Apparently, there are quite a few School Of Rock locations. I'm not sure whether it's an annual event or not, but for this school year there was a Best Of show at The Trocadero Theatre, 1003 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107. The concert featured youth from the tri-state area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware). Schools represented included Philadelphia, Downingtown, Bucks County, Cherry Hill, Wilmington and Fort Washington.
The Troc. is a venue with a unique history and is located in the Chinatown section of the city. It's hard to think of anything much more fun than going out to dinner with a bunch of teenagers... getting Chinese food in Chinatown... then, walking to a rock concert at the Troc.
Chinatown is not really place. Rather, it is an old Philadelphia neighborhood that is sort-of between Arch and Vine Streets running from 8th to 11th Streets. In the 1870's, a predominantly Asian neighborhood developed around a Chinese laundry located at Tenth and Race Streets. Chinatown developed into a tourist attraction with crowds flocking to some of the city's best restaurants and bakeries. These days you can find great dinning that includes Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Cambodian.
The Trocadero, affectionately referred to as The Troc, is probably the oldest Victorian theater that is still operating in the United States. It is listed on U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Opened in 1870, it was called The Arch Street Opera House and featured musicals, comedies and traveling minstrel shows. Through the 1930's it became a venue for Vaudeville styled shows... shows that had a wide variety of acts, such as, comedians, magicians, singers, plate-spinners, ventriloquists, dancers, musicians, acrobats, animals and animal trainers.
However, The Troc. may be most famous for the Burlesque entertainment that flourished into the 1950's. Mara Gaye was a famous movie star and Radio City Music Hall Rockette who became infamous for performing her exotic dance during this era at The Troc. More recently, bands like Lamb of God, Foo Fighters, Rancid, Stratovarius, Linkin Park, Taking Back Sunday, Type O Negative, The Germs, Ween and Information Society have played the Troc. My Chemical Romance used the location to film for MTV. Live albums and DVD's have been recorded by bands including The Dead Milkmen and Lamb Of God's "Killadelphia".
The Best Of Show
With such pre-concert festivities and the splendid concert location, it was icing on the cake to top it off with the raw energy of kids getting to perform great rock-n-roll on the stage.
Given the logistics of rotating musicians from all these different schools on and off the stage, you might have thought it would be a real mess. No, that was not the case. It was smooth.
One excellent song after another went off like clockwork. It's hard to pick out a favorite song. Even songs that weren't my favorite recordings, for instance, The B-52's "Love Shack" were turned into rollicking numbers. The Rage Against the Machine song left you dumbfounded. How could all these kids be downstairs moshing and singing lyrics like this with their parents sitting oblivious in the balcony? A surprise favorite was the driving version of Ram Jam's Black Betty. It was a song I thought I'd never get to see performed live. And, here it was in living 3D sound.
After checking with some of the others in attendance, we came to the conclusion that the Ft. Washington School's version of Black Sabbath's, "N.I.B." won the first place position. Though we were squished up against the stage, the sound quality was real good. I had heard some of the adults in the balcony complaining about the overall sound quality. I guess they needed to get down in the pit next to the speakers. Here, the vocals came through crystal clear. And, there is something about seeing females playing heavy metal that adds a certain thrill to the experience. On this song, Emily sang lead vocals and Sarah played bass with the true heart and soul of classic rockers.
Like I said, I do not know if this is an annual event. If it is, make sure you don't miss the next one.