Words by: Jake Krolick | Images by: Jake Krolick & Dave Minnick
World/Inferno Friendship Society :: 11.16.07
Electric Factory :: Philadelphia, PA
If you enjoy safe, pain-free rock & roll, stop reading now. If you'd rather spin aimlessly than lob your neighbor skyward, then the World/Inferno Friendship Society has rejected your membership application. However, if you yearn to test your life and rage like light is dying forever, toss caution to the wind and go see the World/Inferno Friendship Society immediately. No, their show doesn't have a giant light covered pyramid or amazing quadraphonic sound. However, if you don't limp away feeling that you saw one of the most amazing spectacles ever then you must have taken a wrong turn in Albuquerque and ended up at the "rock" show across the street.
Pete di Ventantonio a.k.a. Jack Terricloth grew up in Bridgewater, N.J. The sunken-eyed, sullen-faced leader joined us swinging, kicking and dressed to the nines in a dark suit and a slick haircut. You would have never guessed he came from the armpit state, but hell, where else would the devil's minions appear? At the Electric Factory Terricloth truly was a master of mayhem. His eccentric movements only amplified the crowd's growing need for anarchy. Terricloth flashed his thin, waxy grin revealing a sugary sadistic side. This devil-in-disguise was only there to wreak havoc on our senses and maim our fragile bodies. WIFS's nine members convened around their wiry ringleader to form a wild combination of cabaret-punk and vaudeville magic. The results flirted with pandemonium, a glowing combination of vivacity and Old World charm. World/Inferno's theatrics and intrigue derive largely from a love of the defiant German art scene of 1930s.
Brooklyn's punk rock circus launched the cavernous room into sound with the "Peter Lorre Overture." The Eastern Euro-influenced romp was a nod to actor Peter Lorre's diverse roots. While catchy and lighthearted, the song's approach retained an ominous tinge that gave the crowd goosebumps and made many anxious. The raven-haired Semra Ercin's smashing drum blasted through the eerie harmony as the entire Society shouted Peter Lorre's refrain. The anarchist big band attacked fast and early, playing a handful of tracks from their acclaimed new album Addicted to Bad Ideas. Their latest release is part rock opera, part historical look at Peter Lorre. It premiered live this past fall at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live with a once in a lifetime spectacle of a show complete with costumes, props and a wicked crowd.
The World/Inferno shook the Factory to its core. Priceless looks of dismay were plastered all over the security force's faces as they tried to contain the bodies flying over the barriers. Besides Terricloth, guitarist Lucky Strano has been the most constant member in the band. Onstage, he appeared tame compared to the freaks around him but he mercilessly shredded at a mere finger point from Terricloth. He was an anchor to classic rock in a punk circus sea. Strano's slick licks acted as warm punishment to the cold sneers coming from Terricloth during "Addicted to Bad Ideas," which delves into some of the unfortunate points of Lorre's latter years of life, including a downward spiral into morphine addiction revealed in the lines, "Because I can / 'Cause no one can stop me / 'Cause it makes up for things I've lost / Because I'm addicted to bad ideas / And all the beauty in this world."
World/Inferno Friendship Society :: 11.16
WIFS has created a cult following so magical that their live appearances are some of the most intense and eagerly anticipated events by any fans in the world. Try keeping up with someone in the throes of a World/Inferno addiction. Dipping back a year to the album Red-Eyed Soul, "Brother of the Mayor of Bridgewater" was a shot of pure Inferno that some could barely handle. It was another glorious romp across the face of music, an evil yet shining example of the crazy musical heights this group achieves. Bassist Sandra Malak tossed her natty dreads over her face as she plowed through the low-end. After the first few measures, the nail was in the coffin and those of us not already hooked on the punk swing song were inspired to heave our fists skyward.
The World/Inferno show was a melee both onstage and off, with wild fans, a sinister leader, guitar, bass, two drummers and a horn section. When The Hold Steady can part with him, fancy-mustached accordionist Franz Nicolay joins the spread. A fiery pro-anarchy streak burned through their song "Zen and the Art of Breaking Everything in This Room." Terricloth danced around pointing at the crowd while gleaming under the hot stage lights. He didn't miss a beat as a crowd-surfing fan extended his hand to snag a high five before security pulled him down. Terricloth acted like the proud master of ceremonies, waving his vintage silver microphone in front of a demonstration teetering on the edge of brutality. The brilliance he displayed was buried in his calm demeanor as he flashed glances that encouraged chaos.
A World/Inferno Friendship Society show is hard to live through, let alone categorize. They are not some glorified punk band with a horn section. Their shows take on a persona, an evil living being all its own. It's not simply music but art on another level. The World/Inferno Friendship Society is a validating experience, one that fills some hidden expectations about living that are more important than just going through the motions.