When an offbeat venue turns out to be a home run

A student remembers a lively concert experience at an unconventional venue.

As a concert enthusiast, I have lost track of the number of musicians I have seen perform and the venues I’ve attended, especially since moving to Main Campus. My favorite bands and solo artists never miss Philadelphia when they go on tour.

Every venue is a short subway or Uber ride away from my room in 1300 Residence Hall. I’ve been to concerts in smaller spaces like the Foundry in Fishtown, the Trocadero Theatre in Chinatown and even in church basements. I’ve also been a part of the seas of fans that show up to huge venues, like the Wells Fargo Center, the Electric Factory and even Temple’s own Liacouras Center.

But a couple weeks ago, I was confused when I saw a venue listed on my concert ticket that I’d never been to before.

The concert for the bands Hot Flash Heat Wave, Surf Rock is Dead and No Vacation was at a venue called Everybody Hits. So I took to Instagram to find some pictures of the venue, and I was surprised to find that I’d be seeing these bands shred on their guitars inside batting cages on Girard Avenue. I guess that explained the name.

“How are they going to pull this off?” I thought.

I was wondering how the space could compensate for the lack of a stage and where the lights and speakers would fit in. I knew the three bands I was seeing weren’t mainstream or very well-known yet, but I still felt they could’ve booked a proper venue.

Regardless of my concerns with Everybody Hits, I was actually excited to see what it would look like on the inside. I anticipated it would be on the smaller side, meaning the audience would feel closer to the bands.

On the night of the concert, I arrived at the venue with my friends when the doors were just opening. In keeping with the unconventionality of the experience, we had our hands stamped at the door and were immediately sent in with no wait.

In the common area outside the actual batting cages, instruments, speakers and microphones were being set up for the show. We were a few of the only people in the building, even though the show was scheduled to start in an hour.

As my eyes wandered around the room, I was drawn to the walls plastered with baseball cards, the arcade games tucked away in the corner, the string lights wrapped around support beams and, of course, the batting cages.

We claimed our spots in the front as more people began to enter, just feet from the microphone — much closer than I have ever been to a band before.

Surf Rock is Dead was the first band to come out on stage and perform its beachy, yet indie rock-influenced music. My favorite part of its set was the energy it delivered to the crowd and the laughs the members shared while performing together.

During the show, each band cheered on the others that performed on stage, almost as if they were teammates on the same baseball team.

The second band to hit the stage was Hot Flash Heat Wave, which was admittedly my favorite act. I prefer its music most out of the three. It’s similar to Surf Rock is Dead, with some ’60s classic rock-inspired tunes, mixed with modern, upbeat melodies.

The crowd was caught off guard when one of the lead singers pulled out an accordion. I had never seen anyone play an accordion live until that moment — yet another thing I could add to the list of ways this concert stood out.

Last was No Vacation. The band’s mellow, alternative sound contrasted its predecessors. In spite of its more laid-back tunes, the group was equally lively.

This concert stood out to me most of all because of the nonchalant attitude of the bands. People shouted song suggestions from the crowd, and band members responded conversationally. The lead singer of No Vacation had to take a bathroom break mid-set, and a guitarist drank a beer on stage and then passed it to a spectator in the first row.

My friends and I danced and swayed to the rhythm of the songs without fear of embarrassing ourselves, and unlike at most concerts, I had my own personal space, despite the small venue.

I can honestly say this was one of my all-time favorite concerts, and I think this is in part because of the relaxed vibe of Everybody Hits. I’m glad I can add the batting cage to the list of concert spaces I’ve been to, and I’m eager to find more offbeat Philly venues in the future.

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