The Venue – The Nail
We have lived about 15 minutes from The Nail for nearly 20 years, and I have never been inside. After going in for a recent show, I quickly realized why I have not been there before.
The Rusty Nail Tavern – aka The Nail – is located at 2580 Haverford Road in Ardmore, PA. Their website advertises it as a “nightclub”, however, I would describe it as a dive bar with a stage that has live music from time to time.
The outside of the building is very non-descript, and looks like it has never had a face lift. It’s located on the edge of Ardmore near the Havertown area, and is close to the Ardmore SEPTA station for the Norristown High Speed Line.
Tip #1: There is no parking lot for The Nail. There are several businesses around it, including what appeared to be an auto body shop next door that has parking. Be sure NOT to park in any of the other businesses’ lots, as you will be towed. You must park about half a block away at the SEPTA Norristown High Speed Line parking lot (next to the 7-11). There are signs in the other lots warning that you will be towed, but there is no sign on the outside of The Nail indicating where to park. It is on their website, and when you walk inside, there are signs hanging. Also, the person at the door asked where we had parked to make sure we were parked in the right place.
The venue is truly a bar. Smoking is permitted. It’s dark, and clearly hasn’t been remodeled in a long time. The carpet is worn and sticky. The show we attended was an “all ages” show, so we got lucky and smoking was not permitted on the night we were there. This also meant that they separated the two sides of the room – the bar side was limited to 21 and over, and the stage side was all ages.
The stage is very small, and per one of the performers, the floor of the stage is uneven. The quality of the sound system is not good, as it seemed to be a struggle to find the right balance between all the instruments and the singer for each of the bands.
Service was not good. We were greeted when we walked in (it appeared to be the owner that was checking people in). He took our tickets, gave us a wristband, and explained how the event was going to work. We proceeded to grab two seats at the front of the bar, which allowed us to sit on the 21 and over side, but still have a view of the stage through the doorway into the other room. We sat at the bar for 10 or 15 minutes without being asked by the bartender what we wanted to drink. While there was only one guy working both the bar and the “kitchen”, he clearly wasn’t busy. He was walking around, looking at his phone – basically ignoring us. Finally, the owner who was working the door asked us if he could get us something to drink. The slow service by the bartender continued through the night. Explainable if the bar was busy, but it was not on this particular night.
The Nail does have a food menu. However, I would not recommend eating there. Your choices are either ordering pizza from a local pizza place, or eating some frozen wings, chicken fingers or mozzarella sticks that they’ve thrown in the deep fryer.
Tip #2: As mentioned above, I would not suggest eating here. We were sitting right in front of the t.v. screen that had various cameras running, including the kitchen. My husband saw the bartender open a bag of frozen wings and with his bare hand, throw them in the fryer. This was right after he was handling money, using his phone, etc. There are several restaurants in the Ardmore area including El Limon and Tired Hands, that are located just 5 or 10 minutes away. I would suggest grabbing dinner or a snack there before attending an event at The Nail.
In general, this is not a place I care to return to. The owner appears to have a number of businesses going on, including live music promotion and renting out houses in the Poconos and at the Jersey shore (there were plenty of advertisements around about renting his houses, including hanging in the bathrooms). He would do well to focus on his bar/nightclub. Even simple things like training the staff to be more attentive, as well as proper food safety, would be improvements.
Tip #3: Due to the general uncleanliness of the bar, we stuck to bottled/canned beer. Frankly, I would be concerned about the cleanliness of the glassware, as well as the lines to the taps for the draft beer.
This show was different than most shows that I attend for a couple of reasons. First, all of the bands were very young – hence why it was billed as an all-ages show – and most probably don’t have a lot of experience performing live. Second, each of the four bands featured female lead singers, which was great to see for bands that were clearly heavier rock/punk type of bands.
Before I go into specifics of each band, I want to give all four of them kudos for doing what they do. For the majority of bands out there, touring and playing live is really hard. They don’t have the luxury of having fancy tour buses, tour and booking managers that take care of everything, staying in four star hotels, and playing to sold out crowds. These bands drive a beat up van towing a U-Haul trailer behind them with their equipment. They live off fast food and hope they make enough selling CD’s after the show to be able to stay in a hotel for the night instead of sleeping in the van. They play to rooms that sometimes have less than two dozen people show up. They are doing what they are doing because they love it, and they hope that they will get their big break some day.
All of those things are why I’m such a big proponent of supporting live music. Remember, it’s not just about showing up for the show either. If you come across a band that you like, buy their CD (even if you don’t listen to CDs anymore). Tell your friends about them. Share their info on social media. A little bit goes a long way, and means much more to these struggling young bands than it does to the ones that have already made it big.
Pariadin is a band that was formed from Richards Rock Academy, which is based out of Aston, PA. The academy brings students together and helps them form their own band. They do everything from coming up with a band name, to writing music together, to building a social media presence.
Pariadin was formed in April of 2015, and is made up of band members Dylan Monaghan (guitar), Sam Keister (guitar), Alexis Corcoran (vocals), Nate Quasha (drums), and Aimee Schwartz (bass). They consider themselves to be a rock band.
