"I know all about you, Philadelphia," beamed San Diego singer-guitarist John Reis, of the Night Marchers, at the Khyber on Tuesday night. "You go to the airport and boo bad landings: 'Landing gear was down 10 seconds too late!' "
The near-capacity crowd whooped back, a regular occurrence during the Marchers' supremely winning set. Reis, a poised front man, worked in grade-A stage patter between the band's full-throttle rock tunes, his wide-ranging shtick including praiseworthy shoe-throwing, bailouts, beards, Mexican beer, finding inspiration in the smell of the brackish Delaware River (reminding Reis of his seaside hometown), and, natch, toasting the Phillies' World Series triumph.
And Reis certainly knows Philly. Besides being well-received here with his punk-and-roll ensemble Rocket From the Crypt (1990-2005), both the Night Marchers (whose debut album,
See You in Magic
, arrived in April) and his more noisily artful Hot Snakes (1999-2005) took shape with commuting Philadelphian Jason Kourkounis on drums.
Long one of Philly's more talented (and employed) drummers, Kourkounis, who is also in Bardo Pond, welcomed the other three Marchers when they flew in Sunday for practice before their current Northeast U.S./Canada mini-tour.
Ferociously tight on Tuesday, the Night Marchers blasted over an hour of pleasing pummel, showcasing rock polymath Reis' songwriting acumen. Just when something might have sounded familiar - was that a touch of Generation X's "Kiss Me Deadly"? X's "Los Angeles"? The orientalist guitar intro of "Paint It Black"? - another original monster hook obliterated all.
Earlier, New York's Obits plowed through an excellent 14-song set, including a scalding take on Kokomo Arnold's "Milk Cow Blues." Fronted by Rick Froberg - Reis' yowling foil in Hot Snakes, the influential Drive Like Jehu, and Pitchfork - the quartet presented tracks from its forthcoming debut,
I Blame You
, and current single, "One Cross Apiece" (digitally available on Princeton's Comedy Minus One label).