Philadelphia knows Brendan Bring’Em the DJ for his Sherman’s March-like rush on this city’s best dance clubs, to say nothing of his on-stage antics (at one time or another) for Jay-Z and the Beastie Boys.
Locals know Brendan Olkus the artist as the fascinatingly odd creator of tribal gas masks and ritual-heavy paintings whose images portray gorgeous displays of bloodshed.
That these two separate but equal personalities should meet on one project — his self designed, built and co-owned up-coming first-ever club, Emmaline (named after his grandmother) — is a bonus to say nothing of the fact that it’s the biggest thing he’s ever done. Olkus is setting up in the unused space below the nightspot Industry XIX on 19th and Chestnut, a room that has remained empty for a minute with its own speakeasy-like entry way alley on 19th Street. While there will be a hard hat friends-and-family opening in the next 10 to 12 days, Olkus intends to be fully opened, six days a week, within 16 days.
There are a lot of musical and personal reasons that pushed Olkus to make his own club, all of which will be detailed in later posts. My first look inside Emmaline found Olkus hammering, stapling, drilling, gluing and re-purposing all the building and design materials that existed on Industry’s first floor from one of its previous incarnations as Pearl. Old booths are being torn apart and turned into Barcelona chairs, couches and other seating options. He’s creating new wainscoting, hoods and wall designs from what sat unused at Pearl together with materials he bought on the cheap (real cheap) from JoMar’s Fabric. He’s working on an entry way that will find visitors entering through a back alley, then a kitchen (how Goodfellas) where Underdogs weiners will be cooked.
He’s making and wrapping light fixtures, forging his own sculptures, and building a new DJ booth all by himself. No really, he’s pretty much there 24/7, sleeping, smoking cigs and such. The son of master designer/hep cat Jerry Olkus (Sassasfras, Dobbs, Starz, Artemis) has as much in his blood. Stay tuned.
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