Philly Phlashback: The Wishniaks
In the late 1980s, Philadelphia’s underground musical vibrancy was focused around several handfuls of bands. These were the acts that, at the time, were the alternative to the then-commercial sound of Philly (which included Tommy Conwell & The Young Rumblers, John Eddie, The Hooters, and Pretty Poison). Beneath the surface of the late-’80s local scene were groups such as Electric Love Muffin, Baby Flamehead, Nixon’s Head, Sky Grits, Ben Vaughn, The Johnsons, and The Dead Milkmen—who, back then, were hitting the peak of their commercial success. Another band that was finding both its voice and its fans at the time were The Wishniaks, fronted by former XPN “Beat Planet” DJ, singer/songwriter, and guitarist Andrew Chalfen (who went on to form The Trolleyvox).
With a confessed love of The Byrds, R.E.M., and Yo La Tengo, The Wishniaks busted out of the West Philly scene with their jangly rock. Despite having various EPs, singles, and albums to their name, The Wishniaks never really made it big outside of Philly—yet they still managed to be a part of the inner circle of Philly’s early underground rock scene.
Believe it or not, a video from those days remains of a song called “Day To End All Days.”