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The Dead Milkmen on Why W

Not that keeping an independent music venue has ever been an easy feat, but the last few years have been particularly rough. We’ve been championing these local culture hotspots through our Hometowns of Consequence in an effort to highlight the importance of their continued existence. The scene is certainly in a state of flux, and that’s why artists like The Dead Milkmen speaking up for their favorite hometown venues, like Philadelphia’s Warehouse on Watts.

Rodney Anonymous, lead vocalist and keyboardist for the legendary satirical punk band, has seen the hard changes firsthand in his hometown. “Philly lost most of its good venues during the pandemic,” he tells Consequence. “The ones that are left are either wholly or partially owned by Live Nation and those venues frankly blow.”

The exception, for Anonymous, is Warehouse on Watts, aka W.O.W. Opened in 2016, the club bills itself as a grassroots event space and “Philly’s sexiest independent venue.” Situated on the North Broad Street Corridor, the venue is split into two stories: the downstairs Cambridge Hall bar and the upstairs The Loft nightclub. The upper room hosts a variety of monthly parties catering to fans of hip-hop, dance music, techno, reggaeton, disco, and gothic industrial club music, clearly making W.O.W. a space open to all sorts of subcultures.

But the Warehouse caters to a broader base, as well. James Murphy, CupcakKe, John Talabot, Unwritten Law, Knuckle Puck, Local H, Ruby the Hatchet, Mickey Avalon, and Bent Knee have all performed there over the years. It’s that sort of eclectic booking that gives W.O.W. its, well, wow factor.

Read on to see why The Dead Milkmen’s Rodney Anonymous is such a big fan of the Warehouse on Watts despite its relative newness to the area. (We’d advise you to keep in mind that Anonymous is a humorist and The Dead Milkmen are intentionally satirical — which isn’t to say Anonymous’ points aren’t valid!) You can also vote for your own at Hometowns of Consequence or via the widget below, and see which venues artists like Josh Homme, UPSAHL, Deer Tick, McKinley Dixon, and OSEES named as their favorites.

What’s your favorite local venue under 2,000 capacity and why?

The Warehouse on Watts wins this one by default. I’ve only seen a couple of shows there (I saw IAMX there last Saturday night with Mike Saga DJing!), but it’s one of the last venues in Philly where you can see a musical act without having to deal with douchey former New Yorkers talking throughout the entire show. Philly lost most of its good venues during the pandemic. The ones that are left are either wholly or partially owned by Live Nation and those venues frankly blow. Unless you’re in the mood to see a 40ish man in a Bad Brains T-shirt strum an acoustic guitar or hear the tragically childlike melodies of Pop Punk nepo babies, you’re shit outta luck if you live in Philly.

What’s a particularly strong memory you have of playing or seeing a show there?

They sell both hard cider and cocktails-in-a-can so, last weekend, I drank four or five Downeasts and at least three Moscow Mules. Mike Saga and I ended up singing a duet to [New Order’s] “Bizarre Love Triangle.”

Has Warehouse on Watts played an important part in your career and development as an artist?

All the venues which had an impact on me as an artist disappeared over the last two or three years. The Warehouse on Watts hasn’t been around long enough to really have an impact on me – other than a hangover and a growing concern for the stability of [IAMX’s] Chris Corner. I had a difficult time following his stage banter.

Would you encourage fans to go see a show or musicians to play a gig there?

Yes! Unless that band is Wilco. [Editor’s Note: It’s unclear if Anonymous means he wouldn’t recommend Wilco play a show there or wouldn’t recommend fans go see a Wilco show there. Either way, it’s likely more a comment on W.O.W’s vibe than Anonymous’ feelings towards Wilco.]

What separates an “okay” venue from a “good” one, and what makes Warehouse on Watts great?

It has very little to do with the sound system, the staff, or the location and everything to do with the vibe. You might love the vibe in a particular venue but I might hate it and, by extension, hate you and your entire family.

What would you say to the people behind the scenes working at W.O.W?

One day, comrades, we will drive these vile New Yorkers back to where they came from and we will once again be free to enjoy local music.

Warehouse on Watts — Hometown Info:

Opened: 2016
Capacity: 300+
Location: 923 N. Watts St, Philadelphia, PA, 19123

Upcoming Shows: 41 & Friends, Spitalfield with Valencia’s Shane Henderson and Rookie of the Year, Aluna, DJ Assault, Havok with Toxic Holocaust and I AM, Joeyy Live, Troy Aev, Doc Rotten with Those Trouble Makers and ASMR, Alice Longyu Gao, Teenage Bottlerocket with Tightwire and Crossed Keys.

Website and Tickets: WowPhilly.com
Socials: FacebookInstagram, TikTok

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