drum set, and we agreed to play as long as we could use those instead of our own amps. After calling the other bands and spreading the word, we eventually played a ridiculous sounding set to about 20 excited kids who circle pitted and bought up all the merch we had. The kids will find a way, and it was one of those unique DIY experiences we'll never forget.
KUNG FU NECKTIE - Philadelphia, PA
Part venue, part museum of decorative junk collected by the owner, Chicken, if you're from the Philly area and have followed us over the past few years, you've probably referred to us as the KFN house band at some point. I get that. We have to own that. But it's home base for good reason. The room is a perfect size, the drinks are cheap, our homies work there, and at some point they absorbed our guitarist Mike as a full time employee. That reminds me, tip your bartender.
The tour begins on November 4 in Kent, OH and it wraps up on November 12 at Sunnyvale in Brooklyn. That Brooklyn show is also with Fashion Week and HAAN. Tickets for that show are still available. All dates are listed below.
Fight Amp — 2016 Tour Dates
Nov 4 – Kent, OH @ Outpost
Nov 5 – Chicago, IL @ Township
Nov 6 – Detroit, MI @ Sanctuary
Nov 8 – Toronto, ON @ Coalition
Nov 9 – Montreal, QC @ Turbo Haus
Nov 10 – Boston, MA @ tba
Nov 11 – Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Nov 12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Sunnyvale