Brewtallica, the team of musicians representing the Philadelphia Brewing Company, was the last band to perform at the 2nd annual Band of Brewers competition at World Café in March.
The band from Yards, however, took the stage right before them. And they were the winners of the inaugural event, a battle of cover bands made up of employees from local breweries.
“I didn’t even watch them,” says Justin Wildon, PBC’s lead singer and truck driver. “I knew they were the first champs so right as they took the stage, I said, ‘This is the perfect time to go to the bathroom.’”
The Yards crew came out in black cloaks to a crowd chanting, “Yards! Yards! Yards!” and then they put on a raucous display punctuated by heavy metal cover tunes.
That put the pressure on PBC, Yards’ archrival in all things, including music.
Brewtallica opened their set with a sentimental tune about beer, called “Pint of Your Life,” which was set to Green Day’s “Time of Your Life.” Then they got loud, with three medleys made up of seven Metallica songs, including “Enter Sandman,” “Fade to Black” and “Master of Puppets.”
The crowd roared and fist-pumped during the entire non-stop, foot-stomping set.
“I didn’t think it would work out as well as it did,” says Colin Shawcross, PBC’s production manager, Brewtallica’s guitarist and the person who crafted the medleys. “It was a combination of not giving a fuck and trying to be different.”
A few minutes after their energy-filled performance, the judges’ votes were tallied and the Brewtallica crew were back on stage hoisting the keg-trophy high in the air.
It was pretty amazing for the group—including Wildon, Shawcross, Paul Butterly, Mickey Coburn and Alex Bender—who had only practiced together four times before the event. But they are all veteran musicians. Butterly, for example, was a member of Kill Verona, a popular post-hardcore band that toured widely for many years in the early and mid-2000s. Shawcross performed with The Anchor Boys.
The staff at PBC eat lunch together every workday, and the bandmates would talk about their approach over meals. Within 30 minutes of their first practice in the tasting room at the brewery, they were clicking.
“After a few swigs of beer, we got it down,” says Shawcross.
At the competition, they topped great performances by the heavy rocking Tröegs band and the team from Neshaminy Creek Brewing, which did a Weezer cover set that had the audience singing along.
“It was the funnest beer event ever,” says Butterly.
“It was a blast,” recalls Wildon, who sported red pants while sounding like James Hetfield on stage.
After the victory, the crew from PBC—which previously employed famed musicians like Kurt Vile, Jack Rose and Richie Charles—celebrated at their home away from the brewery, Atlantis, The Lost Bar in Kensington. But after the long day, which had the bands arriving at the World Café before 11 am, the festivities ended pretty early.
“It felt like midnight,” continues Butterly, a father of two, “but it was like, 8:30.”