Monday, February 21, 2011

The World/Inferno Friendship Society

A cheer bursts from the crowd as silhouettes fall into place within the dark. So far, it’s a normal show. This is where normal ends. The lights snap on, the stage ablaze in white light. A motley crew has filled the stage; each dressed in their own idea of their evening’s finest. A pale, skinny man dons a suit, sipping, no, inhaling a bottle of red wine. His eyes dark and what seems to be a mischievous smirk permanently affixed to his lips. You are certain this man is the devil himself, his charisma already striking the audience as otherworldly. He kindly greets the audience, then brings forth a tom drum from nowhere, and begins to hammer a primal beat into it. Music quickly sneaks into the beat until an uproar of chorus turns the room into a chaotic circus; infectious and effective in snatching the audience’s participation is a song called “Tattoos Fade”.

This is the World/Inferno Friendship Society. Who? After all these years, I doubt the most avid fan could give you a clear answer. Somewhere lost between worlds of anarcho-punk, cabaret-punk, swing-punk, lots of punk. Yet, as far as punk goes, they’re strictly unconventional. If you can imagine big band, soul, and circus music with an attitude, I suppose this is the product.

Hailing from Brooklyn, the band has undergone many lineup changes over the last fifteen years, but throughout its span, maintained a very faithful cult following. The only constant member has been frontman Jack Terrycloth, formerly Pete Ventantonio of Sticks and Stones. The man has an infectious personality, and could probably convince the world to spin the other way if he so pleased. As the band as a whole seems to carry that effect with songs like “Let’s Steal Everything”, “Addicted To Bad Ideas”, and “I Wouldn’t Want To Live In A World Without Grudges”, one quickly understands how outspoken World/Inferno can be.

Emma Goldstein once said, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution.” If Emma was still alive today, I think she’d be proud. It’s hard not to move at a World/Inferno concert. The meek, meager and shy quickly loosen up as the band and audience melt into a tumult through the night. Slow songs, fast songs, songs concerning Weimar Germany, heroes such as Paul Robeson, Peter Lorre, and the romance and magic of living in the moment.

If there’s one thing that you must know and love about this band, it’s their zeal for Halloween. To place it on a pedestal, World/Inferno went as far as naming it Hallowmas. They put on a special show every year, elaborately planned and full of surprises. Grand entertainment such as fire breathing, circus acts, burning effigies, home-made pyrotechnics, and rallies into the street as the band plays "Pumpkin Time", paying homage to the Great Pumpkin of Peanuts make the night unforgettable.

And while the band changes, it's still alive and kicking and even kicking it on tour now. They are scheduled to release their fifth LP, The Anarchy and the Ecstasy, on March 15th. That’s next month kids! Stay tuned and check it out.

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