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Creepoid: “This Project Has Run Its Course.”

February 13, 2018

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Text by Mike Bucher. Top image by Brandee Nichols.

The symbolism was there if you looked for it.

During their Audiotree recording in Chicago last year, the Creepoid bandmates talked about drinking lots of water and feeling old at SXSW. They played a sludgier version of “Waste,” where bass player Anna Troxell repeatedly cries “I don’t wanna waste your time.” They lacked that wildfire energy their fans crave.

It was the last day of what would be their last tour together but that doesn’t mean it was a failure. Like the end of every show, amazing or not, the house lights brighten, equipment gets packed away and everyone goes home.

Artists are successful if they make people feel something with their work. Creepoid’s unexplainable spark took them back and forth across the country because its intoxicated fans kept calling them back.

Now, fans are showing the hardscrabble Philadelphia band how meaningful that feeling is, including cross country pilgrimages, to see them off one final time – at Union Transfer on Saturday.

“This show has been a hypothetical for a while,” said Sean Miller, singer and guitarist. “To see the people who have come out so many times to support us, to have some closure, it’s really a great privilege”

The group formed out of friendship from high school together in Willow Grove. They practiced, recorded and played shows on nights and weekends while they worked – drummer Pat Troxell as a mover and music promoter, his wife Anna as an adjunct professor, Miller as a printer, and Pete Urban as a farmer.

In January 2011, they released their first full-length album, Horse Heaven, followed by their self-titled album in March 2014 and a Record Store Day EP the following month.

At that point, demand for Creepoid forced the band to seriously consider going full-time.

“We feel like time is of the essence while people are interested,” Miller said back in 2014. “While people are looking and listening to these new releases, this is the time we really need to make that move.”

So they quit their jobs, packed up everything and settled in Savannah, Georgia without Urban, who had other plans at that point in his life. The band had two weeks to settle in, break in a new guitar player, and relearn how to pack their van without Urban before a three-month tour opening for Against Me!.

They learned a lot touring but going full-time was taxing for the self-motivated group. To keep the money coming in, the band hit the road hard, playing more than 200 shows a year.

“We kept calling ourselves sharks because sharks only eat when they swim,” said Anna Troxell.

They crisscrossed the country, converting new fans along the way, but it was back in Philly when the band met Geoff Rickly, who eventually signed them to his new label, Collect Records. At a later stop in Brooklyn, the bandmates said they were suspiciously wined and dined by the label. So they signed with them, fulfilling a long-time goal and financial security.

“If someone is coming at you with endless amounts of money,” Anna Troxell said, “you should probably figure out where that money is coming from.”

“The thing is, ‘endless amounts of money’ in our world is a very modest amount from a label,” added Miller.

When they signed, the label produced their final LP, Cemetery Highrise Slum, put them on a three-week U.K. tour with a sprinter van and rented equipment. But where the money was coming from turned out to be at serious odds with the band’s morals. The bandmates said they heard rumors that an insidious character contributed money to get a band member out of jail. They asked their manager to get to the bottom of the funding and discovered it was Martin Shkreli, the hated pharma bro who raised prices on an AIDS and cancer treatment drug from $13.50 to $750.

“We found out a super villain played a trick on us and put out our record,” said Miller.

Horrified, they terminated the relationship and, with it, all the financial support they were getting.

“It was a rough pick-yourself-up moment,” said Pat Troxell.

Back in Philly, and reunited with Urban, some members moved into a standalone two-and-a-half bedroom house in Fort Washington, where they practiced and recorded their EP, Burner. They toured on the record but things weren’t the same.

Before their last show in March 2017, in Cleveland, they discussed ending the band.

“This project has run its course,” Pat Troxell said flatly. “There are punk bands that go out and tour for years and then as soon as people stop caring, they just go away.”

Instead of going away, the band made a two part announcement in December shocking fans: they were breaking up and they are throwing one giant farewell show.

“The response has been overwhelming,” said Pat Troxell about the upcoming show. “As soon as we announced it, we were blown away by the response of people buying tickets. Then we were like, ‘Holy shit! A lot of the people are from nowhere near Philadelphia.’”

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Photo by Mike Bucher

From Alabama to Los Angeles – only the tip of the iceberg, fans on social media are announcing their travel plans to see Creepoid one last time. A husband is flying with his wife to Philly from Colorado for the show as a Valentine’s Day present. Another couple are driving from South Bend, Indiana.

Opening sets by hometown acts An Albatross, Mannequin Pussy and Night Sins, plus DJ sets from Bushy and Nicky Money, only amplify what’s sure to feel like a jubilant neighborhood block party.

What a way to go out, with your most ardent fans flocking together for one last curtain call.

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Creepoid by Brandee Nichols

 

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