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The Jeffrey Palace: Like a Hipster Frat House.

June 11, 2012

Text by Brittany Thomas. Image by Rick Kauffman.

When your house is, on any given night of the week, swarming with your bandmates, their bandmates and their bandmates’ bandmates, then the thing to do is just surrender and turn that place into an all-out underground music venue. Well, that’s the conclusion 23-year-old Victor Genarro came to, anyway.

The Jeffrey Palace started out a few years before Genarro got there in 2010 as a sort of home base for a group of local film students. But for the past two years, the place has been a rotating house of musicians. And while on any given night of the week it might appear to be a house of 20-something’s like any other, on at least one night per month, these people pack all four stories of their home by hosting shows that headline bands like Philly locals The Lawsuits and Toy Soldiers, Wilmington’s The Spinto Band and London’s The Brute Chorus.

“We had no neighbors and a ton of musician friends with awesome equipment,” says Genarro, who currently plays in three bands – Mount Joy, Rebecca Way and the Lesbians, and Los Ombres, all of which practice in the Jeffrey’s basement.

Five people reside among the dozens of guitars, bicycles and empty bottles.

“It’s a freakin’ hipster frat house,” Genarro jokes. “What can you expect?”

They’re really not trying to make the place anything more than what it is. They aim to provide an alternative space where bands can play and promote one another in a totally laid-back setting, where people can come out, have a few drinks, do some dancing and wind up mingling with the bands.

“We like to book our shows with really small bills, typically two bands and a DJ,” says Genarro. “We encourage short, tight, awesome sets where we say, ‘Play your best eight and kill it on the floor.’ Typically, we do one band at 11p.m. and the other at midnight. That way everyone’s drunk and trying to dance. It works out really well for both bands.”

For the more up-and-coming bands, the space provides an awesome opportunity to meet other musicians and play in a totally unpretentious, positive environment. For the better known groups, it’s a great break from the typical scene. And some big names have and will continue to make appearances at the Jeffrey, thanks to a sweet connection with the London-based collective SoFar Sounds.

SoFar Sounds does what they call “viral tours” in cities all over the world, where they host bands in more intimate, alternative spaces. When they book in Philly, the Jeffrey is their go-to spot.

“One night they’re here,” boasts Genarro, “and the next, they’re putting on a show in a $12 million loft apartment in South London!”

The place operates off of donations, with a good chunk going to the touring bands.

“We get all kinds of people here, from 19-year-old UArts chicks to 40-year-old dudes,” Genarro shares. “We see people come back to the door after finding money so they can donate. They’re having that good of a time!”

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