Grindcore House Cafe in South Philly, Pygmy Lush performs

Written and shot for jumpphilly, check out the music in Philadelphia.

Text and Images by Rick Kauffman

Could the modern purveyors of radical liberty belong to a couple of metalheads who own a coffee shop in South Philly?  Could be.

Dave Anthem and Mike Barone didn’t try to make the hippest coffee shop in the neighborhood, they just made the kind of place they wanted to hang out.  The Grindcore House in South Philly is their brainchild—a vegan death metal café that plays host to authors, bands, and movie nights.

Mulling around before being re-admitted for the nightly show.

“The most important aspect I wish to promote is a political atmosphere,” says Anthem, a Hardcore music-loving librarian turned barista, who, with friend, Barone, made what began as a joke a reality.

The café inside, is neither dreary nor drab nor dull, in fact, the French doors, hardwood floors and white tin ceiling are reminiscent of the 1860s? butcher shop it began as, with the original cork-lined walk-in still in use.  However, all the details inside are a bit twisted from the conventional café, with light listening of what sounds like a dog barking through a distortion pedal, and a litany of books on anarchism and social upheaval.

“We always thought it’d be funny to have a coffee shop that plays grindcore,” says Anthem. “It’s fast, it’s fast, it’s loud, it’s crass and it’s what I love to listen to.  And, like the music, the café came together from all different facets.”

“We didn’t create the café to blast people in the ears,” says Barone.  “But, sometimes when you work at a café, you tend to drink a lot of coffee.”

Barista Sarah prepares an almond fudge chai tea.

The bands who perform at GH also keep to a comfortable decibel.  Pygmy Lush, a Virginia band consisting of members from legendary Hardcore-bands, pg.99 and City of Caterpillar, recently played a delicate acoustic set to a crowd who sat Indian style and gave hoots and whistles after every jam.

It’s this kind of dichotomy with music that Anthem and Barone hope to exemplify with the café:  to bring people to a place where more than just their taste buds are stimulated.

“We basically made a blank slate of where we wanted to hang out,” says Barone.  “But, then it became something more, a place where we can entertain ourselves and our friends and anybody who’s interested.”

Pygmy Lush performing a delicate acoustic set.

Held in the same space as the bands has been the Radical Library, featuring a collection of rare and hard to find books, and movie nights with films that range from horror flicks to documentaries.

“It’s about more than just profit or capitalism,” says Anthem.  “We just wanted a place where we could hold free events.  We bring authors, and good fuckin’ stuff that you don’t have to pay for just to enjoy.”

Mike Taylor and Johnny Ward sharing a moment.

The Grindcore House First Anniversary BBQ is being held this Saturday, the 10th, with the vegan-barbeque and Little Babies Icecream and all other kinds of stuff to enjoy.

Grindcore House

1515 S. 4th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19147

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