Khyber Pass Pub returns as a live venue – occasionally.
You wouldn’t know it if you’re new to the city or under 25 years old, but long before it was a genteel craft beer salon and gastropub with Southern flare, Khyber Pass was Philly’s most raging, tiny live alterna-rock and comedy club. And now, very likely, that could happen all over again as Sunday was the first live gig that the Khyber’s stage (well, at least its upstairs space) has held in at least a decade (featuring the dreamy Radiator Hospital), with July 12 being the start of Ryan Shader’s up-and-coming regular comedy night. Plus, there is the promise that Khyber will usher forth a full concert schedule come September.
For the un or ill-informed, Khyber Pass was home – the home – for alternative everything. That means comics such as Eugene Mirman and David Cross, the latter of whom still recalls playing the Khyber in the mad, bad 90s, and early Fringe Fest events late into the evening. Long before Matt Pond was Matt Pond PA, Kurt Wunder owned the 700 Club, and Steve Simmons became a restauranteur, they were in a punk band together wherein one of them played a fish (not the same fish all the time, I don’t think, but this is a long time ago, and my memory is hazy). There were scores of national and international indie acts in the beginning phases of their existence (or middle phases such as the Iggy Pop “Skull Ring” show or NYC’s no wave avatars The Contortions) such as Pavement, Melvins, Cop Shoot Cop, and the handsome double bill of The Strokes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in 2001.
Mostly, for the locals, it was the place to see your buds play – Lenola, Electric Love Muffin, Bardo Pond, Rarebirds, Punchdrunk, LaGuardia, EDO, The Goats, Dandelion, The Capitol Years, Matt Sevier – drink many beers with Jagermeister shots, and trust in the fact that life would never get any better than that.
Hey, that would be cute if that happened again.