Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Nancy hanging with Bryan Lathrop of Sadistic Exploits, Photo: Lisa Haun
As most nerdboys know, the Philly BYO put on many legendary shows in the golden days of American Hardcore including the infamous Buff Hall show seen on the Minor Threat DVD. I recently put together an article for the Philadelphia Weekly about the Philadelphia Better Youth Organization of the early 80’s that will appear in the paper this Wednesday (1/25). One of the people that was involved in the early formation of the Philly BYO was Nancy Petriello, who was responsible for putting on some of the first all ages Punk shows in that city prior to the formation of the crew. Along with Allison Schnackenberg and Ronald Thatcher, she helped form the core of the group before moving to Boston and marrying SSD guitarist Al Barile. I tracked her down for the article to find out about her early involvement in the Philly scene and here’s what she had to say. -Tony Rettman
Firstly, how’d you get into Punk Rock and then Hardcore?
For me, it was always about the music. I loved Punk Rock, and Hardcore took it to the next level by being faster and more powerful. I loved the energy of bands that played and the people involved in the scene. It was pure, it was fun, it was a little bit dangerous, but the music always seemed to connect with me deep down inside.
What were some of the first shows you saw that you would classify as ‘Hardcore’ in the Philadelphia area prior to you and the rest of the BYO putting on shows?
The Bad Brains show that I did at The Elks Center with (Philadelphia show promoter/DJ) Lee Paris was probably one of the first Hardcore shows that I can remember. Black Flag and SOA at the Starlight Ballroom in Kensington was another, and of course, the infamous Dead Kennedys show at the Starlight all pre-dated the BYO.
Who were the initial people you decided to start the Philly BYO with?
The whole BYO adventure began with telephone conversations Allison Schnackenberg and I had with Shawn Stern. The scene back then was so small that everyone in each city kind of knew each other through friends, through word of mouth, through bands. But it was really Allison who picked up the BYO mission. I had done shows at the Elks Center with local bands like Sadistic Exploits, Autistic Behavior, Decontrol, etc. and I worked with Lee Paris on several shows, but those were not BYO shows.
I think we were all a little fearless back then. My father had instilled in me an entrepreneurial spirit, and I just figured that I could do it. To this day, Punk Fest 1 that I did at the Elks Center goes down as one of my favorite days in my life. Lee Paris gave me a lot of guidance in putting on shows, so that helped a lot, too. My younger brother, Dan, who was about 16 or 17 at the time, worked the door and kept control of the money, which got channeled back into the band and other shows.
Tell me more about Punk Fest 1?
Punk Fest 1 was the first show I ever did with Sadistic Exploits, who I was managing at the time. I had actually booked Anti-Pasti from England to play, but Bobby Startup swooped in and took them away from me, and because they were tied to a record label and manager, they had to play the East Side Club. Of course, that was a huge drama. Anti-Pasti did come down and hang out at the Punk Fest. I think we basically did that show to get the Exploits an all ages gig where they could reach a wider audience. We papered the city with flyers. I remember being blown away by how many people showed up.
How many shows did the Philly BYO put on while you were still a part of it?
I only helped Allison do the first BYO show at Buff Hall in Camden. That show was really all Allison.
I moved to Boston not long after the Buff Hall show. I was dating Al from SSD (who I later married and am still married to, lol). So I wouldn’t be the one to answer that question.
What are your fondest memories of doing shows in Philly?
My fondest memories of the shows I did or the shows that I was a part of are, in order:
1. Punk Fest 1 at Elks Center for reasons stated above.
2. Bad Brains at the Elks – I will NEVER forget hearing Big Takeover in that cavernous, dark hall. I felt like I was going to explode. They were the greatest hardcore band to ever live. Seeing that band was a physical, esoteric, mind-blowing experience that I will never forget.
3. Minor Threat, SSD, Agnostic Front – Buff Hall. The chaos of that show was amazing. I’m sure you know the story about the SSD van pulling up to the show, Ian coming to the window to talk to Al, and then a Rastafarian in a stolen car running over Ian and smashing Al’s van. And of course, the Wheels of Soul and Ghetto Riders being there was a lot of fun. It was a dangerous show from the minute it started, but the energy was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The bands that played that night were incredible, and I am so grateful to Steven Eye for getting it on tape. I still show my high school students highlights of that show.
Why do you think these shows are still significant in this time?
Those shows are a moment in time that can never be recreated. Hardcore was an organic musical form, and I am one of the people who vehemently believes that there is no hardcore after 1983. That music’s time period was so much of its essence, it is impossible to recreate. The bands were young, brash, wild and the music was more powerful than anything I’ve ever heard then or since. It is truly time bound and timeless.