Propped on the corner of Passyunk Ave and Croskey Street in South Philadelphia sat a dingy little bar that was about to get its face slapped with some unadulterated, gritty rock’n’roll this past Thursday night.
Opening up with the “Get Dorked”, a song named in homage to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, KNIF (pronounced Ka-niff) crashed through the stall doors playing what to me a 1953 Triumph would sound like if it roared onstage and grabbed a Gibson – loud, dirty, and with 649 cc of pure rawness.
Donned in 1970’s aviators, singer Steve “Thee SS” Sherk sang with a voice that one certainly wouldn’t expect, with its surprisingly melodic raspy tone, and attacked each song with uncompromising energy. Although a minor technical difficulty reared its ugly face mid-set, the band refused to allow the room to fill with awkward silence and kept the crowd momentarily engaged with onstage wit and humor. This was quite welcoming, because there’s nothing worse than attending a show and the band merely stands in stillness while the crowd gets restless.
“Wind Up Dead” showed its darker, primal garage punk roots with an impeccable guitar groove and sharp, hard back beat. Guitarist Deane Clapper, formerly of “The Heartbeaters”, gave nothing short of a “Johnny Thunders meets Dregen” performance one would expect with this music, using his energy-infested twisting and convulsing while keeping an infamous snarl the whole time.
Bassist Tom Sullivan, poised with confidence yet walking the bass lines with effortless ease was in constant lock with rhythmically precise drummer Chloe Stewarts’ beats. “Get Your Heels Up” provided the perfect recipe of 50’s style Little Richard-laced guitar hooks with a serrated edge and played with the most unbridled vigor of the set.
Ending the eight song set with a Cramps- style infused “Heartbreak Hotel” by The King, KNIF’s live show was absolute volcanic garage rock without pause (minor tech issue notwithstanding), and certainly not one to be missed in the near future.