Their set list consisted of several original songs. At the end of the set, they did a Led Zeppelin medley which included “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You”, “Blackdog”, “Moby Dick” and “Stairway to Heaven”. The wrapped up their set with a cover of ZZ Top’s “Tush”.
Musically, I thought they were much more mature than their age. Alexis has a great voice and really showed it off on several songs. The main thing they need to work on as a band, is their stage presence. They need to become more comfortable, and interact more with the crowd and each other. That all comes with experience and maturity, so I think that will improve as time goes on.
The members of The Disapproved all met through Rock & Roll After School, which is based in Collegeville, PA. The program gives kids ages 7-18 a safe place to learn multiple musical instruments, as well as writing original music and performing. Three of the members were originally part of the band The Forgotten Legends. After that band broke up, they added a fourth member to form The Disapproved.
The band is made up of Katelyn Marie (vocals), Jake McGrory (guitar), Dakota Murphy (bass), and Jason Swinney (drums). They describe themselves as a punk/rock band.
Their set list at this particular show was a combination of some originals, along with several covers of current bands like Fall Out Boy. They even ended with a cover of the song that Katelyn said inspired her to want to be in a band – Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”.
The band has a lot of energy. Katelyn’s personality really comes through on stage – she dances around, smiles and interacts well with the audience. Musically, they need to get tighter. They played a long set, and you could sense by the end that they were struggling to get through the songs. They also need to turn down the volume a bit on Katelyn’s vocals. This may have had more to do with the venue than with their set up, but Katelyn’s vocals were too loud and she was holding the microphone too close. That resulted in her coming across more like yelling than singing from time to time. They have the performance and the look, they just need to work a bit on the music and the stamina to take that next step.
You can follow the band on social media to stay up to speed on their events.
Echoheart was the first national band on the bill. Based out of Bethesda, MD, the band is made up of Marina Heath (vocals), Jacob Ommaya (lead guitar), Max Gilder (bass), and Pablo Hannan (drums). They describe their music as rock/pop-punk, with influences from bands like Paramore and My Chemical Romance.
The band formed in 2015, and put out their first EP – “Eyes Like Mine” – in May of 2016. Since then, they’ve been playing shows up and down the east coast, working hard to build a following.
The minute Echoheart took the stage, they hit you over the head (in a good way) with their music. The band’s set consisted of mostly original songs, including a new song that they were trying out – “Break”.
From both a music and performance stand point, Echoheart was definitely a step above the previous bands on the bill. Marina – with her blue hair that matched her blue shirt – took over the stage immediately. Her vocals were extremely strong, and she had the right blend of vocal power and subtlety in her singing when she wanted it. The rest of the band was also much tighter, and had a more polished sound than the previous bands. In contrast with The Disapproved, I would have liked the volume on Marina’s vocals be a little higher, as I felt she was sometimes drowned out by the music despite her powerful voice.
The band’s whole stage presence was more mature. Marina and Jacob both interacted with the crowd. The entire band interacted with each other. I loved Marina’s pleas of asking people to buy merchandise after the show, so they could not only buy their next meal at McDonald’s, but maybe even sleep in a hotel instead of the car.
While Echoheart’s music is not generally the genre of music I listen to, I was impressed enough to go buy their EP after the show. I think this band has a lot of potential, and hope to see them have lots of success in the future.
The band is currently wrapping up their first national tour, with a few more dates through the end of June. They continue to write and release new music, which you can find on iTunes, Spotify, etc. For the latest information, check out their website at www.echoheartmusic.com.
For the Fire
The final band on the night’s bill was For the Fire. The band is based out of Indianapolis and consists of Addison Rider (vocals), Justin Whitlow (drummer), Jesse Barnes (bass), and Tyler Antal (guitar). Highly influenced by the punk rock scene, this is a hard-hitting band that gives you all they’ve got on stage.
The band was formed in the fall of 2015. They released their debut EP – “Who We Ought to Be” in August of 2016. They have been touring in support of that EP, as well as some new music.
The band was short a member at the show we attended. Due to a family emergency, they were without bassist Jesse Barnes, so Addison did double duty with vocals and the bass guitar. As a result, they were limited in the songs they could play, so their set was quite short.
While their set was short, they were not short of energy. Addison and Tyler jumped around as much as the small stage would allow them to. Addison’s powerful vocals were highlighted with the style of their music. She can hold her own on stage. Like Echoheart, both their music and their performance had a level of maturity that the first two bands have not quite reached. It was really interesting to see the progression of the music and the performance through the course of the night.
While the crowd was small (the majority of the people attending the show seemed to be friends/family of the first two bands and they left after their performances), For the Fire had the people in the room bouncing their heads and thoroughly enjoying the music. This is another band that has a ton of potential, and I wish them a lot of success going forward.
The band is currently wrapping up The Hearts on Fire tour with Echoheart. You can find their music on iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services. For the latest information, check out their website at www.forthefireband.com.
Kudos to all the bands on the night’s bill. While the crowd wasn’t large, they seemed to be thoroughly entertained and impressed with the music. I hope all the bands keep working hard and get that big break some day!
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