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Half a block down from the adult bookstore and across the street from the crematorium, diehard fans began arriving more than two hours before gates opened at the punk rock concert in Northeast Philadelphia.
Many had seen Laura Jane Grace the evening prior, when she played North Jersey’s Crossroads live music venue. But everyone in line felt this particular gig was extra special.
“I’ve seen her in a bunch of different places,” said Emily, a Florida resident who came up expressly to see Grace, “but never in a parking lot of a landscaping company.”
Standing next to her, a fan named Paul offered his thoughts. “I once escaped from a venue that looked like this,” said the York, Pa., resident, adding, “Phenomenal trolling job.”
Others had similar observations. “Historic,” said one person. “Shakespearean,” said another. “Amazing,” offered a third, “and epic.”
Holding a concert at Four Seasons Total Landscaping — the small, family-owned business that gained international renown as the site of a post-election Trump campaign press conference — was the brainchild of Dave Kisleiko of Dave Kiss Presents, a booker for Fishtown’s Kung Fu Necktie, where Grace played Sunday night.
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The concept came to Kisleiko when the manager for opening act Brendan Kelly asked him to look into outdoor venues. Kisleiko then asked Kelly who might be a fitting partner for the bill.
“Laura and are very old friends,” Kelly explained, “so when Dave asked for someone with star power, I said ‘What about one of my dearest friends who is a transgender anarchist?’ ”
With some cajoling, everyone agreed to the idea, and tickets sold out in 17 minutes.
The carefully constructed plan almost fell apart at the last minute, after the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections followed up on a zoning complaint about a lack of proper permit. Working with local lawmakers, Sean Middleton of Total Landscaping was able to convince city officials to offer a one-time exemption.
On Saturday, press and about 200 fans filed into the infamous parking lot, filing past a Philly Drinkers stand offering branded t-shirts, and a Funk Brewing tent selling cans of their custom-labeled, Four Seasons-inspired “Lawn Jawn IPA.”
Brendan Kelly was up first, and he began with jokes: “I thought this was a hotel!” he said.
When Laura Jane Grace took the stage around 2 p.m., she noted the weirdness of the situation.
“This was already pretty surreal, but then the drone came down out of the sky” — she said, referring to a press camera — “and man, this is really…well, this is very 2021.”
There was enough room for plenty of physical distancing as the crowd sang along. People also took advantage of a selfie station set up with a rack of garden tools, at one point commandeering the lifesize photo prop of Rudy Giuliani for a crowdsurfing trip.
Meanwhile, Middleton and his colleagues at Total Landscaping looked on with amusement.
“I like to try to imagine behind the scenes at Four Seasons, what it’s like,” Kelly said after he left the stage. “Some of the people who work here must be like, ‘Yo, we’re used to being known for cutting grass and stuff.”
Yep, said Middleton, who holds the position of Total Landscaping’s director of sales. “Hit the nail on the head.”
Scroll down to check out photos from the once-in-a-lifetime event.
The week before the concert, Dave Kiss Presents offered free tickets to anyone who got a Total Landscaping tattoo. Ethan Savage, 23, took them up on the offer.
Savage has been a Laura Jane Grace fan for a while, they said. “She was pretty important to me coming out,” Savage said. “Her music was a stepping stone.”