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Half a block from the Adult Bookstore and across from the Crematorium, diehard fans started arriving more than two hours before the doors to the punk rock concert opened in northeast Philadelphia.
Many had seen Laura Jane Grace the night before, when she was playing at the concert hall at North Jersey’s Crossroads. But everyone in the line thought this particular concert was very special.
“I’ve seen her in a bunch of different places,” said Emily, a Florida resident who came expressly to see Grace, “but never in the parking lot of a landscaping company.”
Standing next to her, a fan named Paul shared her thoughts. “I once escaped from a place that looked like this,” said the York, Pa. Resident, adding, “A phenomenal troll job.”
Others have made similar observations. “History,” said one person. “Shakespearian,” said another. “Unbelievable,” offered a third. “Epic.”
Holding a concert at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping – the small family business that gained international fame as the site of a post-election Trump campaign press conference – was Dave Kisleiko’s brainchild of Dave Kiss Presents, a booker for Fishtown’s Kung Fu Necktie, where Grace performs on Sunday nights.
The concept came to Kisleiko when Part 1 director Brendan Kelly asked her to look into the outdoor venues. He then asked Kelly who might be a suitable partner for the bill.
“Laura and are very old friends,” Kelly explained, “so when Dave asked for someone with star power, I said, ‘What about one of my friends? dearest who is a transgender anarchist? “”
With a few hugs, everyone embraced the idea, and tickets sold out in 17 minutes.
The carefully crafted plan nearly collapsed at the last minute, after the Philadelphia Department of Licensing and Inspections responded to a zoning complaint about the lack of a proper permit. Working with local lawmakers, Sean Middleton of Total Landscaping was successful in convincing city officials to offer a one-time exemption.
On Saturday, the press and around 200 fans took to the infamous parking lot, passing a Philly Drinkers stand offering branded t-shirts and a Funk Brewing tent selling cans of their custom-labeled “Lawn Jawn IPA” and inspired by Four Seasons.
Brendan Kelly was the first, and he started with jokes: “I thought it was a hotel! he said.
When Laura Jane Grace took the stage around 2 p.m., she noticed the strangeness of the situation.
“It was already pretty surreal, but then the drone came down from the sky” – she said, referring to a press camera – “and man, it’s really… well, it’s very 2021 . “
There was enough room for a lot of physical distancing as the crowd sang. People also took advantage of a selfie station set up with a rack of gardening tools, at one point requisitioning Rudy Giuliani’s life-size photo prop for a crowdsurfing trip.
Meanwhile, Middleton and his colleagues at Total Landscaping watched in amusement.
“I like to try to imagine behind the scenes at Four Seasons, what it is,” Kelly said after leaving the stage. “Some of the people that work here must be like, ‘Yo, we’re used to being known to cut grass and stuff. “
Yes, said Middleton, who is the sales manager for Total Landscaping. “Put your finger on it.”
Scroll down to see photos from the unique event.
The week before the concert, Dave Kiss Presents gave away free tickets to everyone who got a Total Landscaping tattoo. Ethan Savage, 23, accepted the offer.
Savage has been a fan of Laura Jane Grace for some time, they said. “She was pretty important to me coming out,” Savage said. “His music was a springboard.