Bands to Watch #190: Philadelphia Grand Jury

By on Monday, 23rd August 2010 at 12:00 pm

Philadelphia Grand Jury came about when, playing a solo show, Berkfinger (Simon Berckelman) saw MC Bad Genius (Joel Beeson, a childhood friend he’d previously not spoken to for six years) march onstage, plug in his bass and join him. From that point on the two men worked their way through a Spinal Tap-ish succession of drummers before finding Calvin, a 54 year-old, former Earth, Wind and Fire session musician, to complete the line up.

Up until recently the band have managed to maintain an admirable self-sufficiency, recording, producing and releasing their debut album, ‘Hope is for Hopers’, on a AU$3,000 budget on their own label Normal People Making Hits. In order to make the step up to the next level though, the band came through a major label scramble (one label reportedly dangled the pretty juicy carrot of Elvis Costello in the producers chair for their next album) to sign on the dotted line with Communion Records, the label of Mumford and Sons’ Ben Lovett and Kev Jones.

In their more tender moments, such as ‘Wet Winter Holiday’ and’ the Good News’, they do a nice line in the same kind of sunshine pop as Girls. It’s when things step up a gear though, that Philadelphia Grand Jury (or the Philly Jays as they’re known to their fans) really start to earn your attention. They’ve built up a reputation for some blistering performances and listening to songs like ‘Going to the Casino Tomorrow Night’ (“I got nobody, now I got no money”), it’s not hard to imagine them playing a sweat-dripping-from-the-ceiling, frenzied live show

Having recently moved to East London “somewhere near where Jack the Ripper murdered a whole bunch of prostitutes”, the boys are currently touring the country, bringing the party with them wherever they go, as they did across Australia in April as evidenced by.their recently released promo video for ‘I Don’t Want to Party (Party)’, which you can watch below.


Philadelphia Grand Jury has started an extensive UK tour this month that will continue through early October.

